Sunday, June 11. 2006
Threats, Warnings, Fiduciary Responsibilities, Silence and the Statute. What do you want your Metropolitan Council representative to do?
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WRT the question of the location of the Honesdale bank, it is true that Honesdale is the county seat of Wayne County where St. Tikhon's Monastery and Seminary are located. But it is probably more salient that it is also the county where Metropolitan Herman's residence is located.
That is, the loaning institution's location likely has much more to do with being the longtime location of Metr. Herman's home than has it anything to do with the monastery or seminary.
#1 Anonymous on 2006-06-11 19:50
As one frustrated priest put it:
"What is needed is transparency, what is being offered
is invisibility. They are not the same thing, and in
the end the invisibility being offered is going to
lead to the disappearance of the OCA."
I would say the first thing I want my Metropolitan Council member to do, whom I have not written to yet, and am not sure if I will, is to end this culture of repression and silence. I did not join the Orthodox Church to go back to the Dark Ages. As a former political activist, I am really dismayed by the culture of repression in the Church. I wish someone would have warned me about this before I decided to join the Church.
I think I would want my Metropolitan Council representative to advocate on behalf of charity and love, which seems to be lacking in the Church, and I mean charity towards each other. Too often professional people lose sight of their human nature and just become professionals. I can see that happening in the Church right now.
I have spent most of my career working for secular non-profit organizations and I have never seen anything as unpleasant as this. I have seen several educational institutions go through major changes and transitions, but never anything as intense as this.
I would say instead of trying to deny and cover up the crisis, bring it to the light and work on solutions. How are we going to pay back the money we owe? That is the most important question. We just need to humble down and admit our mistakes.
All this defensive posturing will get us nowhere.
#2 Olympiada on 2006-06-11 21:53
I don't quite understand. If you are truly concerned, you should be contacting the members of the Metropolitan Council. I'm no longer a member of an OCA parish, although I still believe in the promise of the OCA. If I were, you can bet that I would be telling the Council that they need to stop being a rubber stamp and fulfill their statutory responsibilities. I think the future of the OCA may depend on their action.
Melanie Jula Sakoda
Instead of transparency, there is opacity. Can this be
good? The epistle reading for today, Monday of the
Holy Spirit, says:
"Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.For it is shameful even to speak of those things whichare done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. ... See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is."
And what is the will of the Lord? As we all know, in
the Gospel the Lord says that what was uttered in
secret will be shouted from the housetops. So, can
someone explain, what is gained from secrecy? As with
all such things, the only way this problem will be
rectified is by being brought into the open. Was any
misdeed ever corrected by hiding it? Based on the NT,
it seems clear that the Lord's will is exposure,
rather than concealment.
I'd like to make another comment. Thank God for the
wise leaders of earlier days (prominent among them
over many years being Metropolitan Leonty), who
knowing well the holy canons of the Church, having in
mind also the 1917-1918 Moscow Council, and the abuses
of Roman Catholicism, wrote the Statute of the OCA in
such a way as to establish the Metropolitan Council
with the authority and responsibilities that it has.
It may well be that those of earlier times who gave us
our present Statute, have, by their foresight, given
us the means by which our Church can be preserved.
And no, this is not the time to get ready to overhaul
the Statute so as to dilute the power of the
Metropolitan Council. The Statute never caused any
problem. What has caused problems has been the
ignoring of the Statute.
#4 Michael on 2006-06-12 11:52
The email addresses of all of the MC members are not easy to find. I emailed the few listed on that site.
One of them wrote back to me and CC'd the entire MC. Since it is so difficult to find the addresses you might want to make them availableto the readsers of OCAnews, It isn't difficult to figure out which addresses go with which members.
PS. The first is Metropolitan Herman's. Woog's doesn't work
#5 Name withheld by request on 2006-06-12 12:25
I feel uncomfortable writing a letter that I have no guarantee will be read or responded to. I would be willing to ask my Metropolitan Council member if he was willing to hear my ideas, but what if he's not? It would be considered intrusive or impolite or discourteous to take it further and perhaps even harrassing or intimidating.
I have studied the official explanation of the Metropoltan Council on the Church's website, and I suppose I will have to go back to it because the function of the Metropolitan Council is still not clear to me.
I have been the target of a (neocon) campaign to discredit my name on the internet so I am very hesitant and weary to put myself out there on a limb again to tell the truth.
#6 Olympiada on 2006-06-12 12:36
I'm afraid that your attitude is precisely what's wrong with the OCA. Sobornost can't be acheived if everyone is afraid to speak up! A respectful letter expressing your views as a member of the Church **should not** invite reproach. If it does, well, the culture of fear succeeds because people let themselves be cowed. The only judgment we should fear is the judgment of God.
Please reflect on todays reading of Ephesians 9:9-19. The light of the Holy Spirit shines upon us this day!
#8 Gregory Uhrin on 2006-06-12 13:58
Standby for more of the burying the head in the sand routine from the OCA. If you seriously think your going to be informed regarding the scandal...your drinking way too much kool-aid!
This is going to go full boar until an enforcing authority gets ahold of this situation and brings the truth to light. I wonder if anyone is asking Honesdale National Bank, why they are loaning money to an organization with such MAJOR money issues, and possible criminal wrongdoing intertwined in the scandal as well.
Standby kids...eventually this will get real good where we'll eventually see some of the most respected folks in the church cuffed and stuffed into the back of federal agents cars.
This is being handled just like the Catholic Church Sex Scandal...and look what it did for them...major buy in issues, parish consolidations and bishops getting tossed.
I am very surpsied to see that Theodosius is not also in the crosshairs either.
Anyone find it funny, he lives 20 minutes from South Caanan, but cannot attend the Memorial Day Pilgrimage???
My money is he's in hiding.
This is so unfortunate, but completely expected from those that thought they were holier than the laymen. They'll get what they deserver in the end, they can only smokescreen so much. As soon as someone gets some heat on them to tell the whole truth...the players will be abandoning ship like drowned rats.
Mark Stokoe....thanks for providing and spreading the real word of truth.
#9 Bob H. on 2006-06-12 15:23
Well Melanie, that is a well written comment, but I am not sure what Sobornost means. It is true I am afraid of the archpriests. I am afraid of getting castigated. My attitude is only a reflection of me, not my Church. I don't trust God, that's my problem. So really, I should not be involving myself in the affairs of the Church if I can't even trust God. I am always on the edge of apostasy it seems so I really should not be writing out in public about the Church, right? Then again, maybe that's the problem with the Church, there are more of us who do not trust God then meets the eye. Isn't that called cynicism, or in other words, spiritual heroin? You all tell me: does anyone else have a problem trusting God who comments here?
#10 Olympiada on 2006-06-12 18:51
On the eve of the Metropolitan Council spring meeting, I remember how we waited expectantly in January for the Lesser Synod to say something that would show respect for us and for the truth, and how disappointed we were. Then the Synod met, and we were not much more enlightened.
Again, only Bp. Tikhon had anything at all to say. Some of us agree with his point of view, and others of us, equally intelligent, and fairly well-informed, heartily disagree. But at least we have his input to use as a marker for what may be going on. It's obvious that he truly feels anguish over the current situation of the OCA.
What Mark writes is only as good as the information that he can obtain, and God bless him for his untiring efforts to shed light on this sorry situation. As I expressed in my comment about Part 3 of Mark's recent series built around Bp. Tikhon's communications, even the best of the information we have been able to obtain is highly flawed. The sillier the stories get, the less rational the OCA actors appear, and , in response, the more extreme the suspicions grow.
What I would like the Metropolitan Council to do is tell us whether the allegations are true, or are they false, and then make a clear and forthright public explanation of everything. That's all. Then everybody can work together to figure out what to do next. But, this time, I'm not holding my breath. Cate
#11 Cate on 2006-06-12 20:10
I take it as a positive sign that the emails of all the Metr. Council members are now posted at the OCA website -- they weren't there a couple of days ago. I'm sure your posting of them here was the catalyst.
Also, I choose to see the inclusion of Mary Buletza Breton as a positive thing. I knew both her and Fr. Gary (before he was Fr. Gary) many years ago in Boston and have always had a strong impression of her as a straight-shooter who does the right thing. It's one of those odd things -- sometimes you just get a sense of what makes a person tick.
Let's all pray for the Metropolitan Council to come to constructive decisions.
And let's all send them words of encouragement and support.
#12 Rebecca Matovic on 2006-06-12 20:18
A Reflection on the Need for "Best Practices": Essential or Not?
While our Church is being lead into the corporate world, I don't hear anyone asking the questions; will McDermott, Will and Emery "Best Practices" for Nonprofit and Corporate Governance help resolve the critical issues facing the Orthodox Church in America? How will its adoption by our church impact good governance practices and policies? Will it impact the much talked about revision of the OCA Statutes?
Reading “Best Practices” causes me to reflect on whether this is the best medicine for our wounds. I would ask our Metropolitan Council to pursue this concern with our central church administration.
"In many circumstances, adoption of, and adherence to, "Best Practices" may reduce a nonprofit corporation's exposure to potential state and federal corporate, charitable trust and tax challenges." The key words 'reduce exposure to challenges’ can go one of two ways, either the handling of finances is cleaned up one hundred percent and occurs above the table or the latest and greatest legal loop holes will be honed in on to sustain the adverse manipulation of Church money. The challenges we are talking about are law that can be broken. Here we have the opportunities to reduce our exposure while getting around the law. It baffles me why our administration thinks that by adopting “Best Practices” our ways are going to change for the better. Would it not be better for men to change? Will “Best Practices” bring about the needed change or will it be a new wine skin for bad wine?
"Best Practices are at this time aspirations, not legal requirements." This is a far cry from the words of the beloved and departed Archbishop John Shahovskoy, former bishop of the OCA's Diocese of the West, who wrote in his book The Orthodox Pastor (pg. 57), "Like the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, a priest teaches men not what social forms they should adopt, but in what way they should relate to one another in society."
"There exists no overwhelming legal mandate for the adoption of Best Practices and a decision not to do so is not indicative of a breach of fiduciary duty." In other words, the law currently doesn't mandate the adoption of “Best Practices”. So what is mandating us suddenly to adopt them? Have regrettable actions caught up with us or have we run out of aspirations? Has the Gospel of Christ become dry for us? Have the perimeters of our authority and administration of the Church, her finances, property and land holdings, and spiritual life become so complex that we are now confused in our priorities and we look to the world’s social forms for answers? Wow!
In all honesty, perception is 99% reality. The perception is obvious that our Holy Synod does not receive well the assistance of our brightest theologians and laity. On the other hand, we have examples like Ms. Woog’s eighteen years of service on the Metropolitan Council. Whether a person is voted in or appointed to the Metropolitan Council, should not all members be restricted to the years of service stipulated by the statute? You see, our problem is two fold. On the one hand, we don’t hold ourselves accountable and on the other, we silence those who do. Another concern is the reception of members from the Order of Manns and Christ the Savior Brotherhood, and the placement of some of these persons in positions of Church leadership, with the thought that they are an asset to the Church. Do any of our current difficulties involve these people? This is merely a question not an accusation.
Personally, I’m deeply hurt and find myself a fool to think that we would advocate the adoption of “Best Practices” and suppress the reading out loud of the liturgy’s so called silent prayers. What does one have to do with the other? I feel we more than ever need to hear the majority of prayers the clergy are praying on our behalf so that in our sacramental and collective hearing we all know what is expected of us as members of one another in the communion of the Holy Spirit. It seems some among our episcopate would rather suppress what Frs. Schmemann and Meyendorff have taught us concerning our life, liturgy and mission, much of what was linked with our autocephaly.
Fr. Thomas Hopko offered an effective outline of questions and comments to help address turning ourselves around. In light of Fr. John Nehrebecki’s additional comments, a firsthand remembrance of the meaning of autocephaly in the context of mission, I ask our Metropolitan Council to support and undertake Fr. Thomas’s recommendations in their meeting this week with the central administration of our church.
Likewise, I hope our central church administration will have the courage and resolve to put all the cards on the table for the Metropolitan Council. Your in Christ, John Lickwar
#13 John Lickwar on 2006-06-12 23:23
Olympiada, I've been watching this train wreck right along with you, and praying the whole time... what I experienced on a parish level over the past couple of years turned out to be a true a microcosm of the OCA as a whole: self-glorification rather than humble service, posturing and preening, diverting money given selflessly by the laity to uses best termed "exessive," and spiritual malaise...
I do not doubt God, Olympiada, but I doubt what has been done by sinfull men in His name.
I feel no guilt any more in leaving the parish I attended. I feel no guilt in leaving the OCA, in which I placed so much hope for Orthodox unity and evangelism. The Holy Spirit is not "with us," because those in need are not being served either spiritually or physically... The fruit gathered by a few Christians is gnawed away by rats, or left to rot in the basket.
I can't watch the train wreck any more. Today, I delete my bookmark to this site, and shake the dust from my feet.
Our family has found another parish in the past month, whose mission is outreach and evangelism, and caring for the poor and elderly in the parish family and the community. They educate the children, and the children love God, and serve eagerly, and invite others to "come and see." The Holy Spirit is there, because there is spiritual fruit in abundance...
#14 A former parishioner on 2006-06-13 09:06
Dear one: We must understand that the devil cares little about other non-profits, and he cares GREATLY about the Orthodox Faith since we have the treasures of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to distribute to those who are hungry for the Truth.
Of course, the Orthodox Church will have many more trials and tribulations - since there are either devils or angels among its members, because the truth of Christ's salvation either are accepted and lived or refused with knowledge, bringing more of a participation in the evil one's agenda.
Sin in the members - is the real problem here which allows the enemy of our Faith to make havoc. Repentance is the tonic. Are our bishops ready to take the medicine of repentance as we all must do in order to follow Christ? We pray so.
#15 Irene on 2006-06-13 09:27
Perhaps it might be just slightly reasonable to determine what the desired outcome of this meeting actually is.
For those who believe that the outcome is only satisfactory if the Council comes back with charges and/or the condemnation of a person or persons relative to this whole thing, then I'm afraid they will be disappointed. Actually, even in far less grave matters, the Orthodox Church moves with the swiftness of molasses in January (in Alberta). So I expect that there will be no clearly defined reiteration of the entire mess with the square pegs going in the square holes and the round pegs in their proper place - unless, of course, some miracle should occur. Most probably, it will at least appear to - and maybe will - be more of the same confusing and unsatisfactory pronouncements.
However, this does not mean that progress has not occurred nor should it be seen by the less patient as a conviction of the OCA as a whole in this matter. There is an old saying that 'the mills of the gods grind slowly, but exceeding fine' and that may be the case here. I don't know what the Council will 'say' at the end of its meeting, but it is far better to be cautious and take the 'high road' where people's reputations and lives are concerned than to be 'bold' in making pronouncements that may prove to be less than verifiable in the future.
Therefore, I counsel all Orthodox to be patient and to await developments at a rate that proves two things: the matter is being addressed, but it is being addressed in such a way as to cause as little harm to the innocent as possible. Let us not throw out the baby with the bathwater.
M. Valerie Protopapas
#16 Matushka Valerie Protopapas on 2006-06-13 10:10
FYI, Metropolitan Theodosius now resides somewhere near Pittsburgh, PA.
#17 Michael Geeza on 2006-06-13 11:12
Thanks, Rebecca, for expressing your appreciation of Matushka.
However, yesterday, in his report, Father Kucynda roundly castigated the Council for not respecting confidentiality. His main example was that someone had egregiously dvulged to Church members that Matushka was the one who had put up the money, lent the cash, to hire the lawyers and accountants, $50,000, as I recall. (It only came out because someone had asked in conversation how it was that she suddenly appeared as a speaker on the official agenda of the meeting and was told that she was the answer to the often-asked question: 'Who put up the initial money when those guys were hired".)
The good Archpriest inveighed against those who breach confidentiality. No one is supposed to know ANYTHING about deliberations. The Faithful are ONLY entitled to know the final results of the Metropolitan Council's meetings. That's how it goes. It's just like the Holy Synod not being given a copy of the Metropolitan's address nor of the minutes of the Special Meeting of the Holy Synod. Father Paul does ****not*** approve.
Of course, no one should get his hopes up about anything of substance being reported by either the auditors or the lawyers. To the simple question, "Are the allegations true or false," they will claim that they are not the ones to give such answers. They won't even identify the commission of any crime or deliver any criminal accusation against anyone, nor verify any criminal accusation against anyone.
Who would have thought that a certain kind of gullibility relative to the sins of others would be so reflexive and wide spread here in an American Church? Is that why those supermarket tabloids sell so well?
"Mermaid Found in Sardine Can!!!!"
#18 Bishop Tikhon on 2006-06-14 11:35
That mixed bag of lawyers are quoted by Mark Stokoe as writing this:
• An audit of the accounts related to the St. Sergius Chapel Fund must be conducted immediately. The Council should inquire as to why cash transfers of thousands of dollars per month were directed from the General Operating account of the Church into this account in 2005 and the years preceding, without proper audits of those transfers ever being performed.
On April 28, 2006, however, Metropolitan Herman, following Father Kucynda's Opening Address at the meeting of the Lesser Synod, remarked, "It is understood now, that funds were not apparently passed through the St. Sergius Chapel account, as had been alleged."
I'd like to point out that that clearly shows the first support (from that quarter) of my vilified answer to the question, "Are the allegations true or false."
I had thought that spending money on outside auditors and outside lawyers (way outside: Jewish!) was a waste of money and I said so from the beginning. So far, even in reporting to the Metropolitan Council, the Lawyers failed to show and the auditors produced a document which did NOT answer the question (and they will never do so) of illegal action by anyone.
But, I'm all for hope. Keep hoping. It's good for the blood pressure.
#19 Bishop Tikhon on 2006-06-14 12:04
While some of this is off subject, I feel it is only fair that you print it, since Matushka Valerie's comments, to which I am responding, were also off the topic and were printed anyway. Thank you. In any case, many, many thanks for the great work you do for all of us.
Dear Matushka Protopapas,
I wish to respond to some of your curent and previous remarks.
You seem to want to maintain the status quo. Why are you so overly concerned about the innocents. Could it be that it would be too painful for you to see some of your friends or former associates in other than a positive light even if they are complicit on some level.
Concerning your disdain for clergy who do not speak out against abortion. Is it possible that because they frequently counsel parishoners, they have a deeper sympathy for the tragic complexities of life.
Concerning St. John Chrysostom. Yes, he was a great preacher but he was also a notorious anti-semite.
What I am tryiing to point out, Matushka, is that to some extent, sin may be a matter of perception.
In the eyes of a good friend, even the guilty one is somehow, thru love, innocent.
The woman with the unwanted pregnancy may see it as far more sinful to give that child up for adoption, or to burden parents or grandparents with its care than to abort the fetus.
To the Jew, the term anti-semitism, of course, has a much more powerful ring than it does to many others.
The Church is a guide and generally a good one, but not always. Clearly, in the case of anti-semitism, it proved itself to be monstrously destructive.
While we can use the Church as guide and more, we can also use rational thinking and call upon the best in our higher selves to determine what, for us not for anyone else, is moral and what is not.
Sincerely, Mary CLark
#20 mary clark on 2006-06-14 16:56
What do I expect the Metropolitan Council to do? What a loaded question!
Contrary to the posting by Matushka Valerie, patience has failed us since 2001 or longer. Patience, that virtue we so often extoll is no longer extollable, but now absurd. Patience has resulted in us allowing 2001 collections to go unpaid for 5 years. Patience has become criminal! Patience has allowed us to borrow from little children! I'm sorry and mean no disrespect, but patience is inexcusable.
Action is overdue. Voting actions taken by the AAC are invalid.
Given the fact the AAC didn't get full and clear financial statement disclosures in July, 2005, and given the fact the AAC attendees weren't told the temporarily restricted fund details, and given the fact the AAC elected members of the Metropolitan Council, and given the fact that seated Metropolitan Council members were reelected, and given the fact that seated Metropolitan Council members must have known 2001 unpaid financial funds information by the volition that Bishop Tikhon of the West ~did, I'd say seated, reelected Metropolitan Council members have failed to meet their fiduciary responsibilities to the laity of the OCA.
Unless they failed to meet their fiduciary responsibilities by cover up by the Synod, where Tikhon knew, but they didn't, I'd say all seated members reelected in 2005 must resign. In the absence of their honorable self resignations, I'd say they deserve to be fired just as Kondratick was.. Further, I don't get how the Synod didn't question the nearly 500k in temporarily restricted fund holdovers until late 2005, but I won't speak to the actions they should take.
I do understand the MC has failed to meet enough. Physical meetings are not required to discuss financial statements. Everday in this country, financial statements are reviewed and discussed over the phone. If any MC member says they didn't know we had obligations to restricted funds laying over from 2001; they aren't smart enough for the seat; they should resign.
Any elected member that doesn't feel they have the strength or intellectual capacity to carry the church through a financial crisis, that is, understanding or not understanding 2001 obligations to 9/11 victims and families were outstanding should resign. To excuse this failure by saying they didn't know how to read a financial statement, or that someone didn't provide notes disclosure would make them equally responsible, and they should resign.
It is my understanding that Fr. Kondratick ran the AAC with a full court press. There was little time for dialogue. Questions that needed asking weren't afforded time. For these reasons, it does become apparent that Fr. Kondratick wanted to avoid these difficult issues. I find it appalling that Metropolitan Herman came under such scrutiny for doing something the MC failed to do. For this reason, seated members of the MC that were reelected by the AAC in 2005 should resign.
Sounds harsh, but honestly, these people should resign, or should have resigned in protest. Persons that did resign should get the fullest future consideration.
Additionally, anyone in the Comptroller role, or in the role of the person writing the financial statement disclosure notes, including a third party preparer of financial statements should resign. If they don't resign, they should be either terminated by the MC, or be required to have remedial training, or given the opportunity to resign.
The OCA still owes Dn. Wheeler an official apology. Until Dn. Wheeler gets that, much like the addict who must reconcile with those they have hurt, the OCA will never have my respect and will never be fully healed. Until members of the OCA who are equally responsible in covering up the status of the 9/11 funds and other charitable funds, "knowingly or unknowingly" are disciplined, or resigned their positions, I will have no further respect for the organization.
I have gone to lengths to support Metropolitan Herman's efforts in this matter. I'm compromising and fair.
This meeting should include the resignation of certain MC members, and/or actions taken against those persons who failed to disclose in the financial statements notes disclosure which funds were unpaid in 2005 yet from 2001, including members of administration staff, MC members, and third party preparers.
This is what I expect as a member of the OCA. I expect to be able to make charitable contributions to the OCA in the future. Today and until full integrity is restored, I'm sticking with secular organizations where full disclosure is required. I'm sticking with secular organizations until members of the OCA administration lose their sinful, prideful ways, and act with humility and personal dignity and take responsibility for their own failures in this matter by resigning.
The other option would be for the Holy Synod to agree that the voting decisions made by the AAC attendees in 2005 were not made with full information and that information would have impacted decisions around the incumbents. The Holy Synod could then make a determination to remove the seated members that were reelected, and have a new vote. Today, I don't have any confidence in the MC as an administrative body of the church. At a bare minimum, the Holy Synod should have a vote of confidence to restore my faith that this body is effective in managing administration of the national church.
#21 Daniel E. Fall on 2006-06-14 17:05
Well, if this is not worthy of Metropolitan's, Metropolitan Council's, and the Synod's attention, then I do not know what it would take. So the OCA is "blessed" with a diocesan bishop who, on top of everything, is also openly & publicly racist? "Way outside: Jewish!" How wonderful.
#22 Inga Leonova on 2006-06-14 20:49
There is so much here, but I will try to address not only this but other points made.
Firstly, 'disdain' is not the proper word to use regarding clergy who - for whatever reason - failed to speak out on the Church's moral doctrines including the proscription against abortion. In those instances in which the matter was one of personal sympathy with the 'pro-choice' cause, the word might have some bearing as one has no right to call oneself an Orthodox (never mind an Orthodox priest or bishop) if one is in direct opposition to fundamental Church teachings. As for the others, disappointment would be more the case since the opportunity for an Orthodox witness to the culture on an issue that certainly would have garnered 'publicity' - and hence, brought the existence of the Church to the public at large - was being ignored and, thus, lost.
As to the 'status quo': well, Orthodox history is full of a great deal of 'status quo'. Sometimes this is good - the Traditions of the Church, and sometimes bad - such poor governance as we note in the present instance. I have never advocated the 'status quo' when that 'status quo' is contrary to the good of the Church and the faithful. Indeed, my very vociferous expressions of 'disappointment' regarding the 'status quo' condition of silence on the issue of abortion and other 'life issues' speaks volumes for my opposition to the 'status quo'.
On the other hand, addressing issues such as have come before us now require great care in the handling thereof. Someone made a reference to these matters as being a 'cancer' in the Church and that is accurate enough. Yet, any physician knows that you don't approach cancer by simply 'cutting away' without any concern with the collateral damage that might be done to surrounding vital organs. Even radical surgery in the case of cancer is not undertaken lightly nor is it the only means by which the matter is addressed. To demand that any steps being taken be such as to give the appearance that the 'guilty' are being punished and 'order' is being restored fails to take into account just how confusing and diffuse these matters may, in fact, be. There might be no 'smoking gun', no central thread leading to the 'heart' of the problem and thus permitting a (reasonably) quick and satisfactory conclusion. What this type of situation inevitably means is that every revelation simply make more obscure in many instances just what has taken place. Let us be realistic. At present we have an extremely messy situation that has been exacerbated by years of less than proficient management and often little oversight. Furthermore, this situation can be found not only in the National Chancery. Of course, this means that, like many cancers, the 'roots' may be so widespread as to require years of effort to address and correct the problem(s) but that is not what most people wish to hear nor accept.
I have counseled patience not because I wish the matter to remain unaddressed. Indeed, even if that were my wish (and it isn't), that is no longer possible. I have counseled patience insofar as awaiting the results of the investigations now underway and to give a chance to those 'in charge' to come forward with their assessments of what has happened and make known to the faithful what they plan to do to correct past errors and/or misdeeds and to assure that the same will not happen in the future. Just as any horseman knows that you do not try to force a skittish horse over a jump but allow the animal to gain condidence until he performs willingly, so we must be prepared to allow those in authority in the Church - clergy and lay - to assess and address these issues (however tardily) and bring to us their conclusions and plans for the future. To attempt to 'stampede' them into action with cries of collusion and threats of removal or defrocking is to assure that the 'accursed silence' against which all here seem to rail will continue if for no other reason than self-preservation.
I was a Roman Catholic before I was chrismated into the Orthodox Church in 1961. The Roman Church insisted on 'defining' everything and doing so relatively quickly and hence began its journey down a road of the formations of heretical doctrines which necessitated the formation of further heretical doctrines in their support. The Orthodox Church, on the other hand, trusted to TIME to determine the legitimacy of its Councils believing that God in His OWN time would make known to the Church whether (or not) a particular Council was valid. It worked! I now suggest that we - like the great Fathers of the Church be at least willing to give some time to those who are attempting to address this matter. After all, it is hardly as important or earth-shattering as the great heresies of the past. It is a matter of Church governance, not Church doctrine and even if it is never resolved to everyone's satisfaction, we at least know that an attempt is underway to make the effort to do so. Fruthermore, if a reasonable time passes and nothing is forthcoming, there is still time to raise the issue again. I know of know statute of limitations on dishonesty.
However, since none of this affects the validity of the sacraments or Apostolic succession, I believe that we might be better occupied praying for the well being and success of those who are attempting to 'fix' the matter and asking God to bless their efforts. Who knows? Maybe they will be successful in their efforts if the prayers of the faithful are with them.
M. Valerie Protopapas
#23 Matuska Valerie Protopapas on 2006-06-15 07:09
Your Grace --
I am uncertain what Your Grace seeks to accomplish by the steady trickle of information thrown into the discussion of these matters.
It appears to be aimed at muddying the waters and sowing confusion. People distrust person X, let me make sure they distrust person y equally.
Transparency is not total transparency. I don't need to know who leant the $50K, I can simply be greatful that someone did. Knowing that the person didn't want to be known publicly increases my respect for that person. Having someone make it public (which Your Grace's post has done, even if it was known by some before) does nothing to increase my respect for the broadcaster.
Also Your Grace's continuing focus on the question of criminality is off the mark from my perspective. The real questions are about distorted priorities and funds used in ways that would have been deemed inappropriate by the vast majority of the members of the Church had these matters been visible. That's not an argument for democracy, it's an argument for responsible stewardship and appropriate behavior all around.
There is much that is encouraging in the materials posted before and since the Metropolitan Council meeting. Is everything accomplished? Far from it. But there's movement and progress. To fail to acknowledge progress is harmful to the long term.
The one thing I truly regret in the Metropolitan's address is the continuing distrust and antipathy to those who have discussed these matters on the internet. To characterize all of us as people who wish harm to the Church is hurtful and counter-productive. And shows a profound misunderstanding. I truly believe that the vast, vast majority of people writing on these issues wish only healing for the Church. Some may be smarting and saying things in anger, but it's an anger born of injured love, not of malice.
#24 Rebecca Matovic on 2006-06-15 10:30
I only disagree with one thing: please continue to give to the OCA regular appeals. Just do it directly. Give directly to the seminary or find a seminary student in your diocese to support; find a mission church to contribute to directly; and give to the OCMC and IOCC. They are all worthy of your support.
#25 Michael Strelka, CPA on 2006-06-15 12:35
Mark Stokoe withheld the name of the person who posted this message. Doesn't the note refer to Bishop Nikon who got the reply with CC to all the members of 'the entire MC," and refers to "Woog?"
"Mark, The email addresses of all of the MC members are not easy to find. I emailed the few listed on that site. One of them wrote back to me and CC'd the entire MC. Since it is so difficult to find the addresses you might want to make them availableto the readsers of OCAnews, It isn't difficult to figure out which addresses go with which members.
PS. The first is Metropolitan Herman's. Woog's doesn't work '
#26 Bishop Tikhon on 2006-06-16 12:13
I couldnt spell it out clearer. You are absolutely right. Who in their right mind is going to entrust their donations to a Church that is in financial disarray? We are called to be good stewards of the provision that God freely bestows upon us. I dont know if you can fully blame the Metropolitan Council if they are in the dark as well. I have heard through a Council member that they are not getting any information from the Metropolitan. Why the cloak of secrecy? Let the light of Christ expose the works of darkness.
#27 Rich on 2006-06-16 15:12
I am sorry to disappoint your sleuthing for my sources, but the "Woog" in question is mine. As the writer who provided the original list sent two additional emails including those details, I created a PS, with his understanding, rather than post all three. That's the truth, but keep looking!
#28 Editor on 2006-06-16 15:35
Well, not a total loss! Mark Stokoe confesses that it is he, not "name withheld" who posted the PS, or at least the "Woog" part. At any rate seeing the editor confess to this misrepresentation is worth realizing one has made a logical deduction from a falsehood.
As for Rebecca. The questions to which all demanded answers was, I beg to differ with her, the allegations of criminal misconduct in Eric Wheeler's letter in October. One of those allegations was that of the money being passed through the Saint Sergius account. It's a false allegation, unless Rebecca cares to differ with what His Beatitude, advised by Father Kucynda, reported to the Lesser Synod and declare tha there statement is false.
As for other questions, such as the viability of the Statute, why not look at the definition of the Administrative Committee in the Statute. After looking at it, when anyone asks why the Administrative Committee did not meet JOINTLY with the Lesser Synod at the latter's INVITATION, I think the answer will indicate that the Statute there is unworkable or else routinely flouted by those who support it so vigorously.
#29 Bishop Tikhon on 2006-06-16 22:36
I've replied to Inga's charge of anti-semitism in detail, but my reply was not posted.
#30 Bishop Tikhon on 2006-06-16 22:44
I was looking for a couple messages of mine, but I suppose I'll have to wait until Mark Stokoe can come up with a reply. In the meantime, I want to compliment Bob H. on the way he reasons. I especially liked his remark about drowned (sic) rats somehow deserting a sinking ship! It's about time this newsy site lightened up a little. Thanks, Bob!
#31 Bishop Tikhon on 2006-06-17 14:36
Your comments on anti-semitism were inappropriate. You will not deter those of us asking for the truth by deflecting us with new scandals of your own making. This topic is closed.
#32 Editor on 2006-06-18 14:41
To: My lord, the Rt. Rev. Tikhon,
I beg your Grace's blessing for me and my family.
I apologize for writing to you via this forum. I attempted to contact you via the email address on the DOW website but that email address seems to not be working. I am the person who gave the email address of the Metroplitan Council to Mark and asked him to make them available to his readers. The "P.S.'s" accurately reflect my communication to Mark.
But my giving them to Mark isn't very important, as someone in Syosset saw the wisdom of putting all of the email addresses on the OCA website shortly after they were made available on OCANews.
We all watch too much television. We have come to expect things to follow some nice, neat plot-line that will be 'solved' in 60 minutes or in several installments. It is obvious - at least to me - that what we are dealing with in the instant case is a methodology in the Orthodox Church that dates WAY back. In some instances, I don't doubt that St. Constantine had to put up with it.
One of the most damaging things to the OCA was the 'split' between the National Church and the Diocese of New York and New Jersey. Many people thought it would be good for the Diocese because there were all sorts of complaints about the the parishes of the two states being the 'stepchildren' of the National Chancery - and to a certain extent, that was correct. However, once there was no direct contact and the National Chancery - which was part of the "Diocese of Washington", a rather non-existent entity at the time - found itself virtually autonomous. This led to a lot of things that would much better never having happened (I'm sure we all remember the group of nuns housed in Syosset who performed the tasks of housekeepers etc. to the Chancery staff before someone 'wised up' and ended the matter).
In sum, the Chancery has developed over the years methods of doing things that were at best confusing and at worst inexplicable. I don't think that there was any true dishonesty, but I do believe that it became a matter of the ends justifying the means in many instances. Under such circumstances, sloppy practices led to sloppy accountability or, in this case, virtually no accountability.
The simple fact is that we may never have (as I have already posited) a 'smoking gun', a 'thief' with a suitcase (or a freezer) full of 'hot' money or anything really juicy to satisfy the 'Law & Order' devotees. We may be looking at a miserable Gordian Knot that will take months if not years to unravel and address and even then, 'restitution' may never come about because nobody really knows what happened!
If that is the case, then we must be prepared to deal with that scenario but I fear that already there are those who will demand retribution be brought down on someone's head simply because it will allay the angst from which they are suffering. :-/ I, too, would like to see all this neatly wrapped up, accounts settled, funds properly distributed, bad practices abandoned and apologies all round from those who were supposed to be 'overseeing' the well being of the Church. Yet, I 'fear' that that may not happen and I 'fear' even worse what the result will be if my 'fears' come to pass. Sometimes the cure can be worse than the disease.
M. Valerie Protopapas
#34 Matuska Valerie Protopapas on 2006-06-19 15:25
I had a bad experience in a OCA parish myself that had to do with financial accountability. Actually, as this whole scandal was going on, we looked for the Chancellor to step in and give us financial guidance. Heck, we thought him to be an honest man.
It ended up with a shouting match over the phone between him and I, and a parish was left 23 people (or 40%) lighter in the end. I never blamed our rector after speaking to Fr. Bob, as the guidance he gets as rector is only as good as the source it comes from.
As I have posted in other threads, I have taken serious shots at the leadership. I am sure you know that those folks (including yourself) who are demanding answers are not among those I write about.
Actually...someday I'll probably be banished from Orthodoxy for sharing my opinions...so I may have to move to your diocese under the Orthodox Witness Protection Program!
Keep pushing for answers on behalf of the layity! Your doing a great job at keeping the feet to the fire of truth on this issue!
#35 Bob H. on 2006-06-19 19:24
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