Tuesday, April 21. 2009
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A complete external audit should be a matter of protocol. In fact I would state it should be inthe the Constitution, but as we recently saw the Constituition is no better than the the paper in the bottom of a bird cage.
Power corrupts and absolute power absolutely corrupts.
Millions of dollars with no accountablility is too big a temptation for any one person. Do we not require two signatures on every check on the parish level? Why? Accountability.
#1 anonymous on 2009-04-21 05:43
Christ is risen. Thank you requesting that the Light of the Empty Tomb into the Antiochian Archdiocese!
#2 anonymous on 2009-04-21 05:46
If the Board of Trustees isn't going to do its duty, perhaps the way to get this done is to dangle it in front of the eyes of the IRS and to tempt them with the term "excess benefit transaction." If the IRS finds an excess benefit transaction, I understand that they can penalize the Trustees and even revoke the 501(c)(3) status of the AOCA.
I understand, further, from good sources, that Metropolitan PHILIP and maybe even Bishop ANTOUN consider themselves "corporations sole" not subject to tax. While "corporations sole" serve some purposes, they are also frequently a tax dodge which the IRS has often ruled against and for which it has imposed penalties. If you carefully read the background material provided in the Timeline by the Orthodox Lawyers, you'll run into a number of times in which +PHILIP has pledged or given $100,000 to various causes. How a bishop who claims he is a "corporation sole" has that kind of money (time and again) to give away in his personal capacity is beyond me-- unless he is giving away the money of the poor saps in the AOCA who think their donations and assessment are going directly from the Church to feed poor people.
Anyone out there a hungry IRS auditor looking for something substantive on which to chew? You may have found your next meal.
#3 Silouan James on 2009-04-21 06:46
Of course donations are being rerouted. Did we not see that in the OCA? Same thing, here.
#4 Phileas on 2009-04-21 09:09
I'm pretty sure they do require more than 1 signature.
#5 two signatures on 2009-04-21 09:25
Maybe we should be thinking about this type of resolution for Palm Springs...
WHEREAS, the Archdiocese of North America constitutes a territory of 20 million square kilometers (20,000,000 sq. km.), encompassing over 260 parishes; and
WHEREAS, the Archdiocese of North America is comprised of more than 300 clergymen and tens of thousands of faithful Laity; and
WHEREAS, Patriarch IGNATIUS IV acknowledged that the Archdiocese of North America is too large for one Bishop to tend; and
WHEREAS, the Archdiocese of North America was originally granted ‘Self-Rule’ on the understanding that local Diocesan Bishops would share the burden for caring for so great a number of parishes, thus providing them more direct pastoring and care; and
WHEREAS, the Patriarchate of Antioch has effectively eliminated the possibility of such local pastoral care by stripping the Diocesan Bishops of their pastoral rights and responsibilities by demoting them to Auxiliaries; and
WHEREAS, an Auxiliary Bishop has no rights or privileges to pastor the Dioceses, nor to make local decisions for the good of the people under their administrative supervision; and
WHEREAS, the people of the Archdiocese of North America deserve and require bishops who can regularly visit them in their parishes, personally interact with them and attend to their needs; and
WHEREAS, a single bishop cannot reasonable visit more than 260 parishes in five years of Sundays; and
WHEREAS, many of the problems faced by parishes require a bishop who is able both to meet with the clergy and faithful on a personal level AND make decisions without having to wait for another bishop to make final decisions; and
WHEREAS, by the fruits of our growth our previous Diocesan Bishops were judged effective and beloved by the Faithful; and
WHEREAS, the Archdiocese of North America must now rewrite its Constitution to reflect the instructions of the Patriarchate, especially since we have been without a commonly-agreed Constitution for nearly five years;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that we, the clergy and laity of the Archdiocese of North America, to preserve the good order and unity of our community with the Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, do hereby petition and plead that the Holy Synod of Antioch and All the East, presided by His Beatitude, IGNATIUS IV, elevate the Dioceses of Miami, Los Angeles, Wichita, Charleston, Toledo and Ottawa to Metropolises; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we humbly request these Metropolises shall remain districts of the Archdiocese of North America; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we humbly request the present Bishops bearing the names of these dioceses, namely, Bishops ANTOUN, JOSEPH, BASIL, THOMAS, MARK and ALEXANDER, be elevated to the rank of Metropolitan; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we humbly request the present Diocese of New York be elevated to a Metropolis, while retaining its present status as seat of the Archbishop of North America; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we humbly request that the Metropolitan of New York retain the title and function of Archbishop of North America, presiding as senior-most Hierarch of the Archdiocese and first among the Metropolitans; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we humbly request the new Metropolitans be accorded all the rights, privileges and responsibilities accorded to any other Metropolitan of the See of Antioch; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we humbly request that these changes be made immediately, through the convening of a special Holy Synod meeting not unlike the February 24, 2008, meeting used to amend the By-laws of the Patriarchate, thus demonstrating that such meetings are in keeping with the practices of our Patriarchate; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we shall continue to love, cherish, support and obey the Holy Synod of Antioch as our Church, of which we are an inseparable and coequal part.
#6 Another Antionymous on 2009-04-21 09:34
Many commentators on the sudden return to autocracy by Met. PHILIP after his magnificent labors to establish a Self-Rule constitution which embodied the ecclesiology of St. Ignatius of Antioch have attributed the action to a return to type, a return to Arab culture for all of our chief-hierarch's embrace of outward Americanism.
It seems, quite the contrary, that Met. PHILIP is all too 21st century American in this: His transparency is of exactly the same sort as the Obama administration's. He has imbibed the American zeitgeist in which stewards (be it government regulators, Congressmen, corporate CEO's, university presidents or the like) run things for the benefit of their own position, power or wealth, rather than those for whom they are stewards. The purported deposition of the diocesan bishops and the refusal to allow outside audits of the Archdiocese's finances are the behavior of one of Burnham's 'managerial class' or Djilas's 'New Class', not of a steward of Christ's Holy Church.
I have long been suspicious of those who apply the lessons of the American Revolution to matters ecclesiastical, but I am becoming less so. The American Revolution was in a manner the only conservative revolution in the history of the world: a revolt on behalf of the traditional rights of Englishmen.
A revolt on behalf of the Holy Canons and the traditional taxis of the Church would be at once classically American, and very Orthodox, having as precedent the American Revolution in the secular realm, and the resistance to the iconoclasts, to the False Union Councils and Russian autocephaly (which wasn't granted but seized when Constantinople was enthralled to the False Union) in the ecclesiastical realm, as precedents.
The best resolution to this crisis would be for SCOBA--at the demand of the faithful in all jurisdictions--to declare itself the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of [fill in your favorite North American city] and All North America, tell the ancient patriarchates that they'll get subsidies if they behave themselves, and elect a patriarch.
(Personally I think "the Patriarch of Wichita and All-North America" has a nice ring, and that the current occupant of the see of Wichita would make a wonderful first American Patriarch, in part precisely because he wouldn't want the job. I'm also sure he would see to it that the Patriarchate would have outside auditors.)
Besides Russia, I seem to recall that the autocephaly of the Church of Greece, the Church of Serbia, and the Church of Bulgaria (second time out) were established by facts on the ground long before the mother church grudgingly recognized the facts and 'granted' autocephaly.
Of course, maybe, just maybe, Met. PHILIP is the master of both the American psyche and of Byzantine politics, and he is merely feigning a return to autocracy to provoke such a revolt, thereby in one stroke attaining his long-state goal of North American unity. If that's what he's up to, I pray it works, I salute him, and ask forgiveness for taking his actions at face value.
#7 Subdeacon David Yetter on 2009-04-21 10:48
The IRS isn't interested in going after the authorities in churches where no wrong doing has been proven. If they were, the Crystal Palace, Rex Humbard, Billy Graham and many others would have been targeted. There is no proof of any wrong doing with + Philip. The Board of Trustees is well aware of what he does and Ajilat supports him 100%.
So, sorry, you're barking up the wrong tree. Unless the people and Board of Trustees of the AOCA insist upon an outside, independent auditor, you won't see it while + Philip is alive.
#8 Anonymous on 2009-04-21 11:08
The title "Financial Transparency" reminded me of a different topic. I recently received a contribution request from +Jonah. In the letter about a month ago he mentions the ongoing cost litigation. Any updates on any of the outstanding lawsuits Kondratick, Koumentacos etc? Any information about what they have budgeted in legal expenses for each of the cases?
Thanks in advance.
(editor's note: I do not have the latest figures, but I have been informed the costs have been substantial (six figures) this past quarter. Moreover, I do not have any new information about the status of either lawsuit you mention. As soon as there is any news, I am confident Syosset will release it - and failing that, I am sure it will make its way onto the internet. )
#9 s.lewis on 2009-04-21 11:53
It is a shame that Ant. Archd Board members will never see the article on Transparency! Most are mute followers considering the board meetings a necessary formality and then"dinner, etc." to follow. One Board member asked as to the sacred "Reserves" used by Met Philip from time to time. Answer as usual, "If you reveal it they wil not give." Good byzantine-arabic mentality. A united Orth Church would never allow this and the Metropolitan knows it! Thus little chance for Unity? Who wants to lose "absolute power?"
#10 Anonymous Priest on 2009-04-21 11:56
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA has the same problem. They have elected auditors who are only asked to "rubber stamp" an audit presented to them. Sadly, an independent audit has never been completed and people are afraid to even ask for one. Manipulation at its best.
#11 Hryhori on 2009-04-21 13:21
Sadly, it would be ruled out of order by Metr. Philip and never be allowed to come up for a vote. This is, after all, the man who said at the convention in Miami that he doesn't have time for Robert's Rules of Order as he (not the Local Synod) has an archdiocese to run.
Sic semper tyrannis,
#12 Nemo on 2009-04-21 13:41
It is extremely rare for Constantinople to grant autocephaly when asked. The far more common route to ecclesiastical self-govenment has been for a national church to declare autocephaly and then to spend a period of time out of sorts with Constantinople before finally receiving recognition. The shortest period was 20 years for Greece; the longest was 140 years for Russia. The main problem for the OCA is that Constantinople maintains several jurisdictions, both geographically and ethnically based, overlapping with the same territory claimed by the OCA.
Part and parcel of that problem, of course, is phyletism. Depsite having condemned phyletism in 1872, the EP maintains separate jurisdictions in the US for ethnic Greeks, ethnic Carpatho-Russians, and ethnic Ukrainians. In its desparate attempts to maintain international relevance, it has also used ethnicity to create a separate jurisdiction in Estonia for ethnic Estonians while Moscow maintains jurisdiction over ethnically Russian parishes there. The OCA, of course, still maintains separate jurisdictions for ethnic Romanians and Albanians. Even Metr. Philip phyletistically suggested recently that the disputed Jerusalemite parishes in the US should be under Antiochian jurisdiction because they were ethnically Arab. Until the EP jurisdictions, the OCA, and the AOCA all confront and eliminate phyletism within their own houses, none of them can claim to represent all Orthodox Americans.
#13 Peter C. on 2009-04-21 14:26
The Transparency Article as many others has not turned the ship around. Perhaps the lack of dollars to be transparent with will provide the necessary friction needed to get Transparency. Why not email every member of the Order of St Ignatius and ask them to suspend their membership until this is rectified, i.e., the Bishops reinstated, Full Financial Accountability and MP resignation as well as the co-conspiritors. All of them MUST GO! If money buys influence, or Neil Diamond sang in the late 70s "Money Talks, it can't sing and dance and it can't walk, Money Talks."
#14 R. U. Dollarless on 2009-04-21 20:09
All would welcome a "Patriarch" for the USA/Canada like unto the Bishop of Wichita. He would make too many God blessed reforms. No, Met Philip would'nt like that of any successor. Time is ripe for retirement as his legacy is lost,
#15 ANONYMOUS antiochean PARISHIONER on 2009-04-21 21:16
Your analysis, of course, leaves aside the fact that the only reason the OCA's territory overlaps with the territory of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese is because the Ecumenical Patriarchate created its North American eparchy on the territory of the Russian Orthodox Archdiocese of Alaska and All North America in violation of normal ecclesiatical order.
Properly speaking American autocephaly was Moscow's to grant, just as it was Antioch's that had the right to grant Georgian autocephaly.
#16 Subdeacon David Yetter on 2009-04-21 22:23
Please do not assume that all we in Canada would welcome participation in a North American patriarchate with a U.S. primatial see. Many of us would not. Indeed, many of us would prefer a separate Orthodox Church in Canada, with no administrative ties to the U.S. whatsoever. We see no point in escaping foreign rule from patriarchates across the seas, only to embrace foreign rule from a patriarchate below the 49th parallel.
#17 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2009-04-22 04:57
The only thing that has a voice in this "God Protected Archdiocese" it seems is some paper with the pictures of dead presidents.
Now be good layman shut your mouth and do not concern yourself with heirarchial matters
#18 Kevin on 2009-04-22 06:28
It is sooo true no resolution ever submitted can get to the floor. That is, without the approval of Met Philip and his two cronie Chancelors who also fear him. Knowing they will be replaced as all others who stand in the "way". No transparency ever, not allowed, too much to be revealed.....
#19 Anonymous Priest on 2009-04-22 11:37
True, but the EP will never admit that as long as they're forced to hold to their misinterpretation of Canon 28 of Chalcedon by the precarious political situation in which they find themselves. Until the EP can be convinced that relinquishing its false claims on various territories around the world and encouraging American unity will actually help gain them prestige and international support, it will continue to embrace phyletism, a heresy it previously condemned, as its only means of survival.
#20 Peter C. on 2009-04-22 11:56
What! No ethnic American jurisdiction!!!
#21 William Kosar on 2009-04-22 15:17
Thank you for making this most important point! Canada long ago should have become it's own territorial jurisdiction (no matter what Mother Church one claims), and not some extension of any US Church/Archdiocese/Eparchy. Maybe the Spirit will stir the winds of change for this, too.
#22 Another Anon on 2009-04-22 20:36
Christ is Risen!
I have two comments, I agree the rchdiocese book should have an internal audit on a regularbasis, however can any produce any factual proof of wrng doing? If not, then SHUT UP - our Archdiocese office have people working there who are diligent and ehtical, if you will make any time of accustation you beter have proof of it.
Secnd the issue of proposaling a reslution this summer to the General Assembly in California. May be we should all stop typing and praying for unity of the faith, especially whne our beloved Hierarch meet this friday. this is an issue for them and them alone to resolve. we MUST be obedient tot he Church. ITs seems to me some individuals are trying to breakup the Church and causing Schisms by continually posting comments rather than raying for the intervention fo the Holy Spirit.
Shame on all of you for doing the Devil's work!
#23 Anonymous on 2009-04-22 21:09
The IRS has initiated inquiries, or investigations if you prefer, into situations in which it thinks that violations of the U.S. tax code have occurred or interpretations at odds with those issued by the U.S. tax courts have been implemented. Some, if not a majority, of these inquiries or investigations have focused on individual tax returns. If credible accusations of improper activities to avoid taxes can be made against any of the Antiochian hierarchs as individuals, the IRS may be quite interested in making inquiries.
#24 Mark C. Phinney on 2009-04-23 02:20
Indeed, He is risen!
Is it the Devil's work to get to the truth, especially if it brings things (bad or good) that were in darkness to light? If there was wrongdoing, it can be corrected, to the glory of God. If there was nothing but good work, God will be glorified and His faithful servants esteemed.
Those who simply ask for an external, independent audit are not making accusations against anyone. Rather, they simply want to know, without any possibility of coloring the truth, where the money that they give to their church is going--if it is going to its intended purpose. Is this so wrong? In the days of the Holy Apostles and in the Early Church, what was given to the church was distributed in plain sight. Nowadays, we have centralization, offices, and all this is done behind closed doors. This does not mean that it is being done dishonestly, but no one can see it, except those who read the scant pieces of summarized information that happen to be released by the higher Church authorities. And no one knows their accuracy.
It is true, we must be obedient to the Church. However, His Eminence does not hold the Church within Himself. He is only a Metropolitan, not the Church. He, too, must be obedient to the Church. Neither he, the Holy Synod of Antioch, nor even an Ecumenical Synod has the authority or right to go against the Church, to act in contravention of the holy canons and the established order. They cannot do whatever it is that they want or deem necessary for whatever end, just as priests and laymen cannot. If a bishop, synod, or ecumenical council does something heretical or something against holy tradition, it is the duty of the laity, clergy, and the rest of the Church to oppose this vehemently. Fr. Georges Florovsky goes so far as to say it is their duty to depose the offending bishop.
For too long, in the absence of Orthodox secular authority (emperors) and popular resistance (the mob), and without objection from the rest of the Orthodox world--including right-believing bishops, far too many Orthodox bishops and synods have pushed the envelope, trampled on tradition, ignored the canons, and gone so far as to betray Orthodoxy. When will this end? Probably not until Christ returns. But the duty of the people to resist innovations, heresy, and unOrthodox teaching and actions whether by bishops (who, especially, have given vows at consecration to make no innovations), clergy, or anyone else, cannot be foresworn or denied.
You say we should stop typing and rather only pray for the intervention of the Holy Spirit. I ask you to read your Church history, which is full of instructive examples from the Lives of the Saints, who are pillars of Orthodoxy. Now, some of them prayed, and their prayer was powerful. But, consider the great luminaries--St. Athanasius, St. Basil, St. Gregory the Theologian, St. Ambrose of Milan, St. Cyril of Alexandria, St. Leo of Rome, St. Photios the Great, St. Gregory Palamas, St. Mark of Ephesus, St. Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain, St. Tikhon of Moscow, and with them the martyrs and confessors. Did they all just shut up? No! God gave them inspiration to speak against heresy, injustice, and innovation. Does He act only with bishops? Absolutely not, for among those we venerate are multitudes of laymen and monastics who resisted evil and defended the Holy Orthodox Faith to the very shedding of their blood.
And, lest you say, "But they were saints!" Who told you there were not saints today? Who told you a bishop is any more Orthodox than a child who has been baptized, chrismated, and through partaking of Holy Communion has Christ within himself? In their lifetime, many of these pillars of Orthodoxy were maligned even by those in the Church, and were not considered saints. But God revealed to the faithful the ones who are His friends.
So, don't tell me, or anyone else, that we have to put up with unOrthodox behavior, innovation, and heresy on the part of bishops or anyone else. If His Eminence really wants obedience, let him and the Holy Synod show obedience to the holy tradition of the Church.
Eric, Thank you for your comments.
I am frustated I feel everyone is jumping the gun here, for the past two months I have seen people frustration with the Holy Synod decission, however I feel we should all wait and see the otucome of the Antiochian Bishops meeting, which is today. I pray for a resolution to this matter, which is in everyone interest. I do not liek to see on the itnernet the Church dirty landry for the entire world to see.
Regarding your comments on an outside Audit, I am in 100% agreement on this and perhaps soemone wh bring this up officially to the Archdiocese Treasurer at his Dept. of finace meeting at the Archdicoes Convention this July i PalmSprngs.
#26 Anonymous on 2009-04-24 05:11
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