Friday, March 19. 2010
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You nailed it.
The Metropolitan Council sat there, two weeks ago, and read this report. It was not given to us as a draft. Members were allowed to take it for perusal overnight. It was acclaimed by professionals on the council as complete and well done.
The Church can take the truth. Why won't our bishops tell it? It behooves the faithful to call their bishops personally and importune them, politely but resolutely, for the report's release ASAP.
Lent is no time for another cover-up.
Fr John Reeves
#1 Fr John Reeves on 2010-03-19 19:26
Glory to Jesus Christ!
Mark, I am always impressed & grateful when I see you calling things what they actually are despite others' attempts to spin them. We finally have a synod of bishops we can look to without disgust welling up in our throats, but despite their impressiveness they are still sinful people like the rest of us. When the bishops as individuals or together as a synod are moving in the wrong direction they need to be honestly & directly made aware of this, in love, of course. We owe this to each other as fellow sojourners on the narrow & difficult path into the Kingdom of Heaven.
Thanks for being so vigilant & serving as our sentinel. I & many others are indebted to you. Hopefully our bishops will heed your words & have the humility to accept reality as it is and admit it to the rest of us with the type of candor that brings new life to a branch that is withering on the vine.
#2 Christ's unprofitable servant, Seraphim on 2010-03-20 17:16
Now why would they delay the report? Are we back to massive cover ups again? We already know what happened at STOTS. + Herman re-mortgaged the properties and used the money as his own without informing the Holy Synod of his actions. His new house and other assets were purchased with this money. Also, the bookstore was operating in shady business deals and imported goods which were sold in Philadelphia never paid import tax. Profits went directly to + Herman. And there is more, but isn't this enough?
#3 Anonymous on 2010-03-20 17:28
Hello, information? Yes a listing for Clint Eastwood please.
HANG UM HIGH!
#4 no name on 2010-03-20 17:50
Here we go again! "We just can't handle the truth!"
Seems the bishops have not really learned the lessons of the previous massive spiritual and financial scandal with +Herman and Kondratick and company. That those who are supposed to mirror Christ are still afraid of face reality and speak truthfully before the entire Church is shameful. Come on guys, get a backbone already and start practicing what you keep preaching. This is getting old already!
You need to find something a little juicier than the synod hesitant about revealing very sensitive information. Since your clairvoyance has helped you peer into the hearts and motives of the members of the synod, surely you're holding something back from your eager listeners, Mark. Why are you hesitant to reveal your inside information? Are you dissembling, too? You are being disingenuous by not sharing with us all the other things you have seen in the hearts of the bishops, all the while pretending that all you know is their disingenuousness and cowardliness. SHAME ON YOU MARK! Just be honest and tell us! What are you waiting for? I won't visit your sight anymore until I see you divulge all you know about the bishops, their priests, deacons, subdeacons, taper bearers, etc. Hmf.
(Editor's note: I am waiting, like everyone else, for the Synod to release a Report that was created to be released. That it has not been does not speak to my honesty, but theirs; that it is not being shared does not speak to my disingenuousness, but theirs; and the inside information I possess would be render irrelevant by the information in the Report. Just release it, and then the only motive that may ascribed by anyone is the desire and committment to truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. And that, by any standard, is a worthy motive. )
#6 Anonymous on 2010-03-20 19:11
While I respect you're opinion, I think the Synod is doing the right thing in acting cautiously. The OCA is already defending itself against defamation lawsuits, can we afford more? No! We don't even support our ministries! Word on the street is that Archdeacon Alexei is already lawyered up and just waiting for the OCA to publish the report so he can sue. Herman's lawyer wrote to the synod at the start of the process. The synod's decision may be prudent. Let's not presume that we know what's going on behind closed doors. Time will tell.
(Editor's note: Don't you find it amazing that a man who ostensibly spent 40 years as a monk in service to the Church, the last 30 as a bishop, and the last 5 as the Metropolitan, would be "lawyered" up to sue if the truth is revealed about those years in relation to one institution? Gospodi! Or that his Archdeacon would, according to your account? Or that a former Chancellor is suing the Church he ostensibly served in order to prevent it from offering its ministry? Well, the Lord said you will know them by their fruits, and it seems its harvest time! That being said, "time" will not tell - it rarely does. People need to give account, and it is for his Saints to witness to the truth. Anything less is not redeeming the Time, but acceeding to it. I am all for prudence, for God gave us our brains to serve Him in the tangle of our wits. But the truth is the best and only defense - and let those who would attack the truth do so. They will fail. They always do. )
#7 Anon. on 2010-03-20 19:50
They are afraid.
They are afraid of what happens if people read the conclusions and recommendations -- as if people won't imagine as bad or worse if they don't release the report, as if the facts won't come out one way or another anyway.
Would that as much energy went into identifying and preventing problems as goes into covering up the results.
Our leaders seem to suffer from the delusion that they have a choice about what is known. They have no choice. Ultimately, all is known. Their only choice is whether they will forthrightly and publicly address the truth.
Fear is always sad. In this case, particularly so.
#8 Rebecca Matovic on 2010-03-21 05:33
There is absolutely no need to delay the release of this report simply for the purpose of further review. It makes little sense to form a committee to review the report's recommendations before the report is even issued.
There is probably little that's surprising in the report, given what we know already about the depth of the OCA financial scandal - but we, the faithful and clergy of the Church, who have devoted so much time and treasure to bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to the world, deserve to know.
This is totally against the spirit of opennness and accountability which His Beatitude JONAH has brought to OCA since his election - we are not supposed to be a church of secrets, but a church of disclosure. When secrets are kept, the spirit grows weak and the flesh rots from the core; just look at the sex scandals of the Roman Catholic Church to see what happens when an organization keeps secrets from itself and its faithful.
Most Holy Theotokos, save us!
#9 Anonymous on 2010-03-21 16:02
I am quite sure this is all about law suits. How many more law suits does the OCA want? How many more can it afford? What is necessary is a full-time lawyer brought on board to fight any & all law suits so the "TRUTH" can be exposed. So, who out there wants to volunteer your time & resources toward this effort?
In America, the "TRUTH" can cost dearly!!!
(Editor's note: Not only in America - it cost the prophets and martyrs their lives, not to mention God His Only Son. )
#10 Anonymous on 2010-03-21 20:42
Here's what the Holy Synod needs to do! The report needs to be leaked to someone who will post it on their blog. The Holy Synod will then deny it is the official report. In this manner, the truth will be revealed and there won't be any law suit. Then, the Holy Synod can operate secretly to eliminate the problems & issues!
#11 Anonymous on 2010-03-21 20:46
Bravo! Well, said. Most disturbing is the irony of the Metropolitan's continued call for mutual understanding and forgiveness and the delay.
I love the OCA. But, it's pride has destroyed it. It's assimilation into a potential universal North American Orthodox Church is sad closure to what was founded as vision and leadership through the Holy Spirit. Somewhere, our bishops lost that grace. And, as absent as it may be in this and other administrative decisions, it should not diminish that of the laity, especially as we enter Holy Week.
I would encourage everyone to listen to Fr. Hopko's podcast (archived on iTunes) "When Bishops Disappoint". What has taken place (and continues to take) among the hierarchy is nothing new, but goes back to the very beginning of Christianity, confronted in the writings of St. Paul.
What needs to change though is church immunity to the law. And, I fear, and perhaps I am wrong, that there is serious criminal actions involved which go beyond Canon Law and osmos into Civil.
Just as the sexual abuse headlining the global Roman Catholic Church and Vatican, the OCA must be as transparent as possible in all criminal matters to regain the trust of the laity as a whole.
Thank you for all your work, Mark. God Bless.
#12 Anonymous on 2010-03-21 22:27
Great suggestion about leaking this report. I'm sure the Ochlophobist website would be happy to play Daniel Ellsberg. While the holy.....Pentagon er Synod might not appreciate the illumination, the faithful of the OCA certainly have a right to know the truth no matter how disqueting to the all-mitered.
I am sure the report without a little agitaion from the faithful would probably be released about the same time Bp. Antoun's (#1 Assistant to Metropolitan Philip) committee releases their own findings about the Antiochian's little laundry business.
#13 Kevin Kirwan on 2010-03-22 08:55
While I too would like to hear what is in the report, and most likely it isn't good news, we must be a bit patient here and understand that there are a variety of reasons why a delay might be appropriate. After having read the "final" report it could very well be that there were some technical errors and these have to be fixed with appropriate fact, rather than mistakes. I've been in the business world long enough to know that not everythign that is "final" truly has gotten to a point where it can no longer be improved. For the moment, let's be patient and give them a chance to straighten out the imperfections and get it right. I'd rather have it late, but right, rather than on-time and filled with errors. God's blessings and patience for us all and may we see an appropriate report soon.
(Editor's note: The errata I mentioned earlier, all minor, were "fixed" some time ago. Bishop Nikon and his Committee did a professional and thorough job. To suggest they didn't "get it right" is inaccurate. There may be reasons to delay the report - in which case I would love to hear some valid ones. But "inaccuracies" is not one. )
#14 Sean O'Clare on 2010-03-22 09:54
"I love the OCA. But, it's pride has destroyed it"
This isn't true at all. Apparently you would like to encourage others to leave the OCA. You are an enemy of the OCA. The Antiochians, the Greeks, the Synod, etc. ALL have serious scandals within them. (You don't hear about them.) This issue discussed here, is surely due to wanting not to incur more law suits. I really don't blame our bishops at all!
#15 Anonymous on 2010-03-22 09:59
Churches and other ecclesiastical bodies are generally immune from suit on matters of internal governance which would be covered by the jurisdiction's canon law. However, they are not immune from torts (i.e., suits claiming civil wrongs), including defamation.
The nice thing is that truth is an absolute defense to defamation. To quote His Eminence, the late Archbishop JOB: "Are the allegations true or are they false?" If they are true, then the report should be released without fear for repercussions.
And, ff +HERMAN and Archdeacon Alexei are indeed "lawyering up" because of the findings of the report, it is indeed a dark day for the OCA. We have seen what happens in our Church when the hierarchy "lawyers up" - who can forget that +THEODOSIUS hired Michael Kennedy, a prominent New York City criminal-defense attorney, when +HERMAN made his weak and tentative steps to audit the "Metropolitan's Discretionary Funds? Of course, all Kennedy did was to hire some auditors to look at the documents they were given and say that everything was A-OK, which we now know wasn't.
If the Holy Synod is unwilling take steps to clear OCA of the cancer which still lies beneath its skin, then reunion with ROCOR and the MP makes more and more sense... that path has its own difficulties, but OCA cannot continue on its current path, lest it rot from within.
(Editor's note: As one who was there, anonymous, I can tell you +Herman made no steps to "audit" anything. The facts, as indicated in the SIC report, show that he collaborated with Kennedy and the CPA's he hired to review the files he offered them. It was sham, from start to finish. I am all for giving people credit where credit is due, but I am not for rewriting history.)
#16 Anonymous on 2010-03-22 10:37
"We finally have a synod of bishops we can look to without disgust welling up in our throats"
Speak for yourself...I got something more than just disgust welling up in mine...someone pass the barf bag.
Moses the Tlingit
#17 Moses on 2010-03-22 10:44
And what makes you so sure ROCOR and the Moscow Patriarchate are without their woes, scandals, troubles and skeletons in closets, no less than the OCA?
#18 Gregory on 2010-03-22 13:13
Gregory, I was referring to the letter written by Kennedy to HERMAN in which he said that he was "personal counsel" to THEODOSIUS and laying out the whitewashed audit. I wasn't attempting to rewrite history - I obvious didn't have all the facts. This scandal has been going on for longer than I've been an Orthodox Christian, and it's pretty complex, so I apologize.
But returning to the original issue - why is this issue clouded with so much secrecy? Even JONAH's opening remarks were done in closed session. What did he have to say that couldn't be reprinted - that OCA's counsel had been contacted by personal counsel to HERMAN and Archdeacon Alexei and that litigation was imminent? That referrals to law enforcement were going to be made?
#19 Anonymous on 2010-03-22 15:07
I have to agree with Fr. Reeves. If the MC, which includes a rather powerful team of lawyers, saw the report and didn't have a problem with it being made public, what's the hold up?
As another poster has already pointed out and it should be no surprise to anyone, Metr. Herman used the funds of the monastery as he wanted and he let his archdeacon do whatever he wanted, including open a couple of very questionable jewelry business, one in Honesdale and another I believe in Philadelphia.
The damage is done and the faithful have a right to know what happened. God has been merciful enough to bring to St. Tikhon's a wonderful new abbot. Many years to Fr. Sergius, a very smart and humble man who has worked very hard to sort out all of this mess.
Thank you Mark for continuing to apply pressure in the form of this website. Stall tactics are simply going to inflame this situation. Metropolitan Jonah and the Holy Synod really should release the report.
#20 Anon. on 2010-03-22 16:38
Everybody knows the important stuff already anyway, right, Mark? I would bet they are probably bracing for another lawsuit.
(Editor's note: Define "important". There was much in the Report I did not know - perhaps you are better informed than I, though. As for lawsuits, I will repeat what I wrote a few days ago. Does anyone else find it amazing that there would be talk of a man who has spent his life "serving" the Church, and his right hand man, about now "suing" the Church they claimed to be "serving" all these years? Makes one wonder, no? )
#21 pobrecita on 2010-03-22 16:55
I've seen your comments on Voices from Russia. It seems the real reason you (and the so-called "Barbara-Marie") hate Metropolitan Jonah is because the metropolitan happens to be an American who has the nerve to stand up for Orthodox teaching on moral sexual behavior. That's what is really nauseating. Herman was fine, even though he robbed the church, because he was really Orthodox, he was "one of us," unlike Metropolitan Jonah and all of us American mutts. May God save us from such "Orthodoxy".
#22 pobrecita on 2010-03-22 17:59
No, I can't claim to be better informed than you, I'm afraid. I'm nothing special. But I'll bet you know the percentage of the OCA budget that goes towards its legal expenses - and you would also know they would be legitimately concerned about anything that might bring on more lawsuits.
I appreciate you tossing pebbles at the OCA administration's window in the middle of the night to keep them on their toes, but please try to remember that this situation is quite different from Herman trying to sweep Kondratick's thievery under the rug while skimming some off for himself.
Yes, I find it appalling that so-called servants of the Church have been robbing it instead, and would dare to file lawsuits against their victims. It is staggering and shameful. But the basics of what happened and who did it are public knowledge. I can live with the OCA keeping the report under wraps for a bit, until they can figure out how to deal with the consequences. If they keep on not releasing it for an unreasonable period of time, I will gladly join you with a torch and pitchfork outside the Syosset chancery. But it would be nice to cut them a bit of slack - a month? a week or two? - before gathering the angry mob.
#23 pobrecita on 2010-03-22 18:21
Christians speaking out against the TRUTH? What the . . . .??????
What kind of upset down world are we living in when Christians are afraid the Truth will be too costly? Jesus died for the Truth, proclaiming it, and bringing light to the darkness, and now 2000 years later His Church and members of the Church actually believe that money is more important than Truth? At least you're open about it and I give you credit for that. But good gracious, I'm practically speechless.
#24 Chuck Shingledecker on 2010-03-23 07:59
I simply can't imagine what happened at the bookstore can be any worse than what we already know happened in the church as a whole, not to mention the land deals etc. involving the monastery. We're always warned about the dangers to ourselves personally in confessing our sins incompletely or insincerely.
Many of us want to continue doing business with the bookstore, and it would be very confidence-inspiring to think our bishops have identified the problems and begun to solve them.
#25 Morton on 2010-03-23 09:08
Are none of these people subject to ecclesiastical discipline? I was under the impression some of them were at least nominal monks. Why could not their monastic superiors simply order them to desist? I am perhaps being simple-minded, but that is my understanding of how things work when one is a monk.
#26 Morton on 2010-03-23 09:15
Like Pobrecita, I am inclined to give them a bit more time. Those who are criticizing Metropolitan Jonah should understand that he is just the Presiding Bishop and, although his words and opinions should be accorded additional weight, he is still the first among equals. Also, Canon 34 is clear in that in all weighty matters the Holy Synod should be unanimous. Thus, let us cool our heels and temper our words for now. I think that it would be a tragedy for the Church if the report is buried or altered. I do not think that it is such a big deal if the publication of the report is delayed for a few months.
(Editor's note: The issue appears to be moot. News follows.)
#27 Carl Kraeff on 2010-03-23 10:03
Maybe you need to re-read the posts over on that blog? You seem confused. Then after you are done doing that, go over to POKROV and talk to them about "Jonahs nerve" regarding "moral" sexual behavior...delusional man, to say the least...
#28 Moses on 2010-03-23 10:50
Anonymous, I was referring to your statement "reunion with ROCOR and the MP makes more and more sense." I obviously don't understand what you mean. That the secrecy on the part of the OCA synod of bishops is leading to reunion with ROCOR and the MP? Or that reunion with ROCOR and the MP would do away with such secrecy. If it's the latter, that's very naive. Neither ROCOR or the MP have been models of transparency any more than the OCA has.
#29 Gregory on 2010-03-23 17:19
Mark, your words are very true. Why would a monk of 40-years, bishop of 30 and Metropolitan of 5 retain a lawyer to defend himself if he does anticipate potential civil action?
What a shame. Yes, other churches have scandals. But, the OCA continues to demonstrate that it cannot govern itself. This is not to lead anyone away from it. One needs only to look what the scandals and lack of leadership has done to the local parishes.
There was a time in my diocese when my parish and many, many others served services every day of Holy Week and many, many more saints days than the majors and Major Feasts. There was a time when I remember going to Liturgy every Sat and Sun. This year, my priest said to me, "Why bother?" Imagine that, Mark. He's having services beginning W and even skipping The Service of Holy Unction. No Thurs morning service. Right to the 12-Gospels, 2 services Holy Friday and skipping Sat morning. Might as well be a Roman Catholic parish. And, there is no one to question or supervise him. Same with other churches OCA and not in my area.
What makes the lack of leadership and scandals of all churches profound perhaps most to me is that today, more than ever, we need the church. Terrorism, job pressures, family, etc. compounded by ceaseless bombardment of the media. We need holy sanctuary.
But, perhaps too, this is God's test. And, those who love Him, will continue to do so, and no matter what, keep the days.
End the closed sessions and be forthright. How long before +Jonah retains his own lawyer, if not already?
(Editor's note: One can only hope, and I sincerely do, that our current Metropolitan is made of different stuff than his immediate predecessors, and will not emulate their sad mistakes. As for lack of services and holy sanctuary, I am sorry for your loss. Many of us in the OCA are still enjoy a robust liturgical life if we so desire. Sadly, most of us are too busy to partake of the wonders of Holy Week. I would venture there is not a person who ever attended one of our seminaries, who, upon experiencing Holy Week for the first time with all the services, beautifully sung, did not count it among the most incredible experiences of their spiritual lives. Sad, but most of us don't even take what we can get, let alone feast on what is possible...)
#30 Anonymous on 2010-03-23 17:21
Mr Stokoe may not get everything right, but unlike your friend, he does not publish outright lies or deliberately slander innocent people. I felt his indignation was premature, and I hope he is relieved that the report is available and was not buried as he feared it might be.
"Barbara-Marie," on the other hand, is in need of serious help. I know people mostly read that blog as entertainment, but I see no need for myself or anyone else to intentionally permit that evil to enter into his or her life by reading it.
#31 pobrecita on 2010-03-27 19:11
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