Tuesday, June 20. 2006
Your comments welcome. On Fr. Breton's criticisms. On my replies. On the misleading "Members' Statement". On where we go from here. On Proskauer Rose's investigation. On month nine of the scandal....
Please sign your posts if you are able.
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Oh, my! It seems the rock in the slingshot is a sharp and courageous journalist with a website. Goliath has met David -- again! Our own Dreyfus Affair and Mark's "J'accuse"!
(Apologies in advance to the editor for any embarrassment the above remark may cause.)
#1 Terry C. Peet on 2006-06-20 14:08
Mark S, thank you for your elequent response to Fr. Breton. In my 10 plus years w/ the OCA
( 1991 - 03) all I can say is that most of the financial schenanigans going on were common knowledge to the clergy.
If the problem was only money and only concerned the OCA perhaps it could be ironed out but it concerns the Patriarchal Church, a culture of personal misconduct, blackmail, extortion .... that begs the imagination.
We as Orthodox Christians in America have squandered the fullness of the faith that XC has blessed us with.
#2 Name witheld by request on 2006-06-20 14:10
Mark, thank-you for your tireless efforts in this whole matter. I'm impressed with the orderly handling of information and the reasonable suggestion of unanswered questions and issures. I tend to be a Defender of Established Institutions by nature, but I have found your efforts to be reasonable. I know that this has made you a lightening rod, and has also left you open to personal risk. But in the end, no matter the outcome, we all know that at least one voice demanded (1) accountability and (2) conciliarity. To date, I see no area in which your approach has been unfair, unreasonable or fear-mongering. Many people have confused the offices of our hierarchs with the persons, as though they were out-of-reach and beyond questin and criticism. This is not the case, and it has never been the case, from the first days of the Church until now. We have nothing to fear from the truth, though no doubt "dark days" are before us.
Why, why have the Bishops and our Priests not summoned us to weekly prayer services to the Saints of America until this problem is resolved? Certainly, we do not think that trust can be restored, inegrity renewed, fellowship rekindled by our own efforts?
St. Herman, all Saints of North America and the "Protectress of our land" -- pray for us.
Rdr. Tracey (John)
#3 Rdr. Tracey (John) on 2006-06-20 14:56
I will not speak to anything but to your comment upon anonymity:
"Just because some of my sources wish to remain anonymous, one should not accuse them of bias. Like your wife, they too, requested anonymity for the actions they felt "were for the good of the Church"."
Anonymity in the giving of gifts is a blessed thing for we are told that in charity, the right hand should not know what the left is doing. *However*, in the matter of revealing things that take place in a meeting in which one is a participant that are not part of the things made public by those involved in the meeting, anonymity gives the appearance of someone who is doing something of which he or she is ashamed. If one is going to 'tattle' for whatever reason, then simple decency demands that one put one's name on the matter. If the person giving the information believes that it is being given in the 'best interests' of the Church, I fail to see why he or she should withhold a name! Surely that motive alone absolves the source of all guilt?
Furthermore, the veracity of that person is 'in limbo' so to speak as no one knows who he or she is and therfore cannot make any determination regarding whether or not what has been 'revealed' is true or almost true or almost false or ourtright false. As has been noted in the past, the same circumstances and facts presented in a different way can lead to vastly different conclusions by those reading about them. How do your readers know if this anonymous source does indeed have 'the Church's best interests' at heart and is not carrying on some private vendetta of his or her own?
Simply put, if one is going to reveal what other people said and did (rather than one's own opinion for which anonymity might be acceptable if not preferable), then one is obligated to put a name to the source of the information. If the source cannot do that, then one must perforce question the motives involved and even the validity of what is being presented.
There has been a lot of talk on this website about 'darkness' and what takes place therein. It doesn't get much darker than posting anonymously about the comments of others.
M. Valerie Protopapas
#4 Matushka Valerie Protopapas on 2006-06-20 14:56
Thank you Matushka for bringing up a really important question.
There are many reasons a person my request anonymity: I accept only one. That they will suffer repercussions: personal or professional, for having told me their story. I think the events of the last nine months, with silencings, slander, attacks, etc. we can all agree that some people, not all, but some clergy and laity, really feel they are in such danger for telling the truth. ( In the case of the Metropolitan Council they were threatened with being expelled even before the meeting began...)
In every instance I have used anonymous sources I have agreed to respect their anonymity because I understood their situation. I wish that this were not the case: but wishing does not make it so.
In every instance, including the above story, I must have at least one other source to publish what they claim took place. Perhaps that is not adequate for you; but it is the best we can reasonably expect. I suggest you read the Boston Globe's standards on the use of anonymous sources, which I try to follow in spirit and to the letter.
In truth, I do not publish half of what is reported to me: not that I don't believe it is true, but that there is no confirmation of it. That is no less true of anonymous reports than signed ones. I question everybody's motives, everybody's intentions. And I weigh them against the information they are sharing, and what it may do to further our understanding of this scandal. I am not perfect; but my record is pretty darn good.
In this comment section, the standard is quite different. I publish comments without regard to their intent: with the exception of personal attacks, obvious errors of fact, or, for example, anti-semitic rants. I feel it is important that people in the Church hear all the different voices and styles that are in the Church - not just the ones they are comfortable, or agree with.
In the end whether you choose to believe or not believe the reportage on the website is based on whether subsequent public facts have born out what I reported; or not. Have I ever published a false document? Have I ever reported something took place that later people said did not? You know as well as I, given the constant criticism of this site if they could prove I was fabricating any of this, that my sources were not accurate, they would eat me for lunch. The fact that this site has grown, and continues to grow is proof enough that they do not dispute what I say, but that it is being said at all. And if it takes anonymity to accomplish that, so must it be.
In a perfect world people would not feel threatened. In a perfect Church all would be transparent to Christ. But we live neither in a perfect world, nor as we are discovering, a perfect Church. I can think of much darker things than posting anonymously.
Perhaps we will have to disagree about this. That's OK too. It will not stop me from writing, nor you from commenting, nor me from posting you. We will still be brothers and sisters in Christ, despite our difference on this matter.
#5 Editor on 2006-06-20 15:43
I did not state that you simply 'print' what someone says without an attempt to verify same whether or not that person signs his name. I took issue only with the comparison of anonymity in the case of a charitable act and anonymity when someone is 'reporting' on the events, comments etc. which involve others, especially if there has been a request (demand) for secrecy regarding what has taken (or will take) place.
If a person cannot or take or does not intend to fulfill that 'vow' of silence, he or she (and from now on for the sake of my carpal tunnel syndrome I will use only the masculine pronoun) should not take part in the meeting but instead come forward openly and by name and state that he could not be a part of the Council because of the demand for secrecy that was made. Indeed, if enough Council members did just that, then the onus would be on the hierarchs to abandon all this secrecy in response to the honesty and integrity of the Council lay and lower clergy members.
On the other hand, if 'anonymous' truly believes that he must know what has taken place 'for the good of the Church', or if having been at the Council believes that what was said should be revealed, then he should be willing to have his feet held to the fire for breaking whatever promise of secrecy he made *and sign his name*. It's really as simple as that.
Where no name is disclosed - and especially in the circumstances described - there is no 'accountability' and the reputation of the site (Orthodox Christians for *Accountability*) is severely compromised, at least among those who demand identified sources for any 'leaks' being put forth for consideration. If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen. If you insist upon being in the Council and are warned about disseminating consular information, you cannot then decide to break the rules and then 'protect' yourself by remaining anonymous. There is neither honor nor honesty in that type of action at least as far as I'm concerned. The last thing I knew, no member of the OCA has been taken out at dawn and shot for his or her opinions, so I am less than impressed by people who plead 'fear' while planting hearsay.
M. Valerie Protopapas
#6 Matuska Valerie Protopapas on 2006-06-20 17:00
... to the question of anonymity; speaking for myself, church is a safe zone for me a place where I can pray and hopefully grow spiritually in community w/ others in Christ. . So critics WAKE UP! We are talking major crimes, fraud, theft and that may only be the start. it has been perpertrated and covered up by our leaders . THIS IS BIG. GROW UP. Of course people want to remain anonymous. The Church is not a club or an ethnicity where one maintains the status quo, it is deeply personal experience of open comensuality, as Christ taught us by his very life. ... If someone comes to your dinner table and spits in your face you don't give them a calling card !
#7 (please withold) on 2006-06-20 18:30
thank you for keeping us in the LIGHT and TRUTH! MANY YEARS AND BLESSINGS FROM ABOVE!
#8 Anonymous on 2006-06-20 18:40
I find myself in Valerie's corner. To accept that a claim of retaliation can be the basis for anonymity indicates a need for some ethical soul-searching. One might start with what it means to be witness to the truth. The word witness is the word martyr. I know of no martyrs who witnessed to the virtues of anonymity. If one, however, doesn't want to dignify or justify one's post as a witness to the Truth, then why post at all?
Also, the acceptance counts as an agreement to all possible false witness. I know of only ONE Hierarch, for example, who actually "retaliated" against a Priest. That Hierarch tore the gold pectoral cross off a Priest in an act of industrial-strength pique because that Priest no longer wanted anything to do with that Bishop, and had fled to Hilarion of ROCOR.
Who has suffered at the hands of a Priest or Bishop from posting on the Internet anything more than censorship by his own Bishop? I can't say I myself have received bouquets from everyone, but I've never considered anonymity, and I have many parishes to worry about, not just one Bishop or Priest.
Does Monsieur Stokoe, I wonder, accept posts that are accompanied by the words, 'My Bishop (or my Priest, or my Spiritual Father) has asked me (or forbidden me) to enter into these internet discussions"? I see no ethical basis in accepting such.
There is no difference between a post from someone maligning others and having his or her name "withheld on request," and a phone call from the person who spouts obscenities and then hangs up, or who throws a stone and then runs before the "cops can get me."
While I believe that such ethical "fine points" are foreign or unknown in some circles, or even unwelcome, I nevertheless feel they must be stated.
I want to repeat again, since it relates, likewise, to a matter that is another indication of complete stone-deafness to anything ethical, that when Christ exhorts us to give in secret, he in nowise exhorts OTHERS from publicizing, bruiting, even broadcasting such deeds upon learning of them.
Who was it, by the way (I didn't read it in the bogus Report of the MC, nor did I read it in Mark's reply to Father Gary), who answered the question why the General Counel of the Orthodox Church in America had not been consulted before hiring the "outside-the-Church" lawyers, "Oh I didn't consult him because he has a hostile attitude toward Father Zacchaeus!" What could that be about? .....
Finally, how is it that the Gift of discernment of which we are told in the Holy Scriptures can be reduced to a kind of spiritual lie-detector? All this time I thought Gift of discernment was about being blessed to see Truth, the Spirit of Truth, and NOT about detecting error in others.
At least it wasn't in an encyclical, still, others do read our web site!
Commending all to Christ's love,
+Tikhon, The Bishop of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and the West. The Orthodox Church in America.
#9 Bishop Tikhon on 2006-06-20 19:00
Mark, - Well said, as usual. I cannot understand why some people are continuing to harp on the anonymous postings. We know by now that this is not a "free-for-all" anonymous forum with made-up nicks. This website has an editor who is clearly well respected by most of us posting here; I should hope that if we continue coming back, it is among other reasons because we trust that there is confirmation and cross-referencing of information.
All this demand for full personal disclosure ("I've done it and so shoud you!") smacks of self-righteousness which has no place among Christians. I personally know plenty of people who refrain from participating in this discussion even though they have something to say for fear of how the very fact of their comments would reflect on the others. I have had such reservations myself, for even though I am fortunate to have no personal reason to fear any retributions, I was concerned about how my public actions might expose others in more vulnerable positions.
Please, please think, which of us has the right to cast a stone at the other? We should rather exalt in the courage of all who have demonstrated it, even in different degrees... The very fact that there are enough of us who care and think and speak is the cause for rejoicing - that alone means that we are as a Church are alive.
#10 Inga Leonova on 2006-06-20 19:00
Bravo and Amen!
Fr. Breton's counsel, to the contrary, not withstanding, the only solution to this incredible mess is to continue to shine the light of truth on every aspect of it and not to surrender to the Siren call of "pray, pay and obey!" That is precisely the formula that created the crisis and will perpetuate it indefinitely into the future. "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." Of that, at least, Mark Stokoe can not be accused, which is more than can be said of the Holy Synod and most of the leadership of the OCA.
Sadly, it is already all too apparent what the true agenda of our leadership is--we don't need to await further clarification--obfuscate, delay and deny. Initially, the sacking of Fr. Kondratick and the willingness to obtain legal counsel (despite the anti-Semitic harangues of Bishop Tikhon) were, admittedly, encouraging and at least gave our leadership one last chance to restore its credibility. But alas, it was all a Potemkin Village!
The infamous invocation of "competing ecclesiologies" was the final straw! Now it is all about the power and authority of the hierarchy, as if any but the most simple minded or unorthodox were calling for "democracy" at least in a political sense. What is called for is treating the lay organs of the Church, and the lay people in the Church, with respect and forgoing the pride and arrogance more appropriate to a successor of Judas rather than of the Apostles. One would have thought that the painful experience of our Roman Catholic brethern would have been an object lesson in this regard--but apparently not.
So what now? Prayers for all concerned, but especially for those .... seeking the truth. Withholding financial support as appropriate until there is full disclosure and confidence is restored. Even now, at literally the eleventh hour, the Holy Synod has the opportunity to uphold all the actions of the recent Council meeting and purge itself of its most recalcitrant members such as Bishop Tikhon.
The alternative is the probable destruction of the OCA as increasingly its body shouts "Unworthy" at its head.
Ironically, the grievous sin of multiple jurisdictions in America, for which the episcopate is primarily responsible, may provide a way to bypass an unresponsive hierarchy in the OCA.
May God forbid and bring them to their senses!
#11 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2006-06-20 19:35
Mark, I would like to commend you on this eloquent response. In particular, the following paragraph was the icing on the cake:
"The OCA is not a synodal church, not a presbyterian church, not a congregational Church. We are no longer even a "proto-presbyterian" church. We are, and must return to being a fully conciliar Church in which hierarchy does not fear participation, clergy share their expanding ministries. and laity are once again thankful for all those who shepherd them. We must return to being a conciliar Church in which clergy and laity are once again eager to hear the word of truth rightly divided by their Bishops. Divided, not hidden."
This strawman from Syosset that the current scandal is the result solely of malcontents trying to impose secular democracy needs to be addressed head on and refuted. More articles would be welcome that put this phony diversion to rest as this isn't about democratic governance, but ethical and -- dare I say Christian -- conduct by those who should know better. Schmemann wrote that our clergy were obligated to openly explain every decision they made in the plain light of truth and hiding behind platitudes and canon law was not an option. The administrators in Long Island should be aware that everyone is watching in how they resolve this scandal, including our children and teens who are the future of this jurisdiction -- if in fact they remain.
#12 Richard on 2006-06-20 21:12
Why, for that matter, hasn't this website called on people to pray about this crisis? From Day One, there has been no mention of prayer on its "What You Can Do" list, when, in fact, prayer is the first thing that should be at the top of list --the first thing Orthodox Christians do BEFORE doing ANYTHING ELSE.
#13 Gregory Orloff on 2006-06-21 06:23
Dear Mr. Orloff:
I think you have answered your own question. Prayer is the first thing Orthodox Christians should do every morning; the last at night. It has not been mentioned explicitly because it is understood that this it is always being done.
Others have suggested special prayers - indeed, the Diocese of the Midwest has written special petitions - and yet others have suggested moleibens to various Saints or the Mother of God. But I thank you for reminding us all very clearly the centrality of prayer in our lives as Orthodox Christians.
With all best wishes,
#14 Editor on 2006-06-21 06:34
I have always wondered what is the correct word usuage in this part of the Liturgy. Is it: rightly to define or divide or divine the truth?
Definition of divide by Webster:
1 a : to separate into two or more parts, areas, or groups b : to separate into classes, categories, or divisions c : CLEAVE, PART
2 a : to separate into portions and give out in shares : DISTRIBUTE b : to possess, enjoy, or make use of in common c : APPORTION
3 a : to cause to be separate, distinct, or apart from one another b : to separate into opposing sides or parties c : to cause (a parliamentary body) to vote by division
4 a : to subject (a number or quantity) to the operation of finding how many times it contains another number or quantity b : to be used as a divisor with respect to (a dividend) c : to use as a divisor -- used with into
My hope is that rightly divide means to give out in portions, i.e. communion. NOT to Cleave the church but to heal in common sharing of burdens and rewards.
I think also that there is a responsibility to define the truth so that we all can agree to it as whole.
I also think there is a necessity to divine the truth, i.e. to discover truth, to pray for truth, to use all of those mystical and ascetic gifts of our Orthodox Forefathers.
The mystery is revealed through truth, and the dialectic here is: if there were lies, there will be truth. For we know that for any force, there is an equal and opposite reaction (Law of Nature). God sees all that happens in private, and ultimately decides what we are able to comprehend in his master plan for our soteriology.
There can be no marriage of heaven and hell. Just as we are called to Love our wife like Christ loves the Church, we must acknowledge that as there is imperfections in our own marriages, there is, as well, imperfections or as the Metropolitan stated," a human side to the Church." Salvation is for all, but many good friends have been lost along the way.
God is the Author of life, and, indeed this will all play-out in due time because the forces performed in secrecy will, in fact, be made known in its equal and opposite. The truth will always be revealed to us by GOD because of the Law of Nature which he established. But remember, the truth hurts and is painful, and so, we should provide Love to those whom the truth hurts… And God knows if we have enough Love to receive the Truth. His Love is manifested through us in our communion with him.
I was looking at the initial budget for St. Tikhon's when it was established 100 years ago. It was built with some $6633 donated by Fr Arseny and Bishop Tikhon and others... Where was this money from? They were very poor and didn't have a historical precedent to model this new Church in America. Could it be that we are paying interest on money that may not have been used for its intended purposes of the giver? The money came from somewhere; maybe it also included the Czar's money? I don't know. At an interest around a rate of 6% for 100 years that would be about the amount of the loan from Honesdale. This could satisfy the opposing forces and the repayment of money's used. However, in my opinion, the true gift from our Fathers is not the money used to establish the faith in America but the autocephaly itself. Freedom... Free Will
The point is, Mark, that our circumstance is one of "cause and effect" that includes a long heritage of reactions by the Godly, the Saints of our Church....You are a gentleman in your reporting and I think you are a very Christian minded individual. I admire your efforts to bring your talents to God. Please let us be patient and allow the revelation to come in all God's truthfulness. My only caution is that we Love one another, that we be gracious, and that we unite that which has long been divided, a Christian Faith calling us all to repentance, and then, forgiveness. Maybe we can give birth to parishioners, who follow his example of unity and obedience to our Father, whom always wishes to have the best for us; rather than a elephant who may stomp on all of the Godly achievements of a small group of missionaries all those years ago, our Forefathers.
#15 Anon on 2006-06-21 07:10
Shanghai, People's Republic of China
As you know I sent you a rather long posting several months personally outlining extremely dubious financial OCA matters of which I had direct and personal knowledge and you were kind enough to respond to me personally but did not post the email.
That being said, I have a few comments to make before addressing the main issue.
With all due respect, Matushka Protokapapous is extremely diligent at (a) writing lenghty postings that are almost unfathomable to even a highly educated person and (b) at entering secondary, minor and distracting arguments which have nothing to do with the issues at hand. I can speak and work in 10 foreign languages and yet the Queen's English this Madamsha uses is beyond anything in the Oxford. And that is something that needs to be said.
What also needs to be said is this : Mark, you are doing a remarkable job. Your site is truly the incarnation of the most noble virtues of the United States Constitution concerning a free and active press. You are rendering a service not only to this totally corrupted, off-kilter, money-grubing little club that is trying to pass itself off as a church but above all to the thousands and thousands and thousands of decent, moral and uprighteous Chrisitians, and in fact all believers, around the world. ...
Don't cower and don't be cowered. The truth will lead where the truth leads. And all this black long-robed clergy that are so busy trying to shut you up while they are stuffing their pockets with parishioners' dubloons need to remember one big thing from the New Testament : render under to Ceaser's what is Ceaser's and unto God, what is God's, Ceaser in this instance being the myriad institutions of the United States Government charged with reining in this kind of moral outrage....
Let the clergy rant and rave. Now it's time for a little justice from this world -- a few grand jury investigations, a few IRS investigations, a few Elliot Spitzer-ordered investigations. If they won't clean up their act out of simple recognition of their misdeed, then let them be forced to clean it up. One way or the other, as Queen Victoria said, "it is an idea whose time has come".
Xiao Ling Tong
Shanghai, People's Republic of China
WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO ETHICS AND TO MORAL VIRTUE?
When a patient has cancer, a good physician will irradiate, excise, and/or chemically sterilise the cancer.
Good physicians listen to their patients with cancer. They do not tell them to just trust them, shut up, and go away til next November.
Even with prayer, cancer usually does not simply just disappear.
The only time a good physician will not treat the cancer is if it is terminal and the patient should not be put through the pain of treatment.
Do all the bishops believe the cancer afflicting OCA is terminal, or is it just the most vociferous ones who believe it is terminal.
This cancer cannot be ignored, or just put off with platitudes. It needs radical surgery.
The real question is who could form the best surgical team for this task. I don't think anyone believes the current team is any good for the job.
We must pray indeed, and not just use prayer as an excuse to bury our heads in the sand hoping it all goes away like a bad dream.
#17 Fr Dimitrios, Saint Nicholas Parish, Bankstown, Australia on 2006-06-21 07:31
Folks are withholding names in fear of retribution. Or, they are so intimidated by their spiritual fathers that they may have an opinion, but they don't want him to know it was them.
I would surmise that one or two clergy has posted here and hidden their names too, again for fear of retribution.
Mark, awesome job! Bishop Tikhon...he's like our guy on the inside working on behalf of the little people. I am sure he was well respected within his diocese, however, through his communication of the truths and details to us, he has widened his fan base. It takes a strong man/woman to write a dissertation or opinion, and post it for the world to see, those of us that do, it makes that opinion (for or against) a bit more valid.
Suggestion, everyone should take a page from Bishop Tikhon's play book and stand up and be heard (and counted). Pose the questions, demand the truth.
Two thoughts come to mind:
"The Truth will set you free" and "If you do the crime, you do the time!"
#18 Bob H on 2006-06-21 07:43
On an earlier thread, someone had asked just who is this Mark Stokoe--with the implication that he may not be qualified to write such criticisms. Reading this thread's discussions on anonymity, it occurred to me that the ultimate issue is one of context. Yes, a signed opinion has more worth than an anonymous one, and no, an anonymous opinion is not worthless. However, a signed opinion from a known person may be better evaluated in the context of that person's background.
Not knowing Marl Stokoe's background, I did a brief on-line check. What I found is this: Mark was born in 1963, he was twice the General Secretary of Synodismos; served as Director of the OCA Department of Youth and Campus Ministry; was on the Metropolitan Council; and wrote "Youth Ministry: Sources and Resources" for the OCA's series on Youth and College Ministries, and "Orthodox Christians in North America, 1794-1004," in collaboration with Father Leonid Kishkovsky.
I stopped after four Google pages (out of 95,000) because I felt I had enough context for Mark Stokoe. At least for me, he is a serious man, certainly worthy of attention. I hope this little bit of input helps.
#19 Kyrill on 2006-06-21 08:08
You state, "If you insist upon being in the Council and are warned about disseminating consular information, you cannot then decide to break the rules and then 'protect' yourself by remaining anonymous". So from your point of view, the council members should maintain confidentiality regarding everything that the church leaders demand. How convenient for those in power and of abundantly questionable moral fiber! All they need is to declare it confidential and they protect themselves, right? Well, guess what, a lot of us have had it with this abuse of power and intimidation put upon the council members. They are being applauded for helping to allow the bright light of true shine forth. The Metropolitan Council is not an elite gathering of church leadership cronies. These people have a job to do, and it is a sin that they have to endure such intimidation and even wrath by some.
#20 Terry Filippini on 2006-06-21 10:11
If you don't sign your name, you are forfeiting accountability. In other words, you are making statements which, at this point in time are only speculative, and wish them to be accepted by those reading your anonymous post without having the courage to put your name openly on them. That's, frankly, bad enough. But it's far worse when someone is 'reporting' what others have said and done and not owning up to being the person doing the 'reporting'. For a site that apparently stresses 'accountability', that type of thing just doesn't wash. Indeed, it is diametric to 'accountability'.
If you believe what you are posting, then you should have the courage to do so openly. If you don't have the courage, then you shouldn't post it at all. Since no one is faced with imprisonment or death for the expression of their opinions, I fail to see the problem. If you are made 'uncomfortable' by identifying yourself, be aware that others are being made 'uncomfortable' by your accusations. The very least that you can do in the matter of simple civility, never mind Christian charity, is to let those involved know who is doing the accusing!
I don't remember Athanasius sending in his position on the divinity of Christ to the Ecumenical Council in an unsigned document even though he, a deacon, knew that most of the bishops - and probably the Emperor - were on the other side of the issue! Since we are supposed to hold the Saints up as examples for our own behavior, I suggest that all of those souls who, for whatever reason, prefer to remain anonymous - that is, in the dark and unknown - either rethink that position or post something that they are not afraid and/or ashamed to post!
It is possible to make a constructive criticism in a Christian way to which no rational man can take exception. However, even if someone should take exception, so be it! One must have the courage of one's convictions or one's convictions aren't worth the time to post - or to read.
If you are in the right, then Christ will guarantee your 'spiritual safety' even if all oppose you. And as you run no risk of arrest and prosecution, the most you will have to deal with is the disapproval of those whom you are already attacking and therefore you need not be concerned about their opinion of you. You can't have it both ways - that is, attack others and then hide to avoid the consequences of your attack. I think that is what's known as 'bushwhacking' and while it might be a valid strategy in war, as far as I know it isn't encouraged in the Church.
M. Valerie Protopapas
#21 Matuska Valerie Protopapas on 2006-06-21 12:17
Unless the topic has shifted to the virutes of signed posts, I want to get back to the issue of Father Gary's words.
I agree with him that there is sensationalism here on this site. I don't think that ANY of us are immune from it... Mark does an outstanding job of keeping focused on the news and the events, but can, occasionally, put a spin on things. It's probably impossible to actually care about our church and NOT flavor, filter or spin the news. These are crazy times. I went back and read my posts to this site since January and, guess what, I have expressed my agenda too.
But what Fr. Gary says, far more eloquently than I can, is that we've got to see our way to the END of this. Patience IS a virtue, along with forgiveness, charity and humility. No one, I trust, wants to see this site up and running a year from now, covering the same subject matter.
Incidently, referring to others other by French titles is NOT a virtue in this country, even when performed by a bishop, but then, my bias may be showing.
#22 Marty Brown on 2006-06-21 13:52
Thanks be to God for our holy church and men such as yourself. I am a convert of two years standing, and I ask that you not use my name because there is much about the church which I do not yet understand and I wish not to do any harm.
I came to Orthodoxy as a result of serious financial irregularities in the fundamentalist church of my youth. When there is the appearance of evil, I believe we have a duty to confront it and to challenge the wrong doer to repent. This is not just for the benefit of the collective church, but all the more for the benefit of those doing wrong. Be strong and be loving. Do not come to love the struggle, but continue to love God, the Church and all us sinners.
#23 Name witheld by request on 2006-06-21 14:16
The website editor has not called for any action on the part of anyone, implicitly or explicitly. To criticize for not calling for prayer is a bit disengenuous.
I can only speak for myself, but I believe my opinion reflects that of others. I can no longer trust this heirarchy (with notable exception - Abp. JOB). I'm deeply, deeply saddened by this fact. The Holy Synod has decided to serve mammon.
It is not the website editor's job to create action -- that is our call. So what are we to do?
I ask St. Raphael of Brooklyn, along with St. Tikhon the Enlightener and St. Innocent of Alaska, to interceed with Christ on our behalf, for guidance for Orthodoxy in North America.
I ask the Antiochians, which share our devotion to St. Raphael, to lead the effort, either as a single group or through SCOBA, to investigate their brother OCA heirarchs, in conjunction with clergy and laity, to determine if Bishops should indeed be deposed.
It is obvious to me that this scandal in governance raises issues in Orthodox ecclesiology, and requires a synod of all the Bishops of North America to resolve this crisis.
The leadership in the Heirarchy has demonstrated their unwillingness to even listen and consider the cries of their faithful. Perhaps they will listen to their brother Bishops in Orthodoxy, particularly those who live and work in North America.
Martin D. Watt, CPA (Inactive)
#24 Marty Watt on 2006-06-21 15:09
Thanks for the google. However, in the interests of accuracy let me add, correct, and clarify some of your findings regarding my church activities:
I was born in 1955, not 1963. (1963 Mark Stokoe, no relation, is a world class hang glider in Western Australia.)
I was chrismated into Orthodoxy in 1976.
I graduated from St. Vladimir's Seminary in 1981.
I was the Administrative Assistant for the OCA's Diocese of the West from September 1981 to August 1982.
From 1982-1989 I served one term as an assistant Secretary General of Syndesmos, The World Fellowship of Orthodox Youth; and two terms as the Secretary General, living in Europe.
From 1988-1991 I was the first Director of the OCA's Department of Youth and Campus Ministry, working at Syosset half time, and from 1989 on, full time.
In 1994-5 I was asked by Syosset to co-author "Orthodox Christians in North America 1796-1996" for the OCA. (So much for the "disgruntled former employee" riff)
In the past 10 years (1996-2006) I have served two terms on my parish council, two terms as parish council President, helped organized a Diocesan Assembly, served one term on Metropolitan Council, participated in OCA-DRE as well as at SVS meetings, and was a keynote speaker at the 50th anniversary celebrations of Syndesmos in Durres, Albania.
I have not posted any personal information before because this website is not about me. However, since many people have asked, and you googled, I post the above.
With all best wishes,
#25 Editor on 2006-06-21 16:35
You state my feelings precisely. Father Breton is a kindly and thoughtful priest, but Mark's rebuttal (if you want call it one) is brilliant and devastating. I see nothing in his statements that is sensational other than the truth. This whole business with anonymous posts is a distraction from the key issues - accountability, transparency and the continuing effort to obfuscate, conceal or avoid admitting the full extent of this fiasco. I'm sure because it will cost many people their positions of "honor" and spiritual authority. How in God's name can we trust anything coming from Syosset or respect our leaders? Richard you are right on with your comments about conciliarity and referring to Fr. Schmemann comments. Oh, how we miss Fr. Alexander of blessed memory and his integrity. I thank God for Mark and Bishop Job who will not relent until all the ugly facts are exposed. Until then, how can one blame those wishing to post anonymously? Recriminations and threats abound from the highest levels. Lord have mercy on us.
#26 Rich on 2006-06-21 17:11
I must say that I share Matushka Protopapas' distaste for people "pleading fear while planting hearsay." There are those who use this excuse as a cover for their own agendas, and it is refreshing to see someone call them on it from a Christian perspective. As far as I'm concerned, there is no other honorable course of action for a Metropolitan Council member than the one Matushka has outlined so clearly--either don't agree to maintain secrecy and step down, or accept the cost and speak out. Giving credit where credit is due, Bishop T. also hit the nail on the head on this point. Today we've learned that two members of our military were horribly butchered in the course of performing their duty "rendering unto Caesar," but it's too much to ask that a Metropolitan Council member endure being threatened with expulsion from the Council while performing his or her duty "rendering unto God?" So much for being the church of the martyrs! To the anonymous individual who admonished us to "grow up," I would say "physician, heal thyself." It is time for our Council Members to stand up and be counted--not hide behind anonymous postings. Others may get a pass on declining to be named (though I wouldn't let them off the hook too easily), but the Council members are in a separate category here--and I think they need to act accordingly.
#27 Cathy Tatusko on 2006-06-21 17:56
O SAINT ALEXIS OF WILKES-BARRE PRAY FOR US!
#28 Anonymous on 2006-06-21 19:17
Okay ..... Okay ..... Okay. Uh .... Are the allegations true, or are they false?
#29 Name withheld on 2006-06-21 19:38
Bravo Mark! We are blessed with your efforts to shed some light on the unfortunate (read chaotic) "situation" our OCA finds itself in. As Dan Rather said in his farewell to CBS: "courage."
Our OCA may not be able to survive in the near term, due to the clandestine and Byzantine intrigues apparent, after almost two decades of mis-management. I liken the situation to what occurred in Chernobyl, Ukraine when its' core and operations melted down. After heroic sacrifice of the lives of many, a concrete sarcophagus was ultimately poured over the whole site and it was abandoned.
There may be "no fixes" to our chaos, sadly. May Our Lord and Savior Bless, Save and Protect our metropolia and lead us to seek the blessing and leaderships of hierarchical omophorions of other canonical jurisdictions in North America. Perhaps in so doing, we will ultimately gain a unified Orthodox patriarchate for us all, in this century.
#30 Name Withheld By Request on 2006-06-21 20:10
"If you believe what you are posting, then you should have the courage to do so openly. If you don't have the courage, then you shouldn't post it at all."
I wonder if Valerie has left Christian courage and entered the realm of idealism here. I would agree that the above formula applies in most cases, but clearly there are times when it should not. I don't think Valerie would encourage a child (to use just one example) to place themselves in harms way by naming an adult pervert "openly". Also, what would she have the sinner do who does not have the requisite courage? She would have the truth remain hidden. Now, her and others warnings about the abuse of anonymity are duly noted - most thinking adults will take an anonymous source with the required grain of salt. The simple fact is that much of what we know to be fact today in this mess was merely anonymous allegations at one point. Valerie’s idealism does not seem to take this reality into account...
#31 Christopher Encapera (OCA-North Carolina) on 2006-06-22 07:39
This is my first post and a short one at that. I was thinking the same, Marty, that somehow SCOBA might get involved and have some authority to help the OCA bishops to see the light and mend their ways. Is this possible? Maybe if not authority, then perhaps a responsibility to counsel spiritually? Just wondering, and hoping (sometimes beyond hope) that someone in leadership will wake up and smell the coffee
#32 Karen Jermyn on 2006-06-22 09:14
The OCA continues to have a governance problem. The hierarchy want full power, but apparently don't know how to read a financial statement, or how to respond to a bad one.
The 2002 financial statements as quoted by Bishop Tikhon made clear that temporarily restricted (9/11) funds had been misappropriated, yet no one in the hierarchy or the MC disclosed this problem to clergy or laity prior to the July 2005 AAC, and frankly, I'm wondering if the MC knew.
There was no budget shortage appeal in 2003, 2004, 2005, or 2006. Four years of patience?
I'm equally disappointed the letter by the MC wasn't approved by the MC as I was with the overeditorialization by Mark in disclosure.
However, I was just as disappointed that the Metropolitan must respond to matters of Statute and scheduling the AAC with "I'll get back to you in October". The OCA bureaucracy is slower than the federal government, and our membership is much smaller, let alone the governing persons. (you think?)
Bishop Tikhon, I suppose you'll be reading my post. Don't you find it even a little disturbing that the MC is following the Statutes regarding AAC scheduling and the Metropolitan reponds by saying he must consult with the Synod [you] in 4 months to see if the Statute can be followed? It seems that the MC and the Synod could work together much better if the Synod followed the statute. Maybe that means the Synod and the MC should meet together a bit. I'll be the first person to understand the AAC is expensive and if the church hasn't paid for the 2005 in 2006, a delay may be fiscally responsible, but rules are rules, unless you amend them. Pardon my complete confusion.
As for the editorial pulling apart the good Priest's letter, I found it to be a bit defensive, but I completely get it.
In general, I'd prefer the editor stick with the facts, those are bad enough. One important fact, though, without the website and the passion of the editor; we wouldn't know much. The passion part is hard to measure and apply rules to..
Thanks Mark and thanks to the good Priest, too.
#33 Daniel E. Fall on 2006-06-22 09:26
The fear of retaliation is understandable. Eric Wheeler spoke up in 1999 and was summarily fired. Thank God he had skills that could be used elsewhere.
#34 Alla J. Wheeler on 2006-06-22 13:20
Your Open Letter was wonderful for the enlightenment of seeking truth in love.
I don't think prayer was ever discounted as a viable source of comfort and solution for our present day crisis in the OCA. During many times of historical crisis, a blessed and holy wonder-working icon was carried to the area of crisis. With all due respect and consideration, perhaps us faithful should form a pilgrimage and each carry an icon of a saint of North America and form a peaceful gathering and congregate outside the OCA doors at Syosset, singing the Troparia to the Saint. I believe there are many people that are, and have been, in serious prayer about the state of affairs within the OCA Syosset administration.
But back to the "pay unto Caesar" considerations, are we supposed to hear now, on some official OCA level, some amount that each OCA member is supposed to, or requested to, try to pay to the OCA to pay off our $1.7 million dollar loan?
#35 Patty Schellbach on 2006-06-22 16:45
This attack on annonimity sound like the words of someone in a position of authority (aka protected).
In my short and relatively uneventful life in the orthodox church, I have seen several people silenced (both clergy and laity). Surely your Grace, you can think of at least one or two more examples than the dramatic one you listed.
#36 Peter Baker on 2006-06-22 17:46
Dear Matushka, history is littered with examples of individuals who, in direct defiance of instruction, acted anonymously for the greater good. To indicate that there is no honor in this behavior would seem to diminish the contributions of many, many people who saved lives, reported drug dealers or funded revolutions.
I am not an historian, but didn't we have some fore-fathers who published highly charged editorials under pen-names ? Would you consider them as planting heresay (I'm sure many at the time felt that way).
Far be it for me to judge anyone's motivation. All I know is that a lot of issues were mis-handled, and no one seems ot be stepping up to take responsibility. In the absence of true character, ie, admitting an error and taking your lumps for it, I will take the weaker character (para-phrasing your words) of those who report anonymously.
#37 Peter Baker on 2006-06-22 18:01
I enjoyed Inga Leonova's thoughts in her reflection. She adds many insights to this painful chapter in the OCA's history.
#38 Pattty Schellbach on 2006-06-22 20:03
Thank God for you, Mark. Just please keep informing us.
#39 withheld on 2006-06-22 20:31
Dear Brothers and Sisters, let us turn to St Herman of Alaska for his intercessions,
In anticipation of the Sunday of All Saints of North America, I prayed the Akathist to St Herman of Alaska this morning, and was moved to tears by lines such as these in this beautiful service to our beloved wonderworker, patron and heavenly intercessor:
"We entreat you, O Venerable Father Herman, to pray fervently to the Lord, that He will protect His Holy Church from faithlessness and schism, from false teaching and willfulness, that we may sing to God Who has dealt bountifully with us: Alleluia!" (12th Kontakion)
"Our Venerable Father Herman... in your service to God, you were faithful over the little things. And as the Lord said, 'You have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much'. Now, when this word has been fulfilled in you, the Lord has set you over our whole Church, as her heavenly protector. We call to you in fervent prayer: Entreat the Lord to keep our Holy Church steadfast in Orthodoxy and to reveal her as an adornment of our land. May He protect her from all the dark powers of the enemy and drive out all adversaries. May He grant us purity of faith and beauty of soul. Pray He will grant us the spirit of peace and love, the spirit of humility and meekness and drive out the sin of pride. Save us from self-praise..." (Prayer to St Herman following the Akathist)
"...O Venerable Hermit of Spruce Island... pray for peace within the Church, and dispel all disunity, faithlessness and discord. Come to the aid of our spiritual leaders that they may always be true and effective instruments of the Holy Spirit; enable them to proclaim the truth of the Gospel with power... fortify them with the perseverance to defend the Church, even unto death, from all enemies both within and without and at all times. May the hearts of your spiritual children be filled with that faith and love of the Holy Church which you manifested in your holy life; pray [the Lord] to deliver us from temptations which cause us to fall; renew in us a child-like faith in our Heavenly Father; teach us to place our trust in God, and in Him alone..." (Prayer to St Herman to be offered before his holy relics or icon on the day of his glorification, August 9)
Let us all, hierarchs, clergy and laity - together comprising the 'laos', the People of God - let us all turn to Blessed Father Herman now at the hour of our crisis. Let us all repent of our sins. Let us vomit out of ourselves the bitter worldliness that has crept into our souls, turned our hearts sour, and made our faith so weak. The devil rejoices to see the clamor this crisis has stirred up, not so much on the internet, but within our hearts. Let us struggle to repent, and ask the Lord to uproot the thorns of judgment, hostility, distrust and despair from the soil of our hearts. Let us soften that soil with prayer and daily reading of the Word of God, with frequent confession and reception of the most pure Body and most precious Blood of our Lord. Let us rout the devil and put him to shame by our love and forgiveness for one another.
I truly believe with all my heart that if we turn to Saint Herman now, and, repenting of our sins and worldliness, pray the Akathist to him at least weekly between this Sunday of All Saints of North America and the Feast of his Glorification on August 9, we will see our Holy Church emerge from this time of troubles healed, strengthened and made whole once more. (This is similar to Patty's beautiful suggestion of a pilgrimage and prayerful procession with icons to Syosset.)
A time of winnowing and pruning is upon us, calling us all to a deeper life in Christ. Some are called to shepherd the flock, some are called to be the watchmen on the battlements, but we are all called to pray.
asking your forgiveness and prayers,
your unworthy servant,
Link to the Akathist to St Herman:
#40 zosimas on 2006-06-24 11:30
Vengeance is mine, saith the Protestants.
If the allegations are true, but the guilty sincerely repent and also forgive others, are they not going to be forgiven by God?
Is there a standard for hierarchs of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church that is different from the standard for the rest?
Whether we earthlings ever find out the veracity or otherwise of the allegations, the Lord knows all, and is not mocked.
May He forgive me, and them.
#41 Rdr. Alexander Langley on 2006-06-24 18:57
Inasmuch I appreciate and agree with much Dan has posted throughout this website, I respectfully disagree with his reference to Mark's excellent reply to Fr. Breton as "a bit defensive". It is a time-honored and acceptable journalistic practice to play the role of devil's advocate especially when dealing with long-standing intractable problems such as the O.C.A. financial scandal. Mark's point by point response to Fr. Breton displays the hallmarks of the best use of this practice (devil's advocate) by his professionalism and integrity, while maintaining a balance that does not send the issue into left field. My hope is that no one will be intimidated from future postings as comments by Fr. Breton also help to restore balance and maintain perspective.
While I am convinced that the worst revelations are yet to come, I remain optimistic that the Lord will clear a path for us out of this mess, especially after having read the penetrating comments of Inga Leonova and Frs. Arida, Wojcik, Plekon and Nehrebecki.
Terry C. Peet
#42 Terry C. Peet on 2006-06-25 09:26
Fr Breton wrote: "I fear that this type of reporting will promote an environment of division, depression, fear, and despondency ... The fact is that it is only speculation when people accuse others of stonewalling, protecting people, lying, hiding, etc."
Well, let's revisit the Metropolitan's statement to the Metropolitan Council on November 9, 2005: "When these accusations and concerns were first voiced, the Holy Synod thoroughly reviewed them. At it's recent meeting, the Holy Synod once again discussed this matter and decided that these concerns have no merit, as they were thoroughly addressed and resolved several years ago. It is in keeping with appropriate ecclesiastical order that, as his diocesan hierarch, I have responded to Protodeacon Eric and have addressed with him the inappropriate and irresponsible manner in which he has brought this matter before the public."
Now we have audits and lawyers and loans (oh my!) and no chancellor. So whose "reporting" and "speculation" are really promoting "division, depression, fear and despondency?"
#43 Anonymous on 2006-06-25 12:45
"So whose "reporting" and "speculation" are really promoting "division, depression, fear and despondency?"
I usually avoid responding to Anonymous postings, but the answer here is too easy. The answer is BOTH. If the Syosset press releases from past and present don't ring true, it doesn't give Mark or me or anyone else some God-given right to over-sensationalize the responses. Something about two wrongs not equaling one right seems appropriate here.
Father Gary's critique was that Mark added a flavor to the reporting of the meeting and used an editorial approach to it by reciting the lack of action or challenge by the MC. In effect, Father Gary asked us to rethink if this style of writing and reporting will get us closer to the end of the crisis.
Mark is a gifted writer and probably cares more about our church than some who are paid to serve it while wearing basic black and interesting headwear. Just because I mostly agree with him and applaud his efforts to wake us up to this ugly mess doesn't mean that he's beyond criticism.
#44 Marty Brown on 2006-06-26 12:31
I don't want to harp on the issue of anonymous posts, but I felt that I needed to give my own reasons as to why I wish to protect myself. My husband is a new-ish priest and I do not want my thoughts which, for now, are my own to taint his good name. He's had enough hardships placed on him in his short tenure as a priest and the last thing he needs is to somehow be black listed by the powers that be.
I am very grateful to Mark for sacrificing his good name and providing a place for frustrated members of the OCA to vent their frustration in a safe manner.
MOST HOLY THEOTOKOS SAVE US!
#45 Matushka F on 2006-06-26 18:09
This insert was added to the litany in some parishes:
Lord, have mercy on Your Holy Church in this land: on our Holy Synod of Bishops, the clergy, monastics and all the faithful. Fill us with Your Grace; send us a spirit of wisdom and discernment, that all the members of Your Holy Body may serve You in all truth, love, integrity, and peace, as befits those who are called by Your Name, we pray You, hear us and have mercy.
#46 A pilgrim and a sinner on 2006-06-27 06:37
Dear Anonymous on 6-25-05,
Oh my! To quote you, "They were thoroughly addressed ...." Are you kidding? Why is there now a loan for $1,700,000 now due to the Honesdale National Bank? Why is it that the Chechen relief fund was short $30,000? Whys is it that the missionary appeals fund was short $87,560? Why is it that the the seminary appeal was short $151,940? Shall I continue to name every single fund that has been identified as being shorted? And you "addressed" it?
You are a very bright person, how much is it costing the OCA every single day for the way in which this was "addressed?" Here's some simple math for you: $1,700,000 x 7.97% = $135,490.00 That's just the interest per year! "Oh my" is right!
There is a wonderful Latin expression, "Res ipsa loquitur." It means, "the act speaks for itself." Are the allegations true or false? The loan of $1.7mil would seem to suggest yes.
#47 Fr. Michael Tassos on 2006-06-27 07:51
Having in the past used 'creative accounting' in my own family when things were 'tight', I know that it is possible to 'borrow' from one place - the money to pay the electric bill - in order to 'pay' another more urgent need - the oil delivery when it's 5 below. The money is eventually 'made up', but that type of 'arrangement' sometimes means (and in our case DID mean) that we were spending beyond what we took in, not a very wise fiscal strategy but sometimes - given unexpected and unusual circumstances - what actually obtains.
The question now is this: is the 'shortfall' in the OCA National Church a matter of 'redirecting' funds for some plausible if unwise reason (too many trips abroad by the episcopate, perhaps?) or the actual REMOVAL of funds which then found their way into the pockets of a person or persons yet to be disclosed. I'm afraid this is the BIG question!
If it is a matter of 'spending beyond our means' as a Church, that is both foolish and shows a lack of proper stewardship among those put into positions of trust to husband the gifts of the Church. However, foolish or even incompetent, it is not a crime but a shame and those who have failed in their fiscal responsibilities owe an apology to the whole Church while other BETTER stewards are put in their place to avoid any such future malfeasance.
On the other hand, if there were those who actually PROFITTED from what has occurred, whose pockets were lined with GOD's treasure, then of course, far more drastic measures must be taken and those involved must be brought to answer not only to the Church but to Ceasar for the laws of the State have also been broached.
The problem at this point is that we do not KNOW which of the above is true and therefore all those who talk about 'wrongdoing' (in the latter sense) are putting the cart before the horse. The time now has come to find out not only WHAT happened but who was responsible. Once those two questions have been answered, it is time enough to determine if the matter is one of simple incompetence or of criminality. Prior to that time, however, we must exercise Christian restraint lest we unjustly accuse a brother in Christ of wrongdoing.
The investigation must continue until this matter is determined. Anything less and the Church risks planting the seeds of distrust and division which in the end will cost far more than any amount of mere money.
M. Valerie Protopapas
#48 Matuska Valerie Protopapas on 2006-06-27 12:15
Marty Brown wrote: "If the Syosset press releases from past and present don't ring true, it doesn't give Mark or me or anyone else some God-given right to over-sensationalize the responses."
Forgive me, Marty, for appearing to assume "a God-given right" (freedom of speech). I do appreciate your reluctance to respond to anonymous posts like mine. However, Syosset Press releases seem to be among the only viable paper trails in this mess. And if the FACTS suggest they don't "ring true," is merely to point that out "over-sensationalizing the responses?"
Also, Marty, I fear someone else may be posting in your name. Are you the same Marty who left a "trail" on this site on 4/14 writing: "But Bishop Tikhon continues to disappoint me with his less-than-coherent diatribes, his stunning lack of charity, and his cold, callous treatment of fellow Christians"?
There's a benefit in posting anonymously. Words can't come back to bite you... but FACTS can stand on their own.
#49 Anonymous 6/25 on 2006-06-27 13:20
'There is a benefit in posting anonymously. Words can't come back to bite you...' Well, that is certainly a 'benefit' of a sorts, but it is also shows, forgive me, a lack of the courage to witness to one's convictions and a desire to avoid *accountability*. If there are no 'consequences' - that is, if one's words can be spoken without having to worry about the affect that they have - for good or ill - on oneself or others, then one can say anything about anyone without having to even take time to consider what that might eventually mean. It's rather like a sharp knife in the hands of a two year old and frequently, discourse that accompanies large doses of anonymity reaches about the same level of maturity.
The fact is, that there is no such thing as anonymity! Jesus Christ has clearly said that we will all be made to answer 'for every idle word' and, frankly, I don't think that He will be put off by the lack of a name! Far better that one's words 'bite' one here and now when there is the opportunity for repentence and forgiveness when necessary rather than to carry them to Judgment and have them bite one there.
M. V. P.
#50 Matuska Valerie Protopapas on 2006-06-27 19:08
My sighs are becoming longer... My patience wearing thinnner...
However, I do continue to pray and still trust in prayer.
Holy Saints of North America, pray unto God for us!
I don't know about you, but before a 1.7 million dollar loan was ever approved, would not the OCA administration have wanted to propose and have a solid plan, and let the faithful know of said plan, as to how to pay back this black nemessis precisely before this loan amount was ever approved?
Whether we know if the "allegations are true or false" what I observe is an OCA who is constantly risking its faithul's trust, patience, good will, and finances. I dont' know how many OCA faithful have to stomach to weather all of this.
Where is the plan to pay off this amount? Why have we not seen or heard from any of OCA's administration a plan to pay off this amount?
God help this OCA. It is one crayon short of the crayon box... one fry short of a Happy Meal... perhaps more...
#51 Patty Schellbach on 2006-06-27 20:55
Yes, I'm the same Marty that made that post regarding the Bishop of the West. Funny thing is, I feel no bite, I see no teeth marks. Perhaps they'll come. I'll stand for signing my posts over the valors of anonymity any day.
Your comment about facts reminds me of the Oscar Wilde quote that the truth is rarely pure and never simple. I suspect that Mr Wilde might add that the facts are incapable of standing without the support of embellishment. (Sorry Oscar.)
#52 Marty Brown on 2006-06-27 21:21
I am afraid that the seeds of distrust have already been planted.
Most of us expect that when we donate to a Charity Appeal, a 9/11 relief fund, the Beslan relief fund, etc., that mostly all of that money will go to those in need, with a small percentage going toward administrative fees. We are seeing that such a situation has not been happening. Tragically, those most in need are not getting help, and those who donated (apparently) were duped. I could be very wrong, but then again the central church administration is not giving very many facts to suggest otherwise.
The worst part of this situation is that (again, apparently) the faithful were not trusted to handle the truth of what was really going on. Had the central church simply come out and said that they have had to borrow from special appeals to cover expenses elsewhere, and that new budgets and oversight committees were being instituted to eliminate unnecessary/extravagant expenses, I think the people would have been much more understanding. They could have even had a special appeal to correct the church's finances... and I bet the turnout would have been good.
Fr John Reeves' reflection (from Jun 25) is revealing in that, if it is accurate, the Metropolitan Council has not been conscientious in their duties. If the MC had been truly conscientious, then we should not have this mess that we have now! If Fr John's delineation of the Metropolitan Council's responsibilities is true, then another question arises: Why have they not taken their job seriously? or, even more importantly, Does it bother anyone that they have not taken their job seriously?
More and more it seems that the central church administration is stuck in "old country" ways even though we don't live in the old country anymore. We do not have a state-supported church as they did (and some still do) in the old country. Donations come largely from grass-roots fundraising, but there needs to be an element of trust toward those who receive the donations. Again, all that we have belongs to God, but He does charge us with being responsible (rather than irresponsible) stewards of what He gives us. I think God would be much more pleased to see the children in Beslan, 9/11 families, or His seminarians benefit, rather than see the same money used to cover a trip to Moscow or an over-the-top convention at a nice hotel.
Finally, others have raised the issue of moving the central church administration to a less extravagant location, i.e., selling the property on Long Island, using the profits to pay off the financial problems, and moving the central church to a more simple location, even to a monastery such as St Tikhon's. I wouldn't be surprised if the church, in the long run, thrived and grew stronger by such a move. God is strongest in humility and weakness, and what would be a more humble move?
So, Matushka Valerie, the seeds of distrust have already been planted. Let us pray that they do not sprout much more into trees of division.
Gregg Gerasimon MD
MAJ, MC, USA
#53 Gregg Gerasimon on 2006-06-27 22:11
Let us not confuse 'truth' with 'facts'; they seem to have become in this day and age of imprecise language usage, interchangeable. They aren't.
Facts represent a type of thing. For instance, fact: Mother has found ten dollars missing from her wallet. That is a 'fact'. But what, as a famous Roman once said, is Truth? Was the money removed by someone feloniously? Did Dad need an extra ten spot and hadn't the time to ask Mom when he took it? Did Mom, perhaps, take it herself and forget that she did (Deacon John does that all the time)? There may even be 'other' answers (like Mom forgot to put it in her wallet in the first place and only THINKS that it was there!) but whereas there is FACT, that fact does not necessarily lead directly to the truth of the matter.
In the instant case, there appear to be LOTS of facts, some of which are very confusing. If therefore, the FACTS are confusing, how much more confusing is it going to be to determine the TRUTH arising from those facts? What is needed, therefore, is patience - yes, even when it begins to wear 'thin'. In fact, patience is never more needed than when it begins to wear 'thin'. For at that point, we are most vulnerable to the wiles of the devil who wishes to sow discord and confusion.
The current situation did not happen in a week or a month or even a year and it isn't going to be completely explained and addressed any quicker than it took to occur. In fact, it usually takes three times as long to clean up a mess than to create it in the first place. Are we, as the Faithful and members of the Church sufficiently mature to be willing to wait before we act - or try to act?
Again, I believe that it comes down to our trust in God's ability to fulfill His plan. We say we believe that He cannot be thwarted, yet I have read a number of posts lamenting the fact that 'we'll never know', 'it can't be fixed', 'all is lost'... etc. Is God really so lacking in power that the Chancery and hierarchy of the OCA can thwart His will? I don't think so, and further, I don't think that most (if not all) of those involved wish to do so. Whatever we may believe about how they are going about addressing this matter, it would be very sad indeed to learn that the majority of those in charge of the Church wish to thwart God's will in this matter. However, as that cannot be done in any event, we need have no fear on that account.
#54 Matuska Valerie Protopapas on 2006-06-28 07:01
Frankly, this tiresome debate over anonymity is yet another sad reflection on the state of the OCA. Why is it that so many feel the need to post anonymously surely knowing that this devalues the impact of their comments?! Are we living in the Middle Ages or Communist Russia where a price might truly be exacted? If someones position in the OCA is at stake then one needs to summon the courage of their convictions. But what seems to really drive the anonoymous posts is fear and dread of retribution from above, i.e. excommunication?
--as if the four horsemen of the Apocalypse are loose and running the place.
I pass no judgement on any particular person's desire to remain anonymous, merely on the situation which makes it such a popular choice.
#55 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2006-06-28 07:23
Marty wrote: "Your comment about facts reminds me of the Oscar Wilde quote that the truth is rarely pure and never simple."
There you go again, Marty, "over-sensationalizing responses." Oh wait... that's what you accused the editor and me of!
A final thought on anonymous posts (as I slip back into oblivion)... they sometimes succeed in directing more attention to the message rather than the messenger.
#56 Anonymous 6/25 on 2006-06-28 08:48
Since MH took it out...on his good word and reputation...then he can pay it back the same way...
#57 george cingolani on 2006-06-28 11:46
Many years ago, I had the priviledge of hearing Archpriest John Meyendorff of blessed memory speak to some seminarians at a local Catholic seminary. Fr. John was, as usual, wonderful with his own brand of English which made every pronouncement (especially for those who knew him) anticipate a possible Spoonerism. However, the biggest laugh Fr. John got that night was not from any language 'gaff', but rather when he told the young men the following, "You know," he said with great seriousness, "in the Catholic Church, the bishops do not trust the people whereas, in the Orthodox Church *the people do not trust the bishops*!"
The 'trust' of which you speak has not been lost so much as it has never really existed at least totally. I was speaking of a destruction of trust on such a level as would make the Church ungovernable.
M. V. P.
#58 Matuska Valerie Protopapas on 2006-06-28 14:08
Just an observation about all the discussion of anonymity and retribution: In the OCA web page photo gallery, there are photos of a visitation by Metropolitan Herman to the parish in Dix Hills, NY. Protodeacon Eric Wheeler is quite visible in 4 of the photos, since that is the parish where he is assigned, and was serving with the Metropolitan. Yet he is never identified in the captions. Further down are pictures from an ordination to the diaconate of a former Syosset aide. Fr. Bob is pictured leading the man around the altar, and is identified at "Protopresbyter Robert S. Kondratick". What is that saying about a picture being worth a thousand words?
How dare people judge those who ask to remain anonymous? Bishop Tikhon essentially threatened every priest in the Diocese of the Midwest, that they would be disciplined after he had pushed Archbishop Job out and manipulated his man in. (One hopeful sign is that he was thwarted in his plan, and at least some of the other bishops are seeing him as the very disturbed man that he is.)
Protodeacon Wheeler has been made, essentially, a "non-person". And yet the clearly guilty are flaunted before us. (Yes, I know--some will attack that idea of "clearly guilty". But obviously, some, such as Bishop Tikhon, will never accept the truth, no matter how much evidence, how much testimony, is given.) It is as if Syosset ascribes to the "Voldemort" theory: "there is no good or evil, but only power".
A question: Has the Diocese of Alaska left the OCA? I got a mailing today, a solicitation in the form of stamps printed with pictures of Alaskan churches, signed by Bishop Nicholai, and yet the return address on the envelope, and the letterhead, were from the "Russian Orthodox Diocese of Alaska"! Since my impression is that the majority of the people in the diocese are native peoples, and since the name "Russian" was dropped when autocephaly was granted in 1970, my only conclusion is that they must now be under the Moscow Patriarch, or under ROCOR!
#59 Mark (not Stokoe) on 2006-06-28 19:29
A final thought on anonymous posts (as I slip back into oblivion)... they sometimes succeed in directing more attention to the message rather than the messenger.
Hogwash. The substance of anonymous posts is utterly disregarded by any fair-minded reader and the credibility of the site is damaged. All this talk of "judging" is also silly. Condemnation of anonymous posting has nothing to do with judging one's soul or one's standing before God, it is a comment about the way human communication works in the Church in a fallen world-i.e. its an "opinion."
#60 Symeon on 2006-06-29 05:56
I have to jump on board with the anonymous posters. Your observations about Deacon Wheeler prove the point - there is a fear of retribution. Folks - ever hear the word "whistleblower". There are many examples in the New Testament of believers who remained anonymous in fear of their lives. Does that make their lives and actions any less credible?? That may seem to be an extreme example in the present circumstance, but we I am sure we can draw some parallels. I have found many of these anonymous posts very enlightening.
#61 Rich on 2006-06-29 08:27
I also was quite chagrined to see our ex-Chancellor identified in those photos on the OCA site. It made me wonder where we are headed? Photos from the ordination could have been posted without including ones of the ex-Chancellor. Dn. Eric Wheeler being the "invisible" man in the other set of photos is a quite sad contrast. Thank you, Dn. Eric, for your service to the Church!
Lord have mercy on us!
Mark (not Stokoe)'s knowledge and expertise is well demonstrated throughout his comment; however, the last bit, the one about the Alaskan diocese is kind of an exemplary summit of that knowledge and expertise.
The Orthodox Church in America has a Bulgarian Diocese of Toledo that is not under the Bulgarian Patriarch; a Romanian Episcopate that is not under the Romanian Patriarch; an Albanian Archdiocese that is not under Archbishop Anastasios of Tirana.
The legal name of the Alaskan diocese has always included the name "Russian Orthodox." That terminology, if I'm not mistaken (It happens! It happens!), is not only important to the Alaskan Orthodox population because "Russian Orthodox" is the form of the name of the religion that was passed on to them, but it is important in defending the interests of our Alaskan diocese vis-a-vis the treaties and agreements connnected with the act whereby America bought Alaska from the Russians. I believe that one will find this nomenclature throughout history, and it was not changed with or by autocephaly.
Apart from that, the entire sentence beginning "Since my impression..." is a classic of logical pathology!
Why, I wonder, didn't he just say, "I go all to pieces when I hear the word "Russian" before "Orthodox" in anything to do with My Church? U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S.A!
Commending all to Christ's love and will,
+Tikhon, The Bishop of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and the West; The Orthodox Church in America.
"It is hard not to write satire." (Juvenal)
#63 Bishop Tikhon on 2006-06-29 11:49
"How dare people judge those who ask to remain anonymous?"
Mark-not-Stokoe, we judge every day. We judge whether to get out of bed, whether to shower before shaving, whether Certs is a breath mint or a candy mint. Deal with it. If I choose to place less credibility on anonymous posts, why should that ruin your day?
I frankly think that any deacon, priest, bishop of the OCA who posts here has a good-sense right to post without name. Same for their spouses. (Frankly, I wish some Bishops would remain more anonymous.) Everyone else - not so fast! As another said, what is this - Russia? The gulag is not accepting new patients.
#64 Marty Brown on 2006-06-29 20:32
They are probably still OCA with that letterhead. The legal battles that would take place would require yrs of work before that could happen.
#65 Jeff on 2006-06-30 05:47
And what 'retribution' has occurred to Deacon Wheeler that has ruined his life? Has he been 'drummed out' of the diaconate? Is he in an 'Inquisition' prison? Has someone tried to rescind his baptism and chrismation? I think not, indeed, I know not because he served Liturgy with the Metropolitan at the 40th Anniversary of St. Andrew the Apostel parish where is is attached.
On the other hand, let us, in fact, consider what would have happened had Deacon Wheeler chosen to be 'anonymous'! Who would even have listened to anything that he said? It is only because he chose to be forthright and stand for his beliefs that this website and all this interest in the problem exists. If the person who took what is arguably the largest risk in this matter was able to sign his name, what's the problem for everyone else?
This is not contrary to popular opinion, an unimportant issue. It reflects on the moral and ethical understanding by Orthodox Christians of their responsibility to speak plainly even when doing so causes grief. For God's sake! If we cannot speak plainly to *each other*, how in God's name are we going to be sufficiently courageous to witness the Faith to a godless culture of death? Please read the lives of the martyrs, witnesses to Christ and note that they boldly acknowledged their faith and belief even when to do so meant torture, imprisonment and death. If we can't do that much *among our fellow Orthodox*, then it truly is 'a sad day' for the Orthodox Church in America and that fact has nothing to do with missing funds!
#66 Matuska Valerie Protopapas on 2006-06-30 08:00
A Bulgarian, Romanian and Albanian Diocese in the Orthodox Church of America! Shameful! Ridiculous! How about some convoluted rational as to why the Holy Synod allowed this uncanonical situation to develop? They obviously weren't chanting USA, USA, USA( or singing North America the Beautiful) when this happened.
#67 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2006-06-30 08:56
Kenneth R. Tobin, obviously and blatantly, has no sympathy with Saint Tikhon's vision and plans for the Church in America! In fact, having Romanian, Bulgarian, and Albanian dioceses conforms quite well to Saint Tikhon's vision. He saw the foundation for his clearly-expressed idea of ethnic jurisidictions within one Church to be the Syro-Arab Orthodox Mission. which Saint Raphael was consecrated to rule. Besides the Syro-Arab Orthodox, Saint Tikhon also planned and instituted a Serbian Mission, which he proposed to make a vicariate headquartered in Chicago (the Syro-Arab vicariate was in Brooklyn). He thought the Greeks should be organized along the same lines as the Syrians and the Serbs and be headed by their own Bishop. Father Sebastian Dabovich was in charge of the Serbian Mission which, at the time he left the Bay area to form a mission elsewhere, had thirty parishes in it.
I, myself (and I apologize for disagreeing so thoroughly with Kenneth's labelling of this century-old arrangement here in America as"shameful" and "ridiculous") fully agree with Saint Tikhon's vision. He is a model in so many ways: on one Orthodoxy Sunday he made a sarcastic reference to the sort of people (back in Russia, of course) who looked askance at the Litany for the Catechumens. Then, for the 1917 All-Russian Sobor, he was head of the Liturgical Commission which considered that huge grab-bag of "brilliant ideas" submitted by this or that instance before the Sobor, and the only one he was willing to approve for presentation at that Sobor was the New Calendar! (Others today treat the "PRE" conciliary documents as a kind of Torah or Koran.)
Now, as for some "convoluted rationale," for the implementation of Saint Tikhon's plans, and for how the Holy Synod somehow "allowed this uncanonical situation to develop," there's no need for any excusing or apologizing.
I realize that Kenneth would never try to pose as an expert, though, and one looks forward to his growing in knowledge.
Commending all to Christ's love,
+Tikhon, The Bishop of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and the West; The Orthodox Church in America.
"Noise proves nothing. Often a hen after laying an egg will cackle as if she had laid an asteroid!" (Mark Twain)
#68 Bishop Tikhon on 2006-06-30 16:40
What was proposed a century ago was sound and forward looking, but today it's obsolete! Today, ethnic ties to the church serve to detract rather than embrace. Consider converts and mixed marriages. Further, even though some have roots connected to the motherland, those born here are Americans. How do you identify your nationality on a passport application?
#69 Ill With Grief on 2006-07-01 06:52
Perhaps the name of this site should be changed to ocaanews.org
Since it seems to be a site dedicated to Orthodox Christians for Accountability and Anonymity.
The goring of whose ox, etc.
Commending all to Christ's love,
+Tikhon, The Bishop of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and the West, The Orthodox Church in America
"It's hard not to write satire." (Juvenal)
#70 Bishop Tikhon on 2006-07-01 15:53
More food for thought, Gregg.
What if the MC was not continuously provided with accurate and truthful information in the first place?
It still seems quite apparent to me that the former Chancellor not only had TOTAL CONTROL of every aspect of daily OCA life, but also, controlled EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION presented to the MC, including what was not presented. i.e., the purchase of the Martin Drive property.
Although I frimly believe that certain members of our MC should be replaced immediately, I really don't think the total membership can be blamed for too much because I think they were purposely left in the dark in many instances.
#71 Michael Geeza on 2006-07-02 10:24
Thank you for your response to my question even though I reject the vision for the OCA which it suggests.
I leave it to others on this site to rescue St. Tikhon from the charge of advocating ethnic enclaves. However, I feel perfectly capable of articulating a vision for the OCA, which mirrors the views of others far more learned then myself, as a truly American branch of Orthodoxy, encompassing and influenced by other cultural traditions, but not controlled or dominated by them.
We all understand the historical reasons for multiple jurisdictions in North America. But surely the time has now arrived to put aside petty concerns of status and hierachical ambition and fashion a united American Orthodox Church where there is indeed truly "neither Jew nor Greek." (no pun or joke intended!)
In this regard, allowing ethnic dioceses in the OCA merely exacerbates the existing situation. Handing out ethnic diocese to unemployed bishops is a kind of welfare the OCA can not afford with so much of the hierarchy junketing around the world much of the time. If there is a need for addtional geographic dioceses in North America (although the recent "consolidation" of Washington and New York makes this problematic), then perhaps the talents of the unemployed bishops could be utilized or alternately they might want to relocate to their home countries now that it is safe to do so without risking martyrdom.
So what, you may now ask, does this have to do with the current crisis? Everything! At root our crisis is not financial or personal. It is rather a crisis of leadership and a corresponding lack of vision. Furthermore, while our leadership bears special responsibility, we are all guilty for heretofore allowing this situation to fester.
As a first step in addressing this grave crisis, I call upon Your Grace to resign your see and retire to a monastery dedicated to St. Tikhon.
Hopefully, making a joyful noise unto the Lord, I am, yours in Christ,
Kenneth R. Tobin
PS: Happy Fourth of July! USA,USA,USA!
#72 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2006-07-02 13:56
Out of all due respect, I don't know if you are truly grasping the entire nature and depth of suffering when people choose not to stay anonymous and publish their names. From the sounds of what you have written, I don't think you have actually had a truly deep empirical appreciation of how not staying anonymous can cause great suffering, beyond what you label as "grief." Great suffering comes in many shapes and forms and can last for many years after the initial crisis. Being black listed or ostracized even happend to some of our own Orthodox saints who were sent into exile. I am sure history has given us many martyrs to the faith that will remain anonymous to me down here on earth until the day I die, with only God knowing their names.
I would rather that God know their names rather than this pathetic fallen world where sin abouns and is accepted so readily. To the world, many martyrs and saints are just fools and idiots. Better to be known by God anonymously than our fellow man who may really not appreciate our suffering. Our Great Lent tells us of sacrificing to God in unknown and hidden ways for Him. God knew there are untold nameless martrys who died for Him rather than the world know their names. Sometimes some of the lives of saints are revealed to us in the world through God's will. God's will let us know about St. Mary of Egypt and Fr. Arseny. But I am sure, if all names would be known, we would know about more saints. But, this may not be God's will. God knows our hearts above all.
Your postings have pained me because I know first hand how speaking out to hierarchy has caused much pain to my family. Dn. Eric Wheeler lost a job that he never had to lose. I would venture to guess that he then, on some spiritual and empirical level known only to him, had to suffer social, emotional, psychological, and physical suffering as he tried to move on with his life. What he had to do to secure further secular or church employment to feed his family only he knows for now. When one suffers for doing righteous acts or being a whistleblower, only that person will know how much he or she has "gone through" for God himself.
A published name will always, to me, be inconsequential in this life. I only have to look as far as the Holocost and the suffering of millions sent to the death camps under Stalin to know that God knows each and every one of our names. I hardly know a handful of those courageous and suffering spirits who have gone this horrendous path of suffering.
Chosing to remain anonymous due to my conviction that Godd sees and knows all with each and every one of our sufferings in this transitory life.
#73 Patty Schellbach on 2006-07-03 14:45
Gee, I didn't mean for KRT to go all to pieces, for heaven's sake!
THIS is what he wrote:
"A Bulgarian, Romanian and Albanian Diocese in the Orthodox Church of America! Shameful! Ridiculous! How about some convoluted rational as to why the Holy Synod allowed this uncanonical situation to develop?"
Now he almost denies it! Now what was to KRT unheard-of, shameful, and ridiculous is, after learning the facts from me and the answers I gave him to his questions, it seems that, oh, well, the main thing is that Saint Tikhon is outdated. OK. Let's agree that the All-Russian Council of 1917 is outdated and get rid of all these elections diocesan assemblies etc, supported by that old fogey and forget that KRT got bent so out of shape in his lack of knowledge of history and the Church. His main logical (!) point now is to ask for me to resign and go in a monastery. I think he's been reading Archbishop Job's mail.
Yes, it was just an egg, after all, not an asteroid and now he wants to pretend he didn't lay anything!
Oh, I hope the lab hurries up with their work on my brain so I can have it back!
Commending all to Christ's love,
#74 Anonymous on 2006-07-05 23:29
Gentlemen, please! (And you're signing your names, as well, it seems!)
The Church in our particular American jurisdiction is having a crisis. Contrary to what others may believe, I do not see it is an earth-shaking crisis, one of faith and morals, as the Catholics would say (and being an old Catholic, I feel free to use that term). Rather, it is something nasty and sticky and should - like a boil or a rash - be examined and treated to produce relief from the symptoms that this particular 'scandal' has created.
My point all along has been that all of this can be done without or with a minimum of "collateral damage" providing we treat one another with the respect and, yes love that Our Savior has demanded that we do. I admit that droll exchanges and satirical utterances are fun from time to time, but given the number of folks who are upset about this and the depth of their concern ('all is lost!' etc.), I think that we all should be posting with the greatest care and concern for the 'weak' among us.
I'm sure that neither of you gentlemen take very seriously what you have posted and that you do so with considerable good humor, but I beg you to consider St. Paul who, worried about how his actions might affect those weaker in faith than himself, was most circumspect in all that he said and did.
Again, as I have stated since I started to post on this site, how we treat one another and those involved in this matter, may prove to be more detrimental to the Church than any malfeasance or even criminality involving money. The devil is very happy to use any means to create division and discord even when those 'means' are well intentioned and those using them do so in the name of 'the Church'.
#75 Matuska Valerie Protopapas on 2006-07-06 05:52
In addition to Marty's wish about the anonymity of certain Bishops
on this website, one starts wondering how does Bishop Tikhon manags his own Diocese, its affairs and care for the priests and his / their flock, when does his pray, while he is so actively engaged in writing and responding to various postings on this website?
Or is His Grace preparing to write a soap opera when he retires?
May I volunteer him to assist some of his brethren Bishops who need help in managing their own Diocesan affairs? Or, to leave all earthly cares by entering a monastic community and pray for the Church, the Bishops and clergy and the laity?
#76 Anonymous on 2006-07-11 07:38
I really didn't want to comment any on this thread, however, I'm not sure I appreciate anyone ripping on BT for engaging this discussion group.
Many things he has said I don't agree with, but at least he is willing to participate.
The rest of the Synod has stayed away from engaging any of the concerned in this public forum as far as I can tell. This hasn't helped anyone.
We should all be grateful for the participation, regardless of whether we like what is said.
When websites start banning commentary or driving away counterpoint because they don't like it, much is lost.
Thank you Bishop Tikhon for engaging this group and especially thanks for sharing information regarding compilation reports from 2002.
#77 Daniel E. Fall on 2006-07-13 11:09
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