Having read and thought about Protodeacon Peter's recent Reflection posted on this web site, and now, having read the latest article Mark has written regarding the loan, I think my uneasiness regarding the adoption of "Best Practices" as a solution to the OCAs problems has been better focused.
Toward the end of today's article on the loan, "Best Practices" is referred to as possibly being "window dressing." It occurs to me that no matter what structure, laws, guidelines, procedures ... are put into place to guide an organization, in the end, every organization is affected by the character and cooperation and attitudes of the individuals in charge. If those individuals choose to make decisions and take action that is guided by the rules, then you have an orderly and well-run organization.
If, on the other hand, those individuals choose to operate according their own rules and expediency, ignoring the guidelines , the "Best Practice," then guidelines, rules, and "Best Practice" are irrelevant, and you will have what the OCA seems to have had, for some years, and appears to continue to have.
My guess is that the silence from Syosset is based on the fear of a defamation lawsuit. Defamation can be either oral (slander) or written (libel). Syosset would be prudent to have all its ducks in a row before releasing any information that could be interpreted as defaming anyone's character, such as, unlawfully diverting Church money. This is most likely the threat made to +Metropolitan, and it is a very real threat. Everyone is very anxious to learn who did what when; however, whatever is released must be accurate.
"Best Practices" in any institution are a combination of honesty and common sense. We seem to have lacked both. Mere adoption on paper is not the same as implementation in daily life.
Over the years, OCA has adopted much on paper, with little to show for it. The culture of corruption and incompetence must go and with it those who have been responsible for such over the years. If this means that we end up with only the receptionist and the gardener on the payroll, so be it. That would be a better practice than what we have now, with so little that is honorable to show for it.
At this juncture, claims of confidentiality by key players embroiled in this controversy are suspect at best. Should such claims be legitimate, they need to be affirmed by honest brokers who should be designated forthwith and then be made privy to this information so that the greater Church can be assured of the veracity of the confidentiality claims.
It is clear, by actions of Met. Herman and the acting Secretary/Treasurer, that the First Hierarch and his confidants are not willing to be transparent in anything.
You can disclose why information is confidential without breaking the confidential nature of the information. What of the Church is proprietary? What of the Church is confidential?
This is foolishness, not the Gospel. Not one of Sr. Skordinski's questions requires disclosure of confidential information.
Most not-for-profits are required to file annual disclosures with the Internal Revenue Service. Such disclosures include listings of donors, contractors, compensation, etc. Donor information is redacted when provided to the public, but individual contributions are still disclosed.
It's sad that the Church is unwilling to provide the information provided by other not-for-profit organizations. As a religious institution we are NOT required to file such information. However, we should provide it voluntarily. That is a bare minimum of transparency.
Will it take a lawsuit by the Metropolitan Council members, or a mass resignation, before transparency is enforced? There is no circumstance in which the current obfuscation and outright refusal to answer questions is appropriate. None.
The government will perhaps be involved soon, if not already. The Scriptures say that an accusation should be taken first in private, then with two or three, then to the faithful. While we can still determine the outcome within the Church, we must attempt to do so. We must know the truth, the full and complete truth, and act accordingly.
Fr. Paul wites: "Since the Metropolitan and I are privy to confidential information that for various reasons must be kept confidential . . . some topics cannot and therefore will not be addressed."
The OCA Statute plainly says: "The Metropolitan Council . . . Initiates, prosecutes, and defends all legal matters affecting the interest of the Church [and] May receive reports from any department in areas within the competence of the Metropolitan Council."
The Metropolitan Council is entitled to know what is going on. The Metropolitan Council has a duty to know what is going on.
Where does the OCA Statute give the OCA Secretary/OCA Treasurer the discretion to withhold information from the Metropolitan Council in one of the areas of the Council's competence?
That is an excellent question you bring up Robert! I don't know if this loan will be approved. If it doesn't perhaps this is an even better chance for the OCA to "come clean" and meet as a group in a special AAC, for it is imperative, whether this loan is approved or not, that we meet as a church so that we are never put in the position of taking out another $1.7 million dollar loan.
A defamation lawsuit may be a real concern. However, attempting to secure a $1.7 million loan requires the Metropolitan Council to receive certain information. It is foolish for the Metropolitan Council to blindly approve the loan.