Thursday, August 3. 2006
What is the answer people? Is a reinvigorated Metropolitan Council the way forward given the silence of Syosset?
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Dear Fellow Orthodox Christians and Bishops, The unanswered questions raised by Dr. Skordinski and the non-responsive replies from the treasurer of the OCA reveal that the financial crisis is alienating and will continue to alienate people of unquestioned committment to the Church. Unless the Metropolitan and his staff recognize this, and take steps to correct it, it seems inevitable that an ongoing and profound loss of trust in our hierarchy will lead to diminished financial contributions and ultimately, to bankruptcy of the OCA. Is it legally possible to reorganize as a Church, to begin anew? If not, and despite the public image provided by the OCA website, it looks like the 'Titanic' will sink. Alice Carter, Member, Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral, Boston.
#1 Alice Carter on 2006-08-03 10:03
Why don't you state that both (Phd.) Drs. Skordinski and Woog are both personal friends and allies of Father Robert Kondratick and both of them have been fiercely defending him from the infancy stages of this scandal.
It appears they have their own agenda's and are specifically trying everything possible to have the $250,000 paid back to the Kondraticks.
I'd like to ask each of these ladies, why should the OCA pay back ANY money to the Kondratick's while the investigation isn't complete and when Fr. Bob was receiving a housing allowance (somewhere around $20,000 per year I recall) for a significant number of years while living in a church owned home for which he wasn't paying ANY rent??
In addition, who do they think they are demanding information from the law and accounting firms? These firms are NOT obligated to tell "them" anything.
What words do they NOT UNDERSTAND in the phrase, "The investigation is ongoing and nothing can be said at this time."
There is something very wrong with this intrusive behavior and from what I've heard through the grapevine, both of these women have been nothing but a thorn in the side of the Metropolitan, Fr. Kucynda and the MC ever since this scandal broke.
If they can't accept the fact that the former chancellor was dismissed, don't like the way things are being handled and have NO patience for the truth to be told, then ladies, RESIGN from the MC immediately and stop complaining about ever single issue. You requested your fellow MC members vote NO on the loan. In case they haven't heard, the majority voted YES.
Get on with doing God's work and give it up to Him.
#2 Michael Geeza on 2006-08-03 11:54
You know Mike, your comments are off the wall. I read these emails and I am appalled by the actions of the hierarchy in not complying with the Statutes of the OCA. This is the classic rope-a-dope routine - I have had enough of Syosset - not another dollar from me! You have to be a fool not to see the obstructionism, obfuscation, secrecy and manipulation in full swing as the Metropolitan appears to be concealing serious illegalities at the highest level. The operation of the Central Administration is a complete sham. It is time for the Metropolitan and his entire tyrannical administration to resign. I will have nothing more to say. Our Church has become a disgrace to all right believing Orthodox Christians. If our dear leadership doesn't get this straight soon, I will be looking elsewhere to worship Jesus Christ. And oh, by the way Your Grace Bishop Tikhon, where is THE LORD IN ALL OF THIS AND THE GOSPEL. All the rhetoric and platitudes will not save the souls of those arrogant and prideful hierarchs who treat the faithful like dumb ignoramuses. And ye shall know them by their fruits!
#3 Rich on 2006-08-03 12:21
"Shoot the messenger" will work for a time. The tactic is used so often precisely beacuse it is so often successful. But..... why not simply respond to the questions raised by Dr. Skordinski? If there's nothing to hide, why hide.........?
#4 Robert Allen on 2006-08-03 13:07
If the church goes bankrupt, will it allow all the deep secrets to be buried forever?
Could it be considered a way out of things for the perpetrators?
#5 Withheld on 2006-08-03 13:50
Dear Dr. Skordinski,
Thank you for allowing OCA News to share with all of us your correspondence with the MC, and the Metropolitan and Fr. Kucynda. As I was reading this fairly long account of your experience during the last few months, I was thinking “I’m sure there’s a resignation at the end of this!” But, I was very happy to see that you did not resign and I sure hope that you don’t reach that point, as I’m sure you know that things aren’t likely to get better any time soon! We need you and people like you in the MC and I think you need to keep asking your questions and not let up until there are real answers given!
And…what on earth does Mr. Geeza mean by… “who do they think they are demanding information from the law and accounting firms? These firms are NOT obligated to tell "them" anything?””
“They” are members of the Metropolitan Council, that’s who they are! And if the law firms were hired to represent “the Church” and if, as Fr. Ted Bobosh (also a member of the MC) explained for us…The Metropolitan Council according to the Statutes, “establishes the budget for the operations of the Church and examines all financial reports of the Church” and “initiates, prosecutes, and defends all legal matters affecting the interest of the Church.”…then why wouldn’t “they” and all of the MC members DEMAND to see the information from the law firms and accounting firms? Sometimes when I read some of these comments, I feel like I’m in the Twilight Zone!
Keep up the good work Mark and may the Lord bless you and Dr. Faith and all those that are working for and representing all of us to save OUR Church…CHRIST’S Church!! AMEN!
(I encourage all of you out there that have been reading all these postings, but saying nothing, to please voice your concerns and especially your support of those individuals working so hard and fighting this very tough battle to save the OCA!)
(Holy Resurrection OCA parish, Palatine, IL)
#6 Helen O'Sullivan on 2006-08-03 14:13
And you my friend have to be a fool to think the Church will tip their hand to the other side by making statements BEFORE this very detailed investigation is completed.
The Synod met on several occassions and chose to do NOTHING!!!
Now that the Metropolitan and the acting Treasurer are trying their best 24/7 to solve a tremendous problem that was year's in the making, every single attempt is lambasted in print by those who willfully choose to with hold funds from the Church during her greatest time of need.
Don't you see, there are certain people out there who are trying to manipulate everything to their own agenda by insisting that the Statute has not been followed correctly, etc, etc. when their ultimate goal is to make sure the Kondratick's receive their money.
Unfortunately, too many of our faithful are too blind, ignorant and stupid to see right through this charade.
Please forgive my harsh words.
#7 Michael Geeza on 2006-08-03 14:17
You know, it occurs to me that there's a simple way for the MC to gain control of this situation, according to their responsibilities and their authority, as denoted in the OCA Statutes: Assert their authority.
1. Contact all parties whom the Metropolitan has hired or engaged. Send them a copy of the pertinent OCA statute. And tell the parties (law firms, accounting firms, banks, etc.) that their hiring has not been approved by the MC, and that all future transactions and findings will be routed, first and exclusively, through the Metropolitan Council. Finally, tell them that if they fail to follow procedure, their claims will not even be reviewed. Of those reviewed, some obligations undertaken beyond the Metropolitan's authority will be paid by the OCA, and some will not.
2. Inform the Metropolitan, Chancellor, Treasurer, etc., that all business will be routed through them, first and exclusively. If any of them continue their unilateral hirings/contracting, etc., those individuals will be personally liable for paying the bills.
3. If the Metropolitan and the Syosset staff will not abide by these canonically-authorized actions by the MC, the MC should sue under canon law--and perhaps under civil law.
4. If the Metropolitan Council will not do these things--or take some other similarly effective action--the individual members of the OCA should file suit under canon law, as well as file a class-action lawsuit for breach of fiduciary duty.
Someone has to insist on the enforcement of the OCA statutes, if not the Metropolitan Council, then the faithful themselves.
#8 Gregory Grant on 2006-08-03 14:42
"Who do [Drs. Skordinsky and Woog] think they are demanding information from the law and accounting firms," you ask? I'm pretty sure they think that they are members of the Metropolitan Council. In this regard, they are correct.
The MC, since you seem to have forgotten, "Initiates, prosecutes, and defends all legal matters affecting the interest of the Church" according to the Statute of the Orthodox Church in America.
Therefore, requesting information that others within the OCA possess regarding the law firm's investigation seems well within their rights. They also have the right to ask about other matters that are explicitly delegated to the MC in the Statute (e.g. liability, other committees that may or may not be appropriating MC authority [Best Practices], the budget). And it seems to me that every person has the right to contest being incorrectly quoted......
Furthermore, your attack on their motivations (alleging that they are Kondratick loyalists) implies that you recognize the irrationality of Fr. Kucynda's stonewalling and are therefore attempting to change the subject. Whatever their motivation, the questions in Dr. Skordinsky's emails deserve to be answered.
I'm interested: which of her questions do you specifically find unreasonable?
Finally, do you sincerely believe that a good strategy for an oppressed minority is to resign and give up, as you suggest Dr. Skordinski should? Should Athanasius have yielded to the Arian masses at the First Ecumenical Council and resigned?
I look forward to your response, but will not be surprised if you emulate your hero Fr. Kucynda and ignore me.
#9 Zach Borichevsky on 2006-08-03 15:01
The response "The investigation is ongoing and nothing can be said at this time" is complete and utter nonsense. It is the MC's prerogative whether to retain a law firm. Even if the Metropolitan had this authority (and he does not) at the very minimum the MC would be entitled to know the scope of work of the law firm's asignment. If the MC does not even know what the law firm is doing, the wool has been pulled over their eyes. If the administration is not providing relevant information to the MC, if the administration is telling the MC that all the relevant documents are missing, what makes anyone think they will provide anything meaningful to Proskauer Rose?
The Proskauer Rose report will be an expensive farce that will have a few general recommendations but will reveal nothing.
#10 Robert Vasilios Wachter on 2006-08-03 16:03
I don't know anything about the friendship between Fr. Bob and Drs. Skordinski and Woog. But I do know that when I sent an email to Faith Skordinski that was very hard on Fr. Bob and called for him to be forced to repay money to the OCA, she made sure the whole Metropolitan Council received the email.
Of course, I have no idea whether or not Fr. Bob owes money to the OCA. And I have since tempered my tone. It seems to me that there is a demon whispering in my ear all the time saying, "You are better that those thieves in the chancery. You're smarter than the Holy Synod. You're braver than the Metropolitan Council." The challenge for me is to remember that I am a great sinner, and that if I had a reputation to protect, or management of millions of dollars as my responsibility I would screw up just as badly as the people who have put the OCA in this situation.
#11 Matt Karnes on 2006-08-03 17:57
Wow! Michael, you are out of bounds. For the MC to not have a cash flow or income statement for several years! That is appalling. For the Synod to know be sure if they got them is equally appalling.
To date, I have been a fierce defender of the Metropolitan. Today, I have some advice for him.
I also understand the predicament Fr. Kucynda feels he is in reporting suspicious financial information before audits. One difficult thing for any accountant is bad information, misinformation, etc. But as an accountant, I can tell you accountants are required to report what they know, not failing to report for what they don't doesn't make an accountant.
The administration is flat, dead wrong withholding even bad financial statements.
Interim financial statements such as the ones requested by Skordinski are required and needed for decision making. They can be wrong, which is often considered a measure of competancy, and it is likely the financial information Fr. Kucynda has isn't great.
Michael, erase the people from the equation. Take away the names and replace all of the names, with Servant of God.
I believe Faith Skordinski's requests might overreach, but not when she asks for financial reports. That is an underreach. A gross underreach.
I don't care what her name is, or the fired guy, or the leadership. Get to the objective. Get to financial reporting against budgets and hold gross excesses accountable.
If Fr. Paul doesn't comply with the reasonable request for compiled, unaudited financial statements, the MC should request his resignation.
If the Metropolitan is lording over Fr. Paul and not allowing unaudited financial reporting, he needs to be held accountable by all. If Proskauer Rose has advised against it, they owe the MC a report.
If the financial statements are grossly in error to the point he cannot provide them, this is owed to the MC by Fr. Paul.
I want quarterly financial statement reporting by the OCA. I firmly believe this action, combined with rethinking the way the church governs itself (a bit), will never allow this to happen again.
If a charitable trust were established, I believe a condition of paying the charitable trust could be financial statement reporting quarterly to the laity, and a repair to the governance problems that led to the crisis.
Does anyone know whether this can actually be done? Could a small group of OCA faithful establish a revocable charitable trust, held by an established trustee, with certain conditions to be met for disbursement to the OCA?
#12 Daniel E. Fall on 2006-08-03 18:11
We must face the fact that this a battle of wills. The "old guard" with its unique brand of byzantine ethics, privelege and status is battling the egalitarian modern world (in their minds). No amount of logical argument is going to convince life-long autocrats of the error of their ways.
Those that have been the beneficiary of these priveleges and payouts for several decades have known all that time about the secret accounts. Do you expect them to repent suddenly and mend their ways? Not likely. Instead, they are choosing to do battle. What choice do they have? Their knowledge of the shenanigans, if revealed, implicates them to. For them the choice is simple: obfuscate vigorously. The louder and more forceful, the better.
The force of obfuscation must be met with a greater force: determination and truth.
#13 Name withheld on 2006-08-03 20:06
How can the very people who were in power while this situation was "in the making" be working now "24/7" to solve what they themselves created? Think about who the treasurer was...... Think about who the chief enforcer was.....
My family is not withholding money from the church but we choose not to send special appeal funds to Syosset...we choose to send funds directly to those in need. The way we see it.....multiply your assessment charge times the number of "members" you have and bingo...you have your budget. Since so much has been misused, I think it safe to say special appeals being sent to Syosset for distribution are a thing of the past until a new administration is formed and trust restored.
We can choose to nit pick and belabor statutes and who did what to whom but in the end we need to stop the stonewalling and silence from the very ones who have deceived us.
Perhaps we need to picket and march on Syosset.......
Name withheld by request........
#14 Name withheld on 2006-08-03 21:26
I agree with you in thanking Faith Skordinski for trying to get the financial information needed before any vote on a loan should be considered. It only makes common sense.
1)How can anyone get a loan from a bank without the basic information of cash flow that Dr. Skordinski requested and did not receive? If the bank has the information, why not the MC?
2)Dr. Skordinski is right on target to ask to have the
statement of the Metropolitan Council be removed from the OCA web site if it was not an approved statement
of this MC Council. This is certainly a different picture.
3) Dr. Skordinski is very right to seek answers to the questions she asked, and repeat her requests when the questions are not answered in the direct manner she asked them.
4) It is illuminating to hear a team of Best Practice experts could be allowed to be put together by the Metropolitan when it is the Metropolitan Council's job to oversee the finances .. and after all you call them together, but they are not part of this decision?
5) All too familar with the mistreatment of women,
Mr. Geeza's remark to Faith is more than unkind, but
of the crony..ism's that were spoken of from the start on this website as an area sadly in need to be healed and changed.
#15 Matushka Carol on 2006-08-03 22:03
Yes, Gregory Grant's recommendations are exactly the steps the MC needs to take ASAP (and probably ought to have taken long before now). All entities with which the OCA has entered into contractual agreements should be contacted directly by the MC and informed that it is the MC and not any other individual or body within the OCA that has the power to enter into these agreements on behalf of the OCA. As such, it is the MC that should receive all reports and investigation results, and it is the MC that will review and approve payment of bills, loans, etc. As Mr. Grant suggested, the MC letters to these entities should include copies of our OCA Statutes.
This would not be "playing hardball" or interfering with progress that may or may not be being made. This would simply be a move to get the OCA on the proper legal footing. I can't imagine any one of these entities wanting to proceed unless and until they know they are dealing with the OCA body legally authorized to make and fulfill financial obligations on the part of the OCA. This is so basic. If these firms learn that the payment of their bills may be in dispute for months (or longer), they will certainly take a very active interest in getting these questions of hiring and reporting authority properly resolved. The MC really must take this step!
On another note, and after all of this time and discussion, I am somewhat frustrated that we still don’t seem to have solid answers to some very basic questions: Does the OCA hold the title to the Syosset property free and clear (i.e., could we sell it and lift this entire, oppressive debt from ourselves at some point in time—whether or not we go forward with the loan now)? If we don’t yet have an answer to this question, when will it be forthcoming, and from whom? In addition, it would be helpful to know where we stand with the $1.7 million loan itself as of today (August 4). Has the loan actually been closed? If not, when will it be closed, and what are the next steps to its being closed? If the loan has not yet closed, is there still a possibility of the MC rethinking this issue and taking another vote on it?
I would appreciate hearing back from anyone who has definitive answers to these questions—and having the answers posted in this comments section of OCANews for others to see as well.
Thank you to Faith Skordinski, Mark Stokoe and others for your labors on behalf of the OCA. Reading the article yesterday made me feel more hopeful about the future of the OCA than I have felt in weeks. The OCA has the tools and methods of decision-making in place—we simply need to submit to them. All talk of revising the Statutes should cease until this crisis is resolved. We must proceed under the Statutes now in place. In the vernacular, this would be called “bowing to the rule of law.” So the question is: Are we in the OCA—from our Hierarchs on down—civilized enough to be governed by our own Statutes? God is certainly not the author of chaos and confusion!
“…Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” (I Peter 5:5-7)
St. Mark Orthodox Church
#16 Cathy Tatusko on 2006-08-04 05:52
How come Dr. Faith is the ONLY member of the MC who has written anything about this?
Has she been appointed as THE spokesperson for the entire group?
I haven't seen one post or letter from ANY other member of this prestigious body expressing their concerns.
I'm telling you, there is a hidden agenda here and it's being disguised as concern for allegedly not following proper protocol and concern for the Church not following through on the loan.
#17 Michael Geeza on 2006-08-04 06:10
To answer one of Mr. Geeza's questions: we do not know if Dr. Skordinski is the only one on the MC raising these questions. It was simply her emails that were sent to me on this issue. I would be happy to publish those from others if they moved the topic forward as well.
#18 Editor on 2006-08-04 06:59
If your going to go through the pain of trying to create a "private trust"...to disburse money to a group you do not "trust" today...would it be easier for the parish just to vote to break from the OCA and affiliate with lets say the Greek, Antiochan or ROCOR??
I would not give one dime as an OCA member until the monies taken from the charities (that were taken without permission) are restored...and not by loan proceed. Sales of personal assets, or them taking second jobs and repaying thier debt.
#19 Bob H. on 2006-08-04 09:16
I have just finished reading Fr. Johnson's well intentioned reflection, which I think warrants a response.
Our first priority in dealing with the current crisis must be to tell the truth! I have no interest in a legal report that is designed to protect indidviduals and institutions from their nefarious activities. Should not a bishop be prepared to lay down his very life for the sake of his flock? Jail, resignation, or disgrace are certainly lesser penalties that should be willingly embraced when Our Lord himself requires us to bear witness to the truth. Does anyone dare challenge this mandate?
We can argue, and even disagree, over the proper means of presenting a report on all that has happened, but anything short of a full and accurate description of the salient facts to the entire Church is unacceptable--indeed it is contemptible! I assume Fr. Johnson agrees.
The OCA can not get on with its important mission until this boil is lanced, so until then all other "reforms", personnel changes or additions are irrelevant no matter how desirable.
#20 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2006-08-04 09:40
Thank you Father Johnson for a clear and cogent prescription. To use another analogy, it is written to the crew members who are trying to put out a fire in the boiler room to keep the ship from sinking. They have been ignoring all the reports/questions from the deck of the ship, the confusion about whether or not to put on life vests or to launch the lifeboats. The biggest problem of all is to get their attention, to let them know that if they don't listen, and even if they put out the fire, they may find the ship deserted when they come back on deck. They need to understand that what is going on topside is as important as their work in the boiler room. Who will they listen to? That is the question. Anyone have any answers?
#21 Alice Carter on 2006-08-04 10:35
I'd like to address an item here since I've received much flack from my earlier post, and that's fine.
Many members attended the recent MC meeting in Syosset.
According to the public report released with regard to this meeting, NO MENTION has ever been made by ANYONE, clergy or layperson, who attended that meeting with regard to the oral report given by the accounting firm as it related to financial improprieties going on within the previous administration.
WHY IS THAT?
People will complain about everything under the sun, try to sabatoge any means of a solution and ask for the Metropolitan to resign and take the treasurer with him, but why doesn't ANYONE ever say what really went on during that meeting?
People will demand information, they will write letters, they will make unsolicited phone calls to various firms demanding information and transparency, but they themselves are UNWILLING to be transparent, provide information and be honest with the rest of us.
So, I respectfully ask that someone, ANYONE who attended that recent MC meeting, please tell us exactly what was said during the oral report given by the accounting firm. Was the information given damaging or did it exhonerate those who've been suspected?
If we are going to disagree, let's be fair and see to it that we're all on the same playing field. One side keeps asking numerous questions.
Now let's see if anyone has the guts to step up to the plate and answer my question.
Keep up the good posts Daniel.
#22 Michael Geeza on 2006-08-04 10:54
This is baffling. You're continuing to attack the messengers instead of addressing their questions at all. Who cares if Dr. Skordinsky is the only one emailing? Who cares if she has a hidden agenda?
My questions are:
1. Why are her questions not entitled to responses?
2. How could answering her questions possibly hinder the investigation?
#23 Zach Borichevsky on 2006-08-04 11:04
In response to Fr. George Johnson's Reflection, I applaud much of it. However, there are several things in it with which I firmly disagree.
Firstly, his illustration of Romanian money collected to help Armenians but diverted to help Hungarians is flawed at the core (not in the details, mind, but in its core principle ). The money collected to help hurricane and terrorist victims was not diverted to help hurricane and terrorist victims in other countires. It was diverted for basic operating functions, for internation travel by entourages of the OCA, and for shoulder-rubbing between dignitaries (to say nothing of personal trips to Las Vegas by well-connected realtives) -- in other words, a failure to live within one's means. This diversion is a terrible sin, and one that is not to be overlooked simply because the guilty parties are now promising "Best Practices".
Secondly, Fr. George's solutions lack one essential matter. The apology, confession, and resignation and/or deposition of those guilty of these contemptable diversions. Fr. George rightly recognizes that Syosset must work towards healing not only the reality it destroyed, but the untrustworthy perception it has created.
And this has nothing to do with personalities, or even my own personal preference (believe me again, there is more pain here that most would believe). Nevertheless, does anyone really believe that the OCA, divided as it currently is, can be unified under the headship of Metropolitan Herman? Whether all of the accusations are true or not, enough of them are. And whether supporters, detractors, or those in the middle want it or not, I can't believe any right-thinking person honestly believes that the Church can be reunited while Metropolitan Herman retains office. It is wishful but naive thinking at best.
Systematic moral crimes against the world's most vulnerable people were either committed or approved by the very people ordained to defend them. These people cannot retain office and expect that a rational flock will remain united. Apologies and resignations have to be part of the solution.
With deepest sorrow,
#24 Priest Christopher Wojcik on 2006-08-04 11:45
With all due respect Matushka Carol, my comments have absolutely NOTHING to do with crony . . .ism and are not intended to be demeaning to woman in any way.
I have a mind of my own and unlike many people, I'm defending the Church on this issue.
Like you, I've unfortunately been keeping abreast of this most disgusting situation since it's infancy stages and I'm getting a bit tired of people who do nothing but complain, gripe, try to stonewall possible solutions to the problem and create all sorts of havoc by their actions.
The fact of the matter remains that Dr. Sikorski had every single opportunity to voice her concerns PRIOR to the MC meeting and PRIOR to the vote on the loan.
The loan vote passed.
In addition, why hasn't any mention of questionable financial reporting ever been raised by MC members prior to this scandal?
Surely they've had ample opportunities in the past.
Why is she coming forward with this information now, after the meeting and after the vote?
On another note, if she truly wants full transparency, why doesn't she feel compelled to tell us what was said during the oral report given by the accounting firm at the last MC meeting?
Does this not seem to be a bit strange?
She has asked numerous questions and wants some answers, and that's fine. But it can't always be one sided Matushka.
People want transparency?, Lets start with telling EVERYONE what was said in that oral report.
I'm sure the answers would be very telling!
I have never met Dr. Sikorski nor do I have any personal ill feelings towards her, but I'm tired and frustrated that instead of coming together as a team, the MC and some of it's members are now divided and are doing nothing but bickering rather than constructive work to try and solve these problems.
#25 Michael Geeza on 2006-08-04 12:52
How does a parish exactly go shopping for a church body to affiliate itself with? Does the priest just come in one Sunday morning and say "So the OCA is full of liars and thieves that take the donations destined for the people in need and go to party in Las Vegas with it. Now, who wants to go to ROCOR? How about Antiochians or Greeks? Do we like pierogies, falafel, or feta cheese, let's see a show of hands!" I am exaggerating obviously, but is running away the best we can do...?
Our Church is our Mother, literally and figuratively. When we need help she is there for us, she helps us stay in communion with God, when we are sick spiritually and physically, she is there to nurture us back to health. Do we abandon our own mother when she is sick and find another one, or do we stay with her, take care of her and help her get better?
I have been following the scandal for a while and it is clear that something very wrong is happening in the OCA. Just stepping back and reading between the lines all I see is hatred, greed, malice, anger, half-truths and lies, personal attacks, and of course a great deal of frustration and despair. What happened to love, peace and, of course, humility? How did God's church come to this? During the two millennia, the Church has been persecuted often, but it survived, but what is happening now is different. It looks like some kind of a perverted self-mutilation: destroying itself from the inside. Its own hierarchs, the very people who are trusted and respected, the spiritual descendants of the Apostles, the Shepherds of God's flock are behaving like wolves and liars, ravaging their own flock.
The monetary and legal problems, I believe, will probably be solved eventually, but nobody seems to be worried about the long term spiritual and emotional effects of this whole ordeal, everyone wants to count the missing millions and talk about which attorneys are better; they are worried about "personal liability" and so on. In the meantime people are asking themselves "do we like pierogies or do we like feta cheese, because it is time to 'move on' to another church." Pretty soon from the whole OCA only the Syosset office will remain with the "Metropolitan of all Nassau County and all Long Island" presiding.
I am not saying that things should not be discussed and that somehow this site is a bad thing. Quite the opposite, For once, I can say "Thank God for the Internet!" According to the modus operandi of the present hierarchy, had it not been for OCANews everything would have been swept under the carpet, just like it was done "back in the old country." The infection would have just been pushed deeper into the Church's body. Well it is time to lance the sore let it all out. But let us do it with care and thoughtfulness like a doctor would do it, with intent not to hurt but to heal , and most of all let us not abandoning our Mother when she needs us most.
#26 N.J. on 2006-08-04 13:51
I don't know what led you to believe that Dr. Skordinski's "personal friendship" with Fr. Bob causes her to have a "hidden agenda". First of all, what makes you think she doesn't also have a "personal friendship" with +Herman? Has it occurred to you that she may have very painfully come to realize some hard truths about the National Church Administration, including Fr. Bob, and is taking the only course of action she sees open to her as a member of the MC? What good would it do for her to address her requests to Fr. Bob? None. Have you seen one word from her in support of Fr. Bob? You have not. I know that for a fact. Please don't jump to conclusions.
St. Mark, Bethesda, MD
#27 Linda Weir on 2006-08-04 13:54
Kenneth Tobin's presumably well-intentioned response to my Reflection did a useful job of illustrating one of the several problematic situations which I briefly discussed.
Additionally, one can only hope that he and others will manage to remember some of the opening words -- such as "... it is very possible that not every single aspect of every problem will be discussed thoroughly (here)...", but then also that "... we continue first to address the fundamental question “Are the allegations true ?” .... and then seek to see Church life returned to “normalcy” in terms of focus on its calling from God...".
#28 Fr. George Johnson on 2006-08-04 13:56
PR is not working for the whole Church, as we are led to believe. This whole thing of, let's just wait for the PR's report, then everything will be clear, is just dust in the eyes. Actually it was probably the advice they got from PR, it is a common tactic. A way to deal outcomes of nasty situations like these is to delay it as long as possible and release small bits and pieces of information here and there. Eventually people forget, some get tired, others move to other churches, others stop believing in God and stop caring altogether. Next thing you know nobody will want do press any charges and do anything about it. And that's it - the perfect outcome, a win-win situation for PR (who over all this time made an enourmous ammount of money) and for the perpertrators because they don't get prosecuted.
So it seems PR are just protecting those who misappropriated the funds, otherwise, as written in one of the reflections, why would 'they' go to a firm that specializes in "damage control" resulting from embezzlement and misappropriation of funds. Why not let some competent OCA members do it. God knows, there are respectable professional accountants among the OCA members who handle larger sums of money everyday in the workplace than OCA sees in the whole year, why not ask those people with the attitude of "hey, I think we screwed up, we need help!" They would love to help, I am sure, some will even do it for free as a service to the church! But what do they do instead -- they pay $500+/hour of our money to cover their own tracks. It's a double theft if you ask me. Add the loan on top of it, and their intentions and motives don't need much explanation. ..
#29 Alex K. on 2006-08-04 14:20
Thank you, Dr. Skordinski, for speaking out, seeking the truth, and persevering in a most difficult situation. I hear that priests on the MC are largely silent at the meetings, fearing repercussions and retribution (loss of their parish assignments, etc.). The MC does power, rightfully given it, but it has been emasculated for years through an administration that fostered fear and demanded a rubber stamp. Can it still act? I pray that it can.
Today I read Fr. George Johnson’s reflection. I do agree with some portions of it, but I totally disagree with one of his key recommendations. (His words) “A deliberate effort must then be made to seek a chancellor.” What have we just been through during the tenure of our ex-Chancellor? This office evolved into an imperial office. (How and why did this happen?) Too much power was centered on this priest in this office. All decisions of church life were supposed to be run through him, whether or not this encroached upon the role of the diocesan bishop. Many were harmed by his actions. This priest became the “face” of our church around the world. Why? We have a Metropolitan at the head of our church. Our hierarchs should lead, show us the way to lead our lives in Christ and build up His Church by their sacrifice and example. Given this very painful recent past with many issues swirling around our ex-Chancellor yet to be clarified and resolved, we do not need a chancellor now. Let an administrative head/chair be appointed, one whose office will not supersede the good order of our church (i.e. the MC or the diocesan bishop). Of course, the sad reality is that many of our hierarchs are not leading. Some are silent. Some threaten those who question or speak out.
Lord, we call upon thee! Hear us!
You are right. I should not jump to conclusions.
However, I will ask again, how come nobody seems to want to talk about what was said in the oral report given by the accounting firm at the last MC meeting?
People will talk about everything else but will not channel their energies to whether the allagations are true or not.
Why the diversion Linda?
Why not once and for all get to the bottom of where the money went, who was responsible for it's improper handling and then go on with a plan to enact change and implement the best possible solution to the problem?
I thought this is what the current Administration is trying to accomplish.
Trust me, I want answers just as bad as the next person, but sometimes these things take more time than any of us is willing to give.
The one thing I hope is that regardless of how we all feel and the way in which we voice our concerns, we are ALL on the same page in terms of seeing the Church come out of this crisis stronger than before.
#31 Michael Geeza on 2006-08-04 19:19
Fr. John Erickson (Dean SVOTS) once wrote:"Will there ever be a truly American expression of Orthodoxy? Much here depends on what it means to be Orthodox and what it means to be American – questions which also call for reexamination."
This mess caused by our hierarchs and the fixes proposed by others (the cure, I think, will be worse than the sickness), are a truly an "American expression"... Of Orthodoxy? No, I wouldn't go that far. Let's just call it an "American expression of orthodoxy." [Little "o" as opposed to big "O" Orthodoxy]
"If, when they grieve at their downfall, reproaching and abusing themselves for it, they think: 'I shall do this and that, the consequences of my downfall will be effaced and all will be well once more,' this is a sure sign that before the downfall they trusted themselves, instead of trusting God. And the more gloomy and disconsolate their grief, the more it shows that they relied too much on themselves and too little on God." - St. Theophan the Recluse
#32 Joe on 2006-08-05 04:41
N.J. (OCA): It is clear to me that at present the OCA is currently reaping what it has sown. The fruits of its "autocephaly" and its proud "American expression of Orthodoxy(tm)" are now obvious for all to see. Suddenly old school "ethnic" and Traditional expressions of Orthodoxy (known in OCA circles as "little t-ers") are by virtue of their very longterm viability (not just here in the U.S.), a very attractive alternative. If I'm allowed to speculate, it is certainly possible that there is a silver lining to our current troubles. They may actually serve the greater cause of the healing of the Russian-American Orthodox schisms, leading some of us back to our elder brethren here in America, namely, the soon to be re-united MP/ROCOR. Yeah, I know this sentiment is anathema to American Expressioners, but I think a lot of us are getting tired of the American ethnic ghetto.
#33 Joe on 2006-08-05 05:04
I have a simple question.? If the OCA was in such dire financial straights prior to the revelations of this scandal where was all the money coming from to operate? Why was everyone so oblivious to this fact?.
I attended an OCA church in the Greater NY area which had a tiny core membership . The church was made up largely of old people and nonprofessionals yet they were spending money hand over fist above and beyond their operating costs on new Iconostasis, new doors , roof, rooms, repairs, special icons, AC, etc. year after year without any fund drives or appeals for money. Yet, never did anyone question the sourceof money. Isn't that odd? Seems the fish does start to rot from the head. It isn't only Syosett that stinks.
#34 withhold on 2006-08-05 06:02
And proclaiming the Gospel of Christ for the salvation of souls should be the least of our worries, right Joe? Good luck.
Priest Robert K. McMeekin
Holy Cross Mission
Saint Croix Falls, WI
#35 Anonymous on 2006-08-05 07:12
You apparently have no concept of mission or of the catholic expression of faith! Hiding in an ethnic or religious ghetto is hardly the model of Our Lord, the Apostles or saints such as Cyril, Methodius, Tikhon, etc. Your pharisaical vision is the antithesis of what the Church should be.
#36 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2006-08-05 08:27
With all due respect, Fr. George, I must disagree with your simile about the Romanians, the Armenians and the Hungarians.
The Romanians (OCA) collected money for the Armenians (victims of terrorism, children, orphans, priests in need of medical help, etc).
However, per your scenario, the Armenians (OCA), instead gave the money to the Hungarians (did they too need help?) but not to the Armenians.
Sadly, in our real life case, the OCA did not give the money to some other beneficiary. THEY KEPT IT THEMSELVES. And to this day, we do not know where the money went and why this was done.
#37 Eu on 2006-08-05 08:42
Dear OCA (NJ):
Although I must confess to having considered moving "from pirogi to feta," that's not the sentiment I'm reading here. The sentiment I'm picking up on is this: "Neither pirogi nor feta, but 'baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie'." I'm picking up on another sentiment--one that I think was conveyed in my posted suggestion to the MC above: Why should I leave, when I've done nothing wrong? I haven't broken the canons. I haven't mishandled Church funds. I haven't tried to cover it up. I'm not saying I'm without sin--"all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." However, regarding my involvement in the OCA, I haven't acted uncanonically, so why should I leave?
Instead, the sentiment I see is one of the faithful demanding that we be the Church we are called to be, and that we act according to the rule by which we've agreed to operate, i.e., the Statutes of the OCA.
#38 Gregory Grant on 2006-08-05 09:55
When you find me an ancient Patriarchate that is free from systematic corruption, I'll be first in line.
#39 Priest Christopher Wojcik on 2006-08-05 10:57
Do you think that Dr. Skordinski would have asked the questions she asked if there had been a full report at the last MC meeting? Wake up and smell the coffee.
Has anyone wondered if what was going on is money laundering? Especially with the Anreas money. I mean where is it? I have even wondered if blackmailing is still going on. Follow the money. Is anyone doing that? And what about the tape? The St. Catherine's tape. Has anyone seen that? Who has it? Is it still around or has it been destroyed?
If anyone thinks the laity are just going to forget all this and poney up the money they have another thing coming. We have been through a lot of scandals in this country. We aren't a bunch of Russian peasants.
What gets me to Church on Sunday now is my love of Christ and knowing that MILLIONS of people have died for the right to attend the Eucharist. And I am not going to let a bunch of crooks keep me away from the Body and Blood of Christ. But I for one will not stay in the OCA forever. We need some answers and we need to see some real repentance around here or some folks defrocked. I will let Ceasar decide what to do about any criminal activity.
St. Mark Bethesda
#40 Linda Weir on 2006-08-05 11:57
Dear Fr. Robert,
Re: "Right, Joe?" I'm sorry but I totally disagree with your statement that "proclaiming the Gospel of Christ for the salvation of souls should be the least of our worries."
In this type of endeavor, a priest of all people should know that "luck" has nothing to do with it.
Starets Anatole the Younger of Optina made a prophecy in 1917: "There will be a storm. And the Russian ship will be smashed to pieces. But people can be saved even on splinters and fragments. And not everyone will perish. One must pray, everyone must repent and pray fervently. And what happens after a storm? ...There will be a calm.’ At this everyone said: ‘But there is no more ship, it is shattered to pieces; it has perished, everything has perished.’ ‘It is not so,’ said Batiushka. ‘A great miracle of God will be manifested. And all the splinters and fragments, by the will of God and His power, will come together and be united, and the ship will be rebuilt in its beauty and will go on its own way as foreordained by God. And this will be a miracle evident to everyone.”
I'm convinced that this miracle "evident to everyone" will further the cause of proclaiming the Gospel of Christ more than the OCA's checkbook balancing act.
Riding my splinter,
#41 Joe on 2006-08-05 12:23
I have been reading Mr. Geeza's very many posts and up to now have been able to resist responding to his many naive comments. I have problems with three points in this latest post of his.
1. He states that the current administration is trying..."once and for all to get to the bottom where the money went' etc. etc. I've been reading this website since it opened and I don't see where the current administation is doing any such thing. I see them stonewalling now as much as when the allegations first surfaced. The two year audit was a farce and even this was handled badly. We'll see what --if anything---we learn from the P-R report.
2. Michael, please do not use the term...."trust me" in any comment on this website re this scandal. Most of us are not prepared to trust anyone--not you, not +Tikhon, not the urban monk, not Syosset, not anyone.
3. You closed your post by expressing a hope that the OCA will come out of this stronger than before. Your naivete shows up here. There is no possible way that the OCA will come out of this stronger than before. I believe that most of us have as our most optimistic goal that the OCA survives PERIOD.
#42 nicholas skovran on 2006-08-05 18:25
Dear Mr. Geeza.
I am astonished and perplexed by some of your comments.
You contradicted yourself over and over. First, you blasted Dr. Faith Skordinski for trying to clarify what went on at the MC meetings. Then you ask "...why doesn't ANYONE ever say what really went on during that meeting?" Why don't YOU ask those who published the public report what was omitted, distorted, etc.? It certainly was not Dr. Skordinski who wrote that report. You say you want to see if anyone has the guts to answer your question. It's going to take a lot more than guts to answer all our questions. That would take legal suits. I applaud Dr. Skordinski for stepping up as a newly elected MC member with guts, clarity, focus, soundness of mind, and professional experience. Her questions bring honest inquiry and desire for the truth. I hope to see other MC members speaking out soon. I hope to see those who will continue to simply sit and allow this corruption to continue... RESIGN.
#43 Ellen Barber on 2006-08-05 18:33
Dear Father Christopher,
The Blessed Theophylact wrote: "Grace operates as well through the unworthy, so that we are sanctified as well through unworthy priests."
If this is true for Priests, might it be true that we could also be able to be blessed through the unworthy Patriarchates from which the authority of the unworthy Priests derive?
#44 Joe on 2006-08-05 19:45
I'm an OCA priest, commenting anonymously in order to focus on issues. (If this bothers you, skip to the next comment now...)
OK. I believe all comments in this section are way off base! They're founded on the assumption that "WE" can say or do something (anything) to make a difference in this mess. The assumption is FALSE. IF it were true: (a) this wouldn't have happened in the first place, (b) those in leadership would've responded long ago to pleas of presumed fellow-leaders (e.g. Arch. Job, senior clergy, etc), and (c) at least SOME official response giving SOME concrete answers ("throw us a bone!") should have come by now; due to the sheer number of passionate comments, insightful reflections, and desperate, heartfelt cries on this site. (This site is a good place to vent but venting doesn't change things. I'm not holding my breath for answers to Ms Skrodinski. Are you?)
I suggest that in order to move beyond this, we "change the assumption," based on reality, to: "it doesn't matter what "WE" think, say or do."
There seems to be an agenda in place that "WE" apparently can't handle. The only logical reason for the long, deafening silence of Syosset -- from those we formerly thought actually cared about us -- can be that the "principals", under advisement by their respective attorneys (to whom they DO respond and dearly pay; with whose money?), have reached some MUTUAL AGREEMENT to NOT comment or press the issue from either side ("I won't implicate you if you don't implicate me.")
If there was anything ILLEGAL done, the feds (not us) will eventually find and deal with it. (Have DNA samples been taken yet?) We can only deal with what we've got (not much).
So let's see what comments there are as to what to do next, based on THIS new assumption: "WE" simply don't matter to those calling the shots! (In the Church, this is kinda sad, isn't it -- with the whole Jesus and "love another" thing goin' on?)
#45 Fr. Anonymous on 2006-08-05 19:56
KRT, You assume too much. I'm not Slavic, nor Greek, nor Arab. What sort of ethnic ghetto am I supposed to be advocating as a hiding place?
Personally, I'm attracted to the 1000-plus-years track records of the so-called "ethnic" expressions. Through many dangers, toils and snares, they have already come. They are extant and not extinct. As long as they are unashamedly Orthodox I don't care what ethnicity they are. I'm joining up!
By little "c" catholic are you advocating some sort of minimalist Orthodoxy? The very little "o" orthodoxy that I mentioned earlier?
34 years of autocephaly. Can the OCA make it to 40 years at this rate? As an organization it will survive, but in what form?
Scandals come and go, but once the American Protestant congregationalist model advocated by the we-not-russian-peasants-crowd takes hold in the OCA (and it surely is a-comin' according to the fixers), then you'll see an American Expression that is truly "Eastern Rite Protestantism."
ERP is "just the thing" to fit into the Protestant-ethos of America. It is obviously just the thing needed by some number of people in the OCA, but truth to tell, it is the one thing unneedful by the many who WILL leave before, during and after the ERP reformation of the OCA.
#47 Joe on 2006-08-05 20:27
One has to ask what was the Archbshop of NY and NJ doing at this time; Bishop Peter? Where did he fit in? Just look at all the press photos from the last 15-20 years Kondratick and +Peter over and over!
Catch a clue M. Hermann! The longer you delay the truth the harder the questions are going to get. This is not going away no matter what you may think.
#48 (withhold) on 2006-08-06 06:51
Okay, I agree. Let's wake up and smell the coffee.
The layity shouldn't forget this one bit.
From everything that's been revealed to date, it appears we are dealing with only ONE CROOK and possibly another through association.
My point is, why wasn't anyone ever incensed enough while serving on the MC to realize proper reports weren't being provided for the last 15 years? Why only now? Didn't they know they were only being provided with compilation reports?
From what I've read so far, it seems that Mr. John Kozey was the only person who sensed something was wrong a while back and he attempted to address it.
But we all know what happened to him. He was terminated!
Terminated not by the MC, but rather Fr. Kondratick and Met. Theodosius.
Why weren't ANY of the MC members vocal or outraged about that?
I find it hard to believe that this group of people could actually represent the Church and NOT KNOW what was going on.
I'll give them the benefit of the doubt though because they were probably all DUPED.
Unfortunately, they were probably only provided with LIMITED financial information that the previous administration wanted them to see.
How come when all of the information started to leak out about the former chancellor regarding questionable financial mis-management (which was revealed through the Pdc. Weeler and Mr. Hunchak reports), why were people like Dr. Skordinski not vocal and writing letters then, asking detailed questions and demanding transparency from the former chancellor?
How could they sit there meeting after meeting, year after year and not question why our Church was always in the red?
Linda, the problem I have is not with the questions Dr. Skordinski is asking or the fact that she's asking them, but rather, she and the rest of her fellow MC members had ample opportunities to ask questions long before the dismissal of the former chancellor and long before the loan was applied for.
Why didn't they?
I just think it's unfair to lambaste the Metropolitan and treasurer for all of the wrongs done by the former Administration.
I think we have to admit that they are trying to correct MANY wrongs and it's not easy.
Let's also not lose sight of the fact that perhaps they too weren't told everything either. I think it's a safe assumption that they were kept in the dark much more so than any of us could possibly ever imagine.
#49 Michael Geeza on 2006-08-06 10:02
So, if in fact, Metropolitan Herman and Fr. Kucynda were directly involved in this scandal for years, and apparently did nothing to solve it since taking over, that being hte case, if the findings reflect that...you would rise up and demand thier resignation....correct? If not for anything else, for misleading you that they were part of the solution, not the problem.
I keep reading these posts..."The Church...The Church. Folks, the church is where you go on Sundays, and I hope they are managed much better than the central adminsitration. Your church is not and has not been in trouble, your management team however, is facing potential criminial charges like embezzlement and the like. This is nothing more than a person with rental property hiring a sub-standard management team to run the day to day business in their absence. You can simply move on and fire them, hire another and learn your lesson. No one person is that important. Not even a Metropolitan who has had an intimate role for a few decades closely aligned with his predecessor. If it turns out he has known of and done nothing to resolve this, or was part of the scandal, he should be arrested and prosecuted.
As I said a long time ago, thank god this is not the Catholic Church sex scandal, I'd hate to think how many would defend the priests...
Orthodoxy is alive and well, I agree this will be a black mark on the OCA, however the next interation of the OCA will learn from this mistake and hold its administration accountable to the general membership. This whole situation unfolded over the years because folks would listen to the Bishops and Metropolitans and take thier word on business. As a rule, they are not business people, they are not schooled for it. Its the same as a church folks, one that runs well has a Priest for the services and a board for the business. A priest who mettles in the business, is eventutally a recipe for disaster.
Our religon will survive this, my hope is that the dirty people are arrested, tried and jailed.
#50 Bob H. on 2006-08-06 15:19
Greg, I agree. That was my point actually, that people shouldn't leave but stay and help each other go through this, it was a reply to someone above who talked about moving to a different church. My "pierogies vs. feta cheese" was just a gross exageration to get the point accross, I am sorry to confuse you.
However, on the point of 'us' not being guilty:
I do think that there are specific individuals who are responsible for this that will be punished in this life or the other. But at the same time I am also convinced that this is failure of us all. I will be the first to say that I am guilty of being ignorant. Up until this scandal started I had no idea what the Metropolitan Council was, who was on it, what it was in charge of. I didn't know and didn't care who the treasurer was. I didn't bother to check or follow up to see what happened with the donations to the OCA for Katrina and other such funds. I never even looked through the OCA newsletter. I was convinced that somebody was running everying behind the scenes -- someone perfect, much like a saint... or rather like a computer. I just gave my money and then showed up on Sundays and then back into the world, family and other stuff. I would hope that I would be the only one guilty of this, but I am afraid that this will sound too familiar to many other OCA members.
It is easy to point fingers, jump to conclusions, and find a scapegoat. This is the way that the world operates. But we are a Christian family, when one member of the family fails, the whole family fails to a certain degree. Not just that one guilty person has to repent and confess their sins but the whole family has to repent and confes. It is the fast of the Dormition still, and this is a time to fast, pray, go to confession and take care of the needy. Let us do that together even as we continue to investigate and dig deeper to find the truth.
#51 N.J. on 2006-08-06 15:26
Uh, Joe, you really (!) misunderstood Fr. Robert's comment.
#52 Fr. Oliver Herbel on 2006-08-06 15:27
Dear Father Oliver,
No, I understood it only too well and answered in kind.
#53 Joe on 2006-08-06 18:10
Picket? And accomplish what? The seared consciences did wickedly without fear of God, and that's the main problem.
Not to accidentally sound like I don't care about the situation, but I still believe God has everything under control, even when we don't like the circumstances.
In my opinion, it would be better for the truly guilty to defrock themselves and ask forgiveness of the Lord and His Church while their souls are still redeemable.
Can weeds convert themselves into stalks of wheat before the harvest? The Holy Spirit can do anything. I don't see how riots will lead anyone to repentance. Rather there is further lying, cover-ups and defensiveness.
I just don't understand why there is such shock at such things as this scandal when we have all sorts of warnings in the Bible about such days coming.
Pray that God would soften the hearts of these people, and our own hearts too.
#54 Rdr. Alexander Langley on 2006-08-06 18:39
I disagree with your denigration of American Orthodoxy when you wrote of an "American expressionism of Orthodoxy" as leading to an "American Orthodox Protestantism." Although, obviously, many ORTHODOX here ARE PROTESTING the apparent fraud and breaking of canon law apparently undertaken by members of the hierarchy, I don't see anyone going all John Knox or Congregationalist. First of all, fraud and theft and deceit--if that's indeed what has been perpetrated by certain members of the hierarchy over the past fifteen years or so--is fraud and theft and deceit. These are absolute moral wrongs, whether one is Orthodox, Protestant, or Catholic.
What's more, what I believe most of us here--and in the parishes--want is responsible leadership according to the Church Law (canons) by which this particular Church was founded. That so many of us will not simply "shut up, pray, and pay" reflects, I think, a strong sense of stewardship by the Faithful. Since that stewardship was apparently betrayed when we paid, we have a right to find out how it happened and to take a role, especially via the Metropolitan Council, in disciplining those guilty and in taking steps likely to ensure that it doesn't happen again.
Finally if we don't ensure that the truth is brought to light and appropriate action is taken, i.e. "if we don't clean our own house," someone else will do it for us. I'm speaking, of course, of the Government. Then, added to the crushing debt we're apparently going to be carrying, will be fines and back-taxes. Again, it's a question of stewardship.
As a final note in this thread of the discussion, I'd like to say that if I wanted to belong to a Church with a monarchical hierarchy, if I wanted to belong to a Church that broke canon law as a matter of routine, if I wanted to belong to a Church that committed crimes and civil wrongs, and if I wanted to belong to a Church that mobilized itself to cover it all up...I would've stayed Catholic. This has been so painful, so trying, to so many of the Faithful, myself included. It's hard enough for me to "pull the log out of my own eye," but I still have one good eye and am both heartbroken and angered by what I see. When I joined the Orthodox Church ca. five years ago, this is not what I envisioned myself doing, but how can I ignore it? I can't even imagine the pain that "cradle-Orthodox" folks are feeling--actually, I can imagine it: It's the pain I felt when I realized that the Catholic Church was intrinsically flawed, leading to many of its current troubles, and that since I couldn't fix it, I would leave. I can't do that with the Orthodox Church. I came to believe, even as I was struggling with Catholicism, that Orthodoxy is the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. I can't walk away, for fear that if I do, I might well be walking away from organized religion altogether.
#55 Gregory Grant on 2006-08-07 00:48
Dear Fr. Anonymous:
With apologies, I disagree with your proposed premise, i.e., that "WE' can do nothing. There are remedies under canon law by virtue of our status as Church members. There are remedies under U.S. and state law, by virtue of our status as American citizens. Your analogy reminds me of people who say, "Oh, I don't vote because the politicians are a bunch of crooks and nothing ever changes." Well, when people do not participate, do not take stewardship (whether over the Church or our political governance), that is certainly true. My opinion is that we have an obligation, by virtue of our baptism and our citizenship, to do what we can. If we the Faithful just ignore this, it will happen again and again and again. By the way, this is no great joy to anyone.
#56 Gregory Grant on 2006-08-07 01:02
Joe, You may or may not be aware that within the OCA, there are parishes that observe what you characterize as the little "t"s, as well as those that do not. I fail to see how lack of such piety is any more a guarantee of failure to live according to the Gospel than having such piety guarantees it. Quite frankly, there is plenty of hypocracy and judgement thrown by both types of observers to the other.
I, for one, do not see the MP or ROCOR as a panacea. External acts of piety, while they can be a tool to aid in one's salvation, are all too easily turned into they very things Christ's teachings would have us avoid. Assuming that those who observe various pious acts are not also spiritually (or otherwise) slothful is as much a mistake as assuming those that who don't observe such pious acts are also spiritually (or otherwise) slothful.
I agree with Fr. Bob. His repsonse was a question that was not meant as a question, but rather as a literary tool meant to point out a gross omission in your own judgement against the OCA in general. Your own reply to Fr. Christopher argues against your own initial post.
Our problem is the collective problem of everyone in the OCA. We all contributed and allowed whatever abuses may have occurred to occur. Changing juristdictions isn't going to change the hearts of the people; and changing heart is precisely the meaning of repentance. Repentance is not asking a different hierarchy to serve our Liturgies.
#57 John Czukkermann on 2006-08-07 06:19
Well said--both you and Greg! I truly believe these sentiments represent the overwhelming lay, and even clerical, consensus in the OCA. Anybody listening in Syosset? We can't hear you!
#58 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2006-08-07 07:11
You said what I was thinking too. All of the sudden we have a surge of items on OCANews.org about MC - how MC could easily take control of the finances, how some members of the MC are outraged and are write daily emails to the Metropolitan, and of course how MC will save OCA. Then, of course, follows a stream of supporting comments from everyone else praising the MC. But where was the MC up until now. If they really are in charge of finances as they claim, then shouldn't they be guilty too for such gross mis-management of money, perhaps at least for "letting it slide" or "turning away" at convinient times and so on? Maybe they were being threatened and intimidated, or perhaps they will just claim that to get away...
#59 N.J. on 2006-08-07 08:05
Dr. Skordinski was just elected to the MC. I believe she has only been to 2 meetings, plus one teleconference. As soon as she became aware of these problems she started trying to do something, it would appear.
Now, as to why others sat there for years and did nothing. I would like the answer to that too. I am told they didn't know, had no reason to question what they were being told, trusted, ect. Someone that trusting either didn't understand the MC's responsibilities or shouldn't be on the MC.
I believe that both +Herman and Fr. Paul K. were teasurers during the time this stuff was going on. Now, either they were stupid or asleep at the switch (letting someone else do it).
I don't believe for a minute that "they just found out and are trying to fix it)". I believe circumstances put them in a place where they could no longer deny it. Those circumstances being the scandal going public.
What we have now is foxes guarding the henhouse. One of the foxes is locked out, leaving no trail, apparently. And what trail was left is probably history now. And where or where is the St. Catherines' tape?
Can anyone confirm or deny that what was said by the auditor at the MC meeting was, "We don't know where the money went. Their are no receipts?" How do you like them apples?
I believe the only way the laity (and they care about our money if nothing else) will/can trust the Central Church is for Met. Herman to resign, for Fr. Paul to resign, for us to have an extaordinary session of the AAC and elect a new metropolitan. And appoint an accountant, not a priest, as treasurer. This for starters.
Then the MC has to start acting like an MC. And should have accountants, lawyers, etc. in it's membership. It should not be a "beauty contest".
And any bishops who are still being blackmailed need to step forward and admit what they are being blackmailed for and step down. Then the blackmail will stop.
And I wish the govenment would get involved. That may be the only way to get this cleared up. I believe someone committing acts such as these have separated themselves from the Church by their actions. So it is not like we are "siccing" the FBI and IRS on the Church. Taking money intended for widows and orphans, paying sexual blackmail, good grief.
Further, I believe OCA parishes should put their "assessments" in escrow until the foxes are out of the henhouse and the house can be put in good order again.
Then we should all say, "Never again. As God is my witness, never again."
#60 Linda Weir on 2006-08-07 09:45
I guess hiring one of the most prominent law firms in the country specializing in this type of mismanagement is doing nothing?
My gosh, what in the name of God do you and other's want from Metropolitan Herman and Fr. Kucynda?
Isn't it obvious that the law firm is forbiding them to say anything at this particular moment?
For the fifth time, I will ask once again, why hasn't anyone who attended the last MC meeting come forth to write what was said during the oral report given by the accounting firm?
I for one would like to know because I think it would say much with regard to possible financial improprieties.
Why won't anyone answer my question Nick?
Could it be that these members have been asked to be silent just as the Church has?
If that is the case, then is it fair for "us" to demand certain information from the current administration when members of the so-called governing body won't share with us what they themselves heard with their own ears?
If that is the case, is it fair to throw stones at those who are trying to correct the problem, find a feasible solution and impliment measures to make sure it never happens again?
I strongly suggest if you haven't had an opportunity to do so already, to please read Protodeacon Peter Danilchick's reflection. The current investigation by Proskauer Rose is not necessarily being done to provide "us" with a written report, but rather to protect the church.
Why do you feel the OCA is finished Nick?
You've been a faithful and active member for so long, I can't believe you are willing to give up on it so easily.
What is the alternative? The MP, ROCOR or GOAD?
Please just wait until something more definitively can be stated before giving up all hope.
#61 Michael Geeza on 2006-08-07 14:11
Take a deep breath and step away from the precipice. You haven't come this far only to become a Donatist.
"See that ye all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as ye would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize or to celebrate a love-feast; but whatsoever he shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be secure and valid."
I assume that these words of St. Ignatius of Antioch still ring true today in the OCA?
Or these words?
"Never allow yourself boldly to judge your neighbor; judge and condemn no one, ... rather have compassion and pity for him, but let his example be a lesson in humility to you; realizing that you too are extremely weak and as easily moved to sin as dust on the road, say to yourself: 'He fell today, but tomorrow I shall fall.'" - St. Theophan the Recluse
I'm dismayed at the lack of discretion, the total disrespect that has shown against our Hierarchs on these pages. Is there no shame in Orthodox Christians throwing words like "crook" so boldly and self righteously at one or more of our Bishops?
I think to myself, "If these have no qualms about libel or slander against their Bishops, then I shudder to think of what they are like among their own people, in their own parishes? I'd hate for them to about my struggles, my sins, my efforts to repent."
If you are in my parish then I pray that you keep a safe distance from me and my family, for the sakes of all concerned.
#62 Joe on 2006-08-07 17:42
Bishop Tikhon has noted the non-involvement of the Synod. Bishop Job has asked what now seems like a ridiculous question. He didn't know zip and the compilations showed the misuse since at least 2001.
Dr. Skordinski has requested compilation reports (Yes, Michael, she is asking for compilations, nothing more). Cash flows/balance sheet/income statement. The standard documents, non-profits have slightly different names.
Remedy secrecy and bad governance like humble priests on the MC without a voice with public budgets and public quarterly financials, or, public hanging and lousy contributions for years.
Returning or establishing Best Practices aren't good enough for catastrophes. Hopefully, Mrs. Breton (sp) takes a minute to read this note of mine. Organizations with critical failures do not return quickly by embarking on standards, they return quickly by embarking on greatness, opening their doors, and asking for help. When has Herman or the MC asked for any help? Why hasn't the OCA submitted its budget. It could do this in the newsletter for Pete's sake. No financial statement required.
Quarterly reporting, public budgets, this is my demand. I will never contribute to any special appeal until this mandate is met or 5 years of full audits are done.
The administration can take the risk on how long it takes others to come back around. 5 years of audits is about 5 years from June of 2006. I will mark June, 2011 on my calendar as I am like Thomas on this one.
Pray for them to hear us.
Less is shameful.
#63 Daniel E. Fall on 2006-08-07 18:39
If that's actually the case, I'm saddened to hear that.
#64 Fr. Oliver Herbel on 2006-08-07 19:27
Your suggestion that we need to return to an "ëthnic" church identity to solve the church's problems is a little strange - to say the least.
You seem, like many others, to have an idea that there is a "more pure" church somewhere else. The graas is always greener on the other side - until you get there.
The ROCOR and the Moscow Patriarchate have had their share of scandals. Not too many years ago, Fr Alexander Men tried to expose finacial corruption in Moscow. How was he rewarded ? He was bludgeoned to death with an axe on his way to serve the Sunday Liturgy ! That's how they deal with whistle blowers in Russia.
As for the ROCOR - their niave embrace of anybody willing to anathematize the New Calendar caused them to harbor the Sodomite Greeks in Boston and the convert Pederasts in Blanco Texas ! ! Not only that, one of their bishops was "retired" when he tried to sell church property in Jerusalem (the so-called Russian excavations on the Via Dolorosa) to Isreali real estate speculators ! ! The transaction was only stopped when Interpol intecepted the money tranfer.
My friend, you can run; but you cannot hide. We live in a fallen world and human beings make mistakes - even priests and bishops. We can either "cut and run"or stand our ground, trusting in God.
You can hide in some fantasy of "Holy Russia", especially if you've never lived there. My wife and I have cousins in Moscow that we talk to weekly. They could give you a more realisitc picture of life in "Holy Russia". The mafiosi run everything - including the government. Putin is an unreconstructed KGB agent. Street crime is rampant. Skinhead gangs are committing hate crimes against anyone who isn't blond haired and blue eyed. Drug abuse and promiscuity are pandemic with a skyrocketing rate of HIV infections. I've seen Russian talk television talk shows that would make Jerry Springer blush !
"Holy Russia"- GET REAL !
If God wanted ÿou to be "Russian Orthodox", you would have been born in Sepukhov or Zagorsk. If, you really think you can be a better Orthodox Chrisitan in the Russian church, then buy a plane ticket and go ! ! God put us here in America for a reason. We are called to be faithful Orthodox Christians in the here and now.
The church has always had troubles and betrayals. Look at Ananias and Sapphira in the very times of the Apostles ! St Paul argued vehemently with Peter and refused to travel with Barnabas. Jesus Christ promised us troubles in this world (see the Gospel of John chapter 15 and 16) It is our destiny to face troubles in this world. (like our Babuska used to say: " Akh, sud'ba") Our character is defined by how we face up to our troubles.
Joe, I want you to listen carefully now. The church WILL survive here in America, and it WILL an American church.
My best wishes and prayers to all of you for strength, courage and most of all, FAITH
#65 Francis Frost on 2006-08-07 20:17
Terrific slam dunk response!
By the way Joe, a Donatist heretic believes the sacramental actions of a priest are invalid if he is corrupt or unworthy of his office. No one that I've seen posting on this site believes this or we would long ago have stopped accepting the sacramental ministrations of many of our priests and bishops.
#66 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2006-08-08 05:42
one chooses to see what they want: filth and lewdness or purity and sanctity. I will be the last one to advocate an administrative merger with any “ethnic church”. But self-sufficiency in the spiritual realm, for which so many within the OCA yearn, is preposterous and stems from arrogance and folly not much different from those displayed by enthusiastic religious nationalists in the old world. Yet the churches in that world that you slammed so pompously and smugly still persevered thanks to the blood of their martyrs and generations of ascetics and zealots. Take a look at the icon of the Saints of America. Where did they come from, Smallville?
Many on this website pointed out similarities between the current crisis and the ugly symptoms of autocratic regimes. Perhaps this present situation is a message to us that ”our way” is often not the best way, and that sins of conceit and impudence produce the same results, no matter where they are committed.
#67 Karina Ross on 2006-08-08 07:31
One additional bit of information. Months ago, I sent a comment alluding to the fact that it appeared that money laundering could conceivably be evident here and I was subsequently blasted with a response from soneone saying, "money laundering, give me a break."
As you know I've been extremely vocal throughout this and I just wanted you to know that I had already mentioned that.
#68 Michael Geeza on 2006-08-08 11:49
You know I was in a prominent OCA church for years, but the continual unaccountability as concerned finances and personal behavior by the clergy (which was scandalous); well, lets just say I had had it and departed. It was the best thing I ever did. Oddly I had more a belief in an American Church than the above mentioned priests whose willingness to play toady to any ethnicity, especially the Russians, was more a sign of classic American anti-intellectualism than any reverence for traditional Orthodoxy.
Hey, here is a suggestion OCA should stand for Orthodox Church OF America. That'd be a start.
#69 (withhold) on 2006-08-09 04:47
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