Saturday, August 29. 2009
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During the years that Fr. Brum was at the chancery there were numerous checks written to cash or to specific members of the chancery. Each of these checks was converted to dollars and brought back to the chancery. The SIC report mentions that a significant amount of money was processed through the chancery in this fashion and that much of it disappeared. From what I understand almost every person in the chancery was tapped to go to the bank and do this. It would seem that as a matter of common sense, that this was a bit shady. Clearly not every dollar had to go to Russia. It should have been painfully obvious to everyone that this was a shady practice. Nobody needs hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash unless they are doing something shady. If Fr. Brum did this as well he has absolutely no business even being considered for the episcopacy.
I personally would find it impossible to believe that while almost everyone in the chancery, including staff members not associated with the accounting at the time, were tapped to go and cash these checks and bring back significant amounts of cash to the chancery that this didn't raise the eyebrows of Fr. Brum.
Accomplices, enablers, and just plain stupid friends who go along for the ride when their friends commit crimes like stealing a car or robbing a liquor store go to jail as well. The OCA rid itself of everyone that was associated with this horrible and tragic history. And yet now Fr. Brum, a member of this "inner circle" is being considered as a bishop?
I have nothing against Fr. Brum. I have never met the man. He may have turned his life around and become a saint for all I know. But it is painfully obvious that much like the now deceased Senator Edward Kennedy, who never removed the stain of a night when he disappeared for eight hours after his car was found at the bottom of a tidal channel on Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts and which Mary Jo Kopechny lost her life, Fr. Brum will never lose the stain of his tenure in Syosset, NY. Is this really the best that the OCA can produce as the next bishop of New York and New Jersey?
#1 Anonymous observer in Syosset, NY on 2009-08-29 09:39
As a member of the Diocese of New York and New Jersey for most of my life, and as a delegate to Monday's assembly, the current tenor of the selection process distresses me deeply.
There are all kinds of rights and wrongs to be argued, but my sadness and disappointment are not rooted in these. Rather it is the lost [but maybe not completely lost?] opportunity that disturbs me.
As one of Mark's correspondents quoted in this article points out, the history of this Diocese is complex and difficult. We have flitted in and out of existence as an independent diocese. We have through much of the OCA's history been subsumed as the Metropolitan see and, with no dedicated auxiliary, competed with the entire national church for the attention of our bishop. We were particularly under the influence of the former central administration, even when technically a separate diocese.
The result is that, while we have healthy parishes, we have very little diocesan cohesion or common life. We also have perhaps more than our share of the walking wounded -- those who were swept up in and damaged by the various controversies and conflicts of the past many years.
Within this context, we come to this moment in the life of the Diocese -- the selection of a new bishop who will truly be a bishop for the Diocese.
One would have hoped, I certainly hoped, that this process could become an opportunity for the clergy and faithful of the Diocese to come together -- to consider our needs, acknowledge our challenges, examine the possibilities. This process could be a first step in knitting the Diocese together, building consensus, channeling the energy that's there towards growth and renewal.
But many feel rushed and feel that [whatever their personal merits] we haven't had enough time to really become familiar with these candidates and understand how each would fit with the very particular and very pressing needs of this Diocese.
And, on top of that, a lot of unseemly squabbling has broken out. Yes, we need debate and discussion -- but it must be responsible, calm and constructive.
Perhaps worst of all, the whole debate seems to have degenerated into trying to prove one or another candidate guilty of something, with defenders essentially implying that if someone is not guilty they are, ipso facto, qualified to be Bishop of NY/NJ.
This isn't a question of guilt. Doubts about someone's candidacy are not evidence of a failure to forgive. Rather, we must try to understand the candidates as the men and priests that they are -- understand how their lives have influenced them, and how their talents, personalities, histories, and, yes, failings [we learn from mistakes after all] equip them to address the needs of this Diocese.
I was particularly struck on the audio interviews with the generality of the responses to the last question -- how they see and would address the opportunities and challenges of the Diocese of NY/NJ. Just as we have not been afforded an adequate opportunity to get to know them, they have not been afforded an adequate opportunity to get to know us -- to form a sense in their own hearts and minds of what they would face as diocesan bishop.
So ... because this is too positive an opportunity to let slip by, because some feel alienated and as a Diocese we need consensus and support from everyone, and because there simply has not been enough broad-based reflection on the needs of the diocese and how to meet those needs, I think we should take a deep breath and pause.
Yes, it's frustrating for those who have been deeply engaged in the process. Yes, many may feel ready to make a decision and move on. Yes, it's a pain to bring together an assembly from a geographically dispersed Diocese ... but, in a Diocese where so much has gone wrong over the years, we cannot pass up the opportunity to do this right.
I would say to my fellow delegates that even if you feel ready to move forward with a decision, look around and gauge whether everyone is ready. If a significant minority are concerned and upset, I think we should invest the time and address those concerns. We've lived without a bishop for decades, a couple of months invested in building buy-in and consensus throughout the Diocese seem well worth the delay.
#2 Rebecca Matovic on 2009-08-29 09:59
It's not WHAT you know, but WHO you know in the OCA to get a job - or a committee assignment. Too often we see people that are much more qualified to do things being ignored for those who are somehow connected to the "inner circle". Well, we are getting what we deserve. Fr. Karlgut may be a nice man, but really, what are his qualifications to serve on such a committee, aside from being a seminary graduate? Has he done further work in the area of sexual abuse? Has he done further study in Psychology/pastoral counseling dealing specifically with these issues?
The OCA needs to do a better job in putting knowledgable, QUALIFIED people in positions that influence policy. Time to stop playing at things are really get the jobs done that need to be done!
Editor's note: You misread the article. Fr. Karlgut was not at the meeting. He was being thanked for previous service. According to the Chancellor, he is now longer serving in the office of the sexual misconduct investigations. )
#3 Just a matushka on 2009-08-29 11:44
THE ENTIRE PROCESS SHOULD BE HALTED!
Everyone needs to "STOP" and re-think this. Is there a need for a bishop of NY/NJ? Why are flawed candidates being put forward? Why isn't + Seraphim (Segrist) a shoe-in?
Something is wrong in Denmark!
#4 Anonymous on 2009-08-29 13:05
Well, I listened to the interviews.
I'm probably just being an arrogant New Yorker, but I can't help wondering why New York couldn't have done as well as Pittsburgh, both in terms of the selection process and of the candidates themselves. I know WPA had much more time (more than they would have liked!), but I would have hoped their example of a highly successful search would become the norm for the church as a whole.
That notwithstanding, it is mainly the answers themselves that fail to impress. At the AAC last year, then-Bishop Jonah got up to address some of the same questions these candidates attempted to field. How different his responses were! I'm left with the feeling here of three men who do not really know the diocese well and do not have a clear vision for the church. I know they have leadership experience and are no doubt able and devout in their parish and diocesan work. But they just don't seem large enough of vision for the job they are seeking.
Ours is still not a healthy church. We're like an alcoholic who has finally gotten sober after 20 years of battles and white knuckling. He is still extremely weak, physically and morally exhausted, baffled, and confused. He still feels the compulsion from time to time to return to his old ways. He's knows he's on the right path, but he has to follow tried and true steps every conscious moment if he's to get the goal of genuine sobriety..
We've seen a good example of that path in Western PA. Please God, let us go and do likewise.
#5 Morton on 2009-08-29 16:03
"Accomplices, enablers, and just plain stupid friends who go along for the ride when their friends commit crimes like stealing a car or robbing a liquor store go to jail as well. "
I'm reminded of Dumbledore's speech at the end of Sorcerer's Stone. He singles out Neville Longbottom for praise, and the tie-breaking points in the house cup, because [paraphrasing] "It takes courage to stand up to one's enemies, but even greater courage to stand up to one's friends."
Syosset of old could have used a Neville.
#6 Rebecca Matovic on 2009-08-29 16:21
OCA Statute, Art VI Sec 9: "...it is PREFERABLE that he [the episcopal candidate] have completed a course of study in a graduate school of Orthodox theology."
Wouldn't a preferable candidate be.... well... preferred?Nice "Hail Mary" by the search committee but I don't think it'll be a touchdown.
#7 Just another anon on 2009-08-29 17:24
"hey guys, lets try this. maybe this will shut them up....." pathetic.
#8 Anonymous on 2009-08-29 17:48
SHAME on you for bringing +Sen. Edward Kennedy into this. Shame on you. Once again we are proved to be the most conceited Christians on the planet. Maybe if there was a little more humility in this Church, all around-top to BOTTOM, we would be in this dung heap.
#9 no name on 2009-08-29 18:16
Dear Clergy and Faithful of NY/NJ Diocese,
Caution: We are going to get hit by a bus!
Please postpone the election of the Bishop of NY/NJ! It is embarrassing for us to participate in this "election process."
Listen to Fr. John Shimchick, Deacon Eric Wheeler and John Kozey.
#10 Mariam Vernak on 2009-08-29 18:39
Wait a second: My delegate and I are expected to drive 6 hours with the added expense of a hotel for a meeting that might accomplish nothing??? I agree we have not had a proper opportunity to examine the candidates (although I don't think my mind would be changed by anything else I'd hear). I have to serve Liturgy in the morning with a heavy mind wondering if I should make the trip. Please pray for all of our Assembly participants - we need it!
#11 Fr. Stephen Mack on 2009-08-29 19:30
I think that you also may have misread the article, that is if we're all talking about the one at http://www.oca.org/news/1913.
It says: "Noted were the contributions of previous personnel, including the Very Rev. Alexey Karlgut... This was followed by a discussion of how to improve both the content and effectiveness of the Church's current Policies, Standards, and Procedures on Sexual Misconduct, which represents the sequential accumulation of previous policies. Discussions led to the recognition that a number of specific areas need to be addressed."
It reads like Fr. Karlgut's contributions were noted, perhaps as when Met. JONAH "noted" the service of former +HERMAN and then told him that he could no longer wear the white hat.
After his service was noted discussion ensued about the problems of "content and effectiveness" of the old policy, and how to fix those problems.
It sounds to me like a polite and diplomatic way of refraining from directly casting blame for a job poorly done.
#12 Anonymous on 2009-08-29 19:58
As for Fr. Alexey Karlgut's qualifications, it appears that the search committee was comprised of the three deans and the chancellor and the deans are elected to that post by their peers within each deanery.
#13 Terry C. Peet on 2009-08-29 20:46
You must be new to this blog. As been noted many times, +Seraphim was among the top candidates for the post, but people on the search committee had the colossal gall to ask if he would accept the job if elected. Guess what? He doesn't want to be a diocesan bishop. Who would these days?
#14 Terry C. Peet on 2009-08-29 20:53
What have we learn over the last few weeks?
We have learn that the RSK scandal, because it was committed by a "network" of individuals is proving to be "insidious". And it will not go away until it is fully dealt with.
Electing a new metropolitan, although a hopeful first step, it is by no means a cure for the cancer that is *fester*ing in the OCA.
Given the temerity of Brum, the intellectual dishonesty of Benajmin and their lust of power, their shameless maneuvering and revolting decisions are threatening the OCA in general and the Diocese of NY/NJ in particular. With the clan shameless coveting positions in the OCA, the legal liabilities of the OCA have not diminish but are increasing at an alarming rate.
What can be done? Four things...
I It is time to "reconvene" the SIC. The SIC should follow to its logical conclusion the investigation and in particular focus on the role played by the likes of Fester and Brum into the OCA scandal. Under bishop's mandate these two (and anyone else involved) need to fully comply and assist with the investigation or face suspension and deposition for disobeying the Church. To this end the SIC must have *a new and impartial chairman*. Benjamin's has openly disqualified himself with his indiscretions and lack of ethics/morals, which is now plain for everyone to see. The appointment of the bishop chairman is important as a canonical authority because it is under his authority that the priests investigated must comply or risk been deposed. At the end recommendations need to be made to the Holy Synod and they need to seriously consider if any other clergy involved should join the deposed ranks with RSK. Fairness is important, and if Brum and Fester are found enablers or participants it is not fair to deposed Bob and let these two get away with it. Indeed, if they were involved they must be deposed!
II An ecclesiastical trial must be call against Nicolai(Soraich) and he must be deposed.
III RSK needs to be removed from Venice and the deposition needs to be properly enforced.
IV New regulations regarding conduct must be drafted to spell out misconduct not to be tolerated not only from clergy but specially from bishops. For instance, a decision should be made regarding felonies and misdemeanors and scandalous behavior of hierarchs. In particular Benjamin's conduct should not be tolerated. At a minimum he should be made to retire as he is detrimental and a bad example for incoming bishops. Let raise the bar. We can do way better than that!
If the new metropolitan wants the OCA to get healthy, the issues must be address. Otherwise he has only himself to blame for seeing to it that this is the end of the OCA. As trust and support continues to erode because of the ongoing circus.
A grass root movements within the OCA could bring these steps to reality. Helpful if the current administration lacks the guts and needs a little push.
Enough games and corruption, lets clean house!
#15 Peritus Canonicus on 2009-08-29 21:05
When scandals happen and are exposed, there are two reactions among the guilty: either they are sorry for what they did, or they are sorry they got caught. There's a big different between the two.
While the last scandals were being exposed, there were those who thought wrongdoing needed to be stopped, and those who seemed to think it needed to continue.
I feel sorry for our Metropolitan. He is a gentle man surrounded by the tough old guard -- the entrenched clergy/lay old boy network that was furious that wrongdoing was being exposed. They had knowingly but silently watched our leaders fleece the flock for years. Some thought it was funny. Some encouraged it. Some just retreated.
Much of the Search Committee is of this ilk. Some sat in silence so near to the former Metropolitan as he manipulated assembly after assembly for his own good. Some wanted to laud him. Others marginalized and mocked dissenters. The vocal ones issued some of the most vile, threatening defenses of evil in the history of scandal.
There was one agenda that dominated Church life: the keeping of embarrassing or career-threatening secrets. Know it or not, this is what the whole Church was dedicated to or tolerating, and may still be.
Now comes the O'Bama-like rush to major action with minor preparation. (Has anyone noticed that, starting in November 08, the similarities between the OCA and U.S. politics have been unmistakable?)
Now, the enablers present a suspicious nomination, in keeping with similar elevations in other places. Does someone want to make Mr. Kondratick a Father again, just to settle that mess without resolution, restitution or prosecution? Does someone want to prevent necessary audits in New York, the hotbed of Syosset-gate? Or do you just want to avoid appearing like idiots for allowing scandals to proliferate?
Whatever is the case, something smells! Just on the basis of past performance, I believe that quoting +Benjamin but muzzling the other four was done on purpose. Why do this unless the stakes are high? Why the rush, the withheld names, the reimergence of Fr. Karlgut as chief insulter?
So let me suggest that the vote be postponed, but that's not all. For trying to mislead the Church, and for the sake of fresh air and new blood, the existing Search Committee needs to be dismissed and replaced by vote of Monday's most important Assembly. This will make it a truly extraordinary and much-needed break with the sordid past and a huge step toward a better future!
#16 Anonymous on 2009-08-29 23:58
"He is reported to prefer that the decision to take a step back and re-examine the process, or to proceed, as the Committee desires, be made after clergy and laity speak together on Monday in Clifton. The decision would then be made by the clergy and delegates representing the Diocese as a whole, in conciliar fashion, rather than by just the Committee or himself."
I'm not wise but once in a while I recognize wisdom. There it is.
#17 Matt Karnes on 2009-08-30 02:53
You forgot # V. RSK needs to go to jail.
#18 Michael Geeza on 2009-08-30 14:09
History is filled with examples of good men who did not want to be bishops. And they very often became excellent bishops, precisely because of their humility. (St. Nicholas the Wonderworker comes to mind.) If the Assembly were to elect Bishop Seraphim Sigrist, it would be a momentous event, one which I doubt Bishop Seraphim could deny.
#19 Anonymous on 2009-08-30 15:45
"Guess what? He doesn't want to be a diocesan bishop. Who would these days?"
Well, he is obviously the right man for the job!
#20 Anonymous on 2009-08-30 17:34
"OCA Statute, Art VI Sec 9: "...it is PREFERABLE that he [the episcopal candidate] have completed a course of study in a graduate school of Orthodox theology."
Let's look at those bishops with little or sub-standard Orthodox theological education:
---+ Tikhon (retired) a disaster and unstable.
---+ Innocent (Gula) of Alaska; disaster.
---+ Nicolai of Alaska; disaster
Note: Brum has no Orthodox theological education. Dahulich studied where Gula & Nicolai studied.
#21 Anonymous on 2009-08-30 17:49
I agree with Peritus Canonicus and Michael Geeza.Lets get on with it. As for Met. Jonah...well?
#22 Anon on 2009-08-31 12:15
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