First, thank you for setting up this website. Straight information is much needed!
I have a new question, but please do not use my full name or email. Just post it from "Janet."
Are there not also questions about expense account/American Express account expenditures by our Chancellor?
Thanks, Janet, for your question. There are growing questions about those expenses. You might take a look at the following quote from Deacon Wheeler's Call to Accountability, page 2 , available as Document#34:
"In addition, during this same period of time, the infamous External Affairs line item in the budget was tapped for regular payments to cover Father Kondratick’s personal Platinum AMEX card in the amounts of approximately $5,000 to $12,000 per month with little more than comments scratched on the cover sheet of the statements such as “Help for Russia, Armenian Earthquake Relief, Assistance for Czechoslovakian Seminary Students, etc”."
Wheeler's allegations fit right in with the newly revealed 1993 memo from the Audit Committee (available in the Document section) in which the OCA auditors themselves lamented that there was lack of documentation, and a lack of separation of duties, which would certainly allow for this kind of misconduct to occur. Clearly, these allegations should be investigated by a Commission and an audit, so that Fr. Kondratick can be cleared if innocent, and appropriate actions taken, if not.
Good for Deacon Wheeler. Do not be afraid. Where are the Bishops, the Archpriests, all of you with the Jeweled crosses? Why are you afraid? Only Archbishop Job has the courage to stand up. Syosset needs to be sterilized, dismantled, and packed away.
When you take one penny of a donation for your own discretionary use, you are a thief! Plain and Simple!
An American Express charge card... what utter nonsense, and even more that you've convinced yourself that nothing is wrong...
Everyone is dismayed, including me, about these "shenanigans".
The sources for these stories are eye-witness accounts and the documents themselves. In the two weeks we have been online, no one has suggested that any document we put up was false, or in correct. The documents are what they are. People challenged Dn Wheeler's allegations - but even they have fallen silent today as Paul Hunchak has confirmed what Dn. Eric said.
Has there been an internal investigation? No. There needs to be one. Following Archbishop Job's recommendation to Metropolitan Herman - you can read his letter on the site - we need a Commission and an audit to prove the truthfulness of these allegations.
Tommorrow the Lesser Synod of Bishops of the OCA meets in Syosset to discuss this matter. Let us hope they "practice what they preach" and investigate the whole mess according to the principles and guidelines of "Best Practices" - an advisory for non-profits that the Metropolitan himself adopted as the standard for the OCA on January 1, 2006. This requires a commission and an audit. Anything less will reek of a continuing cover-up.
Now that you know, or are learning, of the shenanigans in Syosset, I hope you will join your voice to ours in asking the Lesser Synod to do the right thing!
With the Lesser Synod's response to the alegations posed, and, by the fact that you have indeed seen fit to publish that Statement, are you now going to dismantle this website so that the Church can be about its business of promoting the Gospel of Jesus Christ instead of sowing unsubstantiated gossip?
I am fully aware that this comment, too, along with all my others, will also be "mysteriously deleted" and deemed not fit to be posted to this non-partial website because it doesn't serve to benefit or "fuel" the furnace you wish to keep keep stocked, but I do so as a matter of record and principle.
Having read the resolution of the Lesser Synod from 1-20-06, I am deeply troubled by the lack of a real legitimate plan to address the allegations/ evidence as presented by Dn Wheeler and former Sec. Hunchack. Of particular significance are comments by Met. Herman that stated, "... reaffirmed the decisions made by the Holy Synod of Bishops, at the time these concerns were first raised, in 1999, and 2000." Are we to understand this as meaning that the issue is closed in the eyes of Syosset?
Also the comments that, " The Lesser Synod regrets certain information, and statements concerning the financial administration of the church, that may have been accepted as indisputably the truth. " I took this to mean or at least imply that the information presented by Dn. Wheeler and Mr. Hunchack was incomplete, inaccurate, or even false in the eyes of Syosset and they are disputing factual claims by these two gentlemen. Am I reading that correctly? Sadly I feel we have made little progress with this meeting of the Lesser Synod and I wonder why or how Archbishop Job agreed to this resolution.
Editor et al; Can you shed any light on the statement of the Lesser Synod or what all of the mumbo jumbo means?
I think you should re-read the statement of the Lesser Synod. The Bishops now admit that "mistakes have been made in the past", mistakes that they characterize as "errors, lack of judgement and sin". Clearly they do not agree with your charge that we deal in "unsubstantiated rumours".
In answer to your second charge, that I delete messages I do not agree with, that is not true. In both previous ocassions you have written to me, you have used my private email, rather than this reponse section. I do not respond publically to private email unless the sender requests me to do so.
Please feel free to write, but I would ask you to remember the call to good will set forth by the Bishops. We may disagree about much, but certainly not the need to be charitable even in disagreement. I applaud your stand on your principles. But please, do not ask others to compromise theirs.
And in answer to your question, will this website close down soon? Let me ask you a question, and then I will answer yours. Has anything changed in regards to the financial structures, decisions or participants that led us into what has now been openly admitted as errors, mistakes and sin?
Thanks for your questions, Shawn. It has been less than 24 hours since the Bishops made their comments. I think we would all do well to think about them for a time ourselves before we comment at length. I shall.
And then, perhaps tommorrow, perhaps early next week, we shall have a better understanding of what has happened, what has not happened, and what both mean for the future. Stay tuned.
Why should the laity dismantle this website that has only just begun to reach Orthodox Christians that care deeply about their Church? The offenders in Syosset had years to discuss this financial scandal, while most of us were kept in the dark. Now that we are finally mobilizing and can reach millions of readers, you want us to be seen and NOT heard, to pay up but keep quiet, so that what...you and those you are tring to protect can go about business as usual with a few new "beans to count"? What about Bishop Job's efforts to get to the bottom of this? Are you going to let him take all the heat for requesting a full audit, beyond the two years that Met. Herman is offering? Do you think he has been spending his energies wisely, I do, and thank God two bishops are willing to risk undeserved ridicule from fellow heirarch and brother priests, not for their own sakes, but for Christ's sake. Be not afraid of this website, it is not a "cattle call", we are not bovine, we are mostly spiritually mature orthodox christians that have a voice and are finally being heard.
I am impressed by those clergy and others who are speaking out on behalf of the faithful against injustice and wrongdoing . As I see it, there are three positions to be taken on any issue--agreement, disagreement, and indifference. In the case of this alleged financial misuse of funds, to disagree without knowing all the facts in full detail is to allow corruption to go unchallenged and unpunished; to be indifferent is to agree by default and allow wrongful deeds to be repeated. The only position which will bring about resolution is that which acknowledges that wrongdoing may have occured and that a full investigation is in order.
Greed and fear are not behaviors the church would have us display yet, when truth is circumvented those are the exact reasons we surmise are at fault. I am very disturbed by the position of those who think that the manipulation of events and people to cover up wrongdoing is acceptable as long as one promises to do a better job in the future. Admitting general wrongdoing in part still maintains denial of the whole.
When fact finding is labeled as gossip we reach the danger zone. I feel deceived. What happened to all the donations? My father was highly involved in the Orthodox church and told me many years ago that if I wanted to give to the poor I should go out and give $100 to a poor family, and not to any appeal beyond the parish church because he had seen too much "greed behind the robes". I thought he was being cynical. Now I fear that he was just being truthful.
Mark, I commend you for the extremely articulate editorial of 1/22/06 and for your refusal to be cowed by Fr. John Memorich into shutting down this forum prematurely. As you ably argue, the statement issued by the Lesser Synod on 1/20 does not fully resolve the matter. And the matter MUST be FULLY resolved. It's not enough for the Synod to say, "we have sinned." As John the Forerunner would say, "Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance. . . ." A solution must be implemented that will ensure nothing like this will happen again. This web site should remain in existence until the day that occurs.
Thanks again for your courage and hard work for the sake of Christ's Holy Church.