Tuesday, September 26. 2006
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So given this, are well all in agreement that Herman whould be removed?
Where are the authorities on this? I cannot for the life of me understand why the IRS has not engaged. It might be time to petition some outside agency to come in and once and for all end this scandal.
As I mentioned yesterday, fiche has copies of all of the financials, so in all reality rebuilding a framework of the financials should be but a few requests away.
It's so unfortunate, but as I've stated before the organization had a arrogant tone about it at the top, ESPECIALLY when it came to talking about finances (from personal experience). I knew years ago when they did not want to take interest in parish financial questions, that something must be awry.
Eventually, when they take the fall (and they will...the train is coming down the tracks too fast to stop)...it could not happen to a more deserving group of people....
#1 Bob H on 2006-09-26 05:02
When will this all end? when we could just move on and go to church? This is hurting all of us and personal lives. Let us move on.
Stop pitting priests against each other this is a shame. This is not journalism, this is a vendetta.
Deeper and deeper they dig their hole!
It becomes an abyss,
Which swallows them all!
#3 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2006-09-26 05:34
The emails are downright shocking.
It should now be obvious to everyone -- even the most naive -- that the Metropolitan is just as much at the center of this as Fr. Robert Kondratick.
Yet the Metropolitan continues to maintain his innocence, and he tells everyone that he told Proskauer Rose "that the investigation should go anywhere – including myself."
Is there anyone in the OCA naive enough to believe that? The Metropolitan won't show the Metropolitan Council the Proskauer Rose enagagement letter, won't let the Metropolitan Council talk to the Proskauer Rose attorneys, and as far as we know, Proskauer Rose intends to send its report directly to the Metropolitan and not to anyone else. Is there anyone too blind to see the conflict of interest?
Anyone who had read the OCA Statute knows that the Metropolitan Council has the duty and responsibility to handle all legal matters, including the Proskauer Rose investigation. And yet the Metropolitan is keeping the Metropolitan Council in the dark in violation of the statute he is responsible for upholding.
Months ago I warned that the Prokauer Rose was a waste of time and money. I am more convinced of that that ever before. The Prokauser Rose investigation is and always was the Metropolitan's ace in the hole.
The report will have no credibility whatsoever. Why? Because the Metrpolpolitan controls all of the information that Proskauer Rose reviews. Because only the Metropolitan knows excatly what Proskauer Rose is doing. Because Proskauer Rose reports only to the Metropolitan.
The Rock emails are a disgrace, and yet this seems only the tip of the iceberg.
#4 Robert Vasilios Wachter, Esq. on 2006-09-26 07:29
I have read both the Rock e-mails and Mr. Stokoe's conclusions/editorializings on them and have difficulty matching the two. He claims that they show knowing complicity by Met. Herman in a cover up. I do not see that on the face of these messages, or in a fair interpretation of them. Rather I think I see the pretty clear implication (the reference to "lobbying" Met. Herman for example, and to "Fr. Bob "catching on," or to what Fr. Bob should tell Met. Herman) that Met. Herman himself was being waltzed around and manipulated, and passing on what others had cooked up to feed him. If I am missing something here I am sure Mr. Stokoe will be quick to correct me, but for now I think his interpretation of the Rock e-mails standing alone is unfair to Met. Herman.
#5 Fr. George Washburn on 2006-09-26 07:49
So where are we?
It is clear that the first response back in 1999 was to deny everything, fire or push out anyone calling for an accounting, and cook up some contrived documentation to make it appear that things had been looked at and dealt with, so everyone could go back to business as usual. It is clear that the same "window dressing" approach continues today. It is clear that Metr. Herman has been an integral part of covering this up from the beginning. And despite his abundant knowledge of Fr. Kondratick's abuses, Metr. Herman made no move to control or remove the chancellor until public pressure forced him to make a scapegoat out of Fr. Bob in a desperate ploy to save his own skin.
Yes, that's harsh -- but is there any other possible reading of the facts? Through it all, I'm sure the Metropolitan sees all his actions as somehow "for the good of the church" -- but doesn't this perverse understanding of what constitutes "the good of the church" condemn him as unfit to lead as surely as the financial issues themselves?
How do we move forward?
First, we need to keep the pressure on. This website is essential. Writing to the Metropolitan Council is essential. Witholding of assessments is essential [where possible, and it won't be possible for many parishes because of where they are located]. If anyone who is concerned with these issues continues to be a FOS member, now is the time to withdraw. Will any of this lead anywhere? I don't know. But that's not a reason to stop.
What about the government? I wouldn't hold my breath on this one. Yes, we have a statute, but the government has a strong aversion to meddling in the internal affairs of churches, and our status as a hierarchical church gives them a blanket reason not to. The Metropolitan's assertion that the monies in question were used appropriately at the discretion of his predecessor as first hierarch is likely to be enough for the government. The IRS might have an interest in pursuing Fr. Bob and others who benefitted, but a lot of the worst abuses happened more than seven years ago, and I doubt they'd audit that far back. In the middle of 1999 Fr. Bob feared going to jail. By 2000, with the support of key people, he felt confident that protection had been devised and no longer felt threatened. That says a lot about the legal recourses here. They did this well and with clever counsel.
It may take years for this to play out and for real change to happen in the administration [or something could break at any time and shift things in a shorter timeframe -- but that's hard to anticipate and I personally don't see a way to engineer it]. So in the meantime, it's important that certain things don't happen.
It is essential that people concerned about these issues not become embittered and turn away from the church.
It is essential that people who advocate different approaches to dealing with these issues not turn on each other.
It is essential that those who care about these issues not behave in ways that allow those who would bury the issues to paint us as "enemies of the church."
And it is also essential that we each find positive things to do, both inside and outside the church. Support a mission parish that needs help. Increase donations to IOCC or OCMC or one of the seminaries. Give directly to some need that you become aware [one was recently discussed in another thread of these comments].
It would be a great thing if it became known that needs that are discussed here receive a prompt, generous response -- that would testify to the fact that those who read and post here seek to build up the church, not tear it down.
#6 Rebecca Matovic on 2006-09-26 07:58
I was particularly bothered by the fact that a bishop of the Orthodox Church would say that he was guilty of nothing but kindness and trust, particularly in light of everything that has been revealed. Who can say such a thing? What would any of us say to a person who came to confession with that attitude?
His interview in general was discouraging, and might I add insulting. It also reveals a continuing set of fallacies that have been present in this problem from the beginning.
The first fallacy is that "We can't know anything until the investigation is completed." Metropolitan Herman said in the interview, "My point here is that we cannot act on allegations without proof. We need to wait for the outcome of the Proskauer Rose investigation."
Yet we already have the word of a previous OCA audit, which could not have been more clearly stated: "The OCA’s accounting firm Konsen & Hostelley LLP of Independence, Ohio, recorded 'As directed by His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman , [emphasis added] the Chancery transferred $62,997 of temporarily restricted funds in 2003, $469,017 in 2002 and $98,461 in 2001 to meet current obligations of the Chancery.' ”
Furthermore, one need only to have read the last issue of the OCA paper to discover that hundreds of thousands of dollars are "owed" to nearly all the charitable and missionary accounts of the OCA. We do not need to wait for the PR report to know that our Church has been pillaged. The idea that we won't know anything until the report comes out is fallacy.
The second fallacy revolves around Metropolitan Herman's overused metaphor that the Church can be compared to a sick Mother, and the rest of us are her family. In his interview, +Herman says, "In a normal family, someone does something wrong – so should everything fall apart?" Not that the metaphor of a family is wrong entirely, but it has been sorely misused to cloud the reality of the situation and defend the status quo for the guilty.
Not so long ago, in his Lenten Address, Metropolitan Herman used a similar metaphor, writing, "If a loved one in your family were suffering in pain or ravaged by some disease, each of you would come to their aid with every possible human and spiritual resource. Our Holy Mother, the Church, has been ravaged by an illness that has taken a serious toll."
Who wouldn't agree that nearly all of us would come to the aid of a sick relative? I disagree, however, that our church is ravaged by some random illness or disease. Our Church has been ravaged by abuse , and domestic abuse at that. The fact that many of us are trying to force the abusers to vacate the premises is precisely the action that +Herman calls for: "to come to her aid with every possible human and spiritual resource."
Our Church is actually rather healthy. It is merely our administration that is ill, for it was our administration that has waged a campaign of domestic abuse against the Church for two decades. Now our Mother finally wants out of this abusive relationship and is looking for a husband who will give up his life for her as Christ did the Church. Those of us who oppose the current administration do not want to harm our Mother -- far from it! We are the ones using every "human and spiritual resource" to protect her from those who have shown themselves to have already abused her.
This leads us to a third fallacy, which is the equating of the Church with the central administration itself. This was never made more clear than when Metropolitan Herman dismissed the former Chancellor for an unpublished attack against himself. Metropolitan Herman said that an attack against himself was equal to an attack against the whole church. This is a premise with which I disagree, but a premise under which our administration operates.
It would have been far better for Metropolitan Herman to have dismissed our former Chancellor saying, "I have seen the videotape of what many could interpret as attempting extortion of funds from the children of Beslan, and this is behavior unfitting a Christian, let alone a Chancellor; you are hereby dismissed."
Metropolitan Herman has admitted to seeing the videotape, calling it "damaging." Yet in answer to the interview question, "Were there cover-ups of immoral, incompetent and criminal behavior?", he states, "There have been no cover-ups on my part." Why then was the former Chancellor not immediately dismissed, to say nothing of being reappointed to his post some 7 months later?
Yet another fallacy is that we can take our Metropolitan at his word. On the one hand, he says, “Every Orthodox Christian, having received the Holy Spirit, may properly express concern for the Church, discuss the Church’s challenges and needs, and suggest insights and answers to the challenges found by the Church." Yet in this interview, he openly admits, "I only silenced priests in my own Diocese. I suggested to others to be silent for the good of the church." Many of us would like to know which one is true.
I still to this day cannot believe that one has to write things like this about our own Church, about the Lord's Church, in order to protect her.
May God have mercy on us, and may He purify us the way He purified Israel from the corruption inflicted by Eli's sons.
Priest Christopher Wojcik
#7 Priest Christopher Wojcik on 2006-09-26 07:58
Re the microfiche records of bank transactions, I believe those are kept for only 7 years? That would take us back to 1999 or 2000, but time is moving on, so that each year that passes, we lose the access to the records of one of the earlier years in question.
Those memos from Richard Rock are remarkable. Going beyond the tone and content, I am asking just who is this person, this Richard G. Rock (Richard G. Diroma?) Yes, I know he was a Roman Catholic vestment maker, and before that a parochial school teacher, and since that, entrepreneur extraordinaire, but how did it come to pass that he seems to have been, for all practical purposes, directing the affairs of the OCA from behind the scenes? There seem to be connections with his enterprises involving our hierarchs and administrative clergy that have not yet been made clear. Just like everything else with this squalid tale, the more we learn, the more questions arise. Cate
#8 Cate on 2006-09-26 08:48
To Subdeacon John Martin.
Your recent post suggests a way out of the quagmire we find our church in: "All the diocesan bishops resign....., etc". I tend to agree with everything you wrote after that sentence, BUT how do we get them to resign? Unless they do, the rest of your scenario does not work. Can SCOBA make them resign? The OCA bishops themselves do not seem inclined to voluntarily resign. In fact, they are, at best, paralyzed. Do you know how the bishops can be made to resign? Does anyone?
#9 Eugenie Osmun on 2006-09-26 09:30
Doesn't it seem that Metropolitan Herman intends to tough it out? So the question is: when and how does 'push' come to 'shove'?
if you have an answer, let me know how i can help.
#10 don kmetz on 2006-09-26 10:53
The articles I have on Richard Rock all indicate that he is (or at least was) Roman Catholic. Does anyone know for a fact whether he is an Orthodox convert, or not?
Melanie Jula Sakoda
I doubt any Orthodox Christian in his/her right mind is enjoying what is going on. This is an extremely painful process and it only gets worse from day to day. However, it is completely unfair to blame Mark personally or the Internet as a forum (as the Metropolitan likes to do). The fault is NOT with the whistleblowers and the reporters. The fault is with the perpetrators of the abuse of our trust and our obedience. Please stop pointing fingers at those who have brough this mess to light. Hidden trash heaps fester and stink no less under the covers.
If you want to "just go to church" and "move on", this is your choice. Everybody is entitled to their personal choice, but every choice has its consequences. When we discover that we have an OCA in name only, that it is completely financially and morally bankrupt, it will be the consequence of our lack of collective stewardship, and there will be no one to blame but ourselves. The parishioners of many Roman Catholic churches that "just went to church" and are suddenly finding themselves without a parish because their mother church is forced to "downsize" to recover from its losses are bearing the price of "don't hear, don't see, don't tell". Is that where you want to be?
#12 Inga Leonova on 2006-09-26 12:06
My appeal would indeed require voluntary resignations. I can find no way in the statutes for the laity to force the resignations of hierarchs.
My proposal is based on the fact that those with integrity have nothing to fear from an ecclesiastical court, particularly ones comprised of peers from other jurisdictions.
Given the choice that most of us can only vote with our pocketbooks and our feet, the alternative leaves the bishops with no (or few) faithful to lead.
The only thing the Metropolitan and a few of the hierarchs can appeal to is obedience. I would deeply appreciate someone defending a blind obedience to hierarchs from a theological position or through Holy Tradition. It is obvious to me such obedience is expected by the hierarchs, yet apparently their teaching ministry in regards to such obedience has failed miserably. Perhaps we need to offer them the opportunity to explain why such obedience is necessary for our salvation. I'm willing to admit if I'm wrong.
The only obedience that will matter is our love for one another. I love the Church too much to allow the cancer to continue to grow. The surgery will be painful, but it must move forward, lest the Church dies. Our survival chances decline daily.
Subdeacon John Martin
Martin D. Watt, CPA (Inactive)
#13 Marty Watt on 2006-09-26 12:50
I don't know if Richard G. Rock is Orthodox or not, but I DO know that he was an invited guest of the OCA at the last (13th) All American Council held just last summer.
Barry A. Sabol
St Nicholas Orthodox Church
#14 Barry A. Sabol on 2006-09-26 12:56
Frankly Father, if you don't "get it" now you never will! The proof is overwhelming.
#15 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2006-09-26 13:58
In answer to your question, SCOBA has absolutely no canonical or statutory authority to intervene in the external and/or internal affairs of any of its member jurisdictions. A given jurisdiction is free to invite SCOBA hierarchs to assist in, e.g., constituting the canonically requisite number of hierarchs necessary to try a Bishop or presbyter. But on its own initiative, SCOBA cannot intervene.
Igumen Philip (Speranza)
#16 Anonymous on 2006-09-26 14:44
...I have not donated one cent to my local Parish or to the OCA since January, and I do not feel guilty about it.
The extra money comes in handy since I am on a limited retiree’s income. Although I do use some of this extra money to make copies of these articles for distribution to members that don’t own computers.
#17 Ande on 2006-09-26 15:52
We will all entangle ourselves is our dilemma, and NOT see any progress or closure to solving our situation; until federal investigatory bodies are involved!
Complaints of abuse of discretionary funds, malfeasance in that funds were misdirected from their intended purpose and secretly placed in accounts for personal use, etc., must be made by our member CPAs, and lawyers in most of our major cities!
Only when many complaints are received, from those more immenently qualified than I am, will someone act upon it. The specter of so many offices in our nation receiving such complaints and charges of grand larceny, should alarm any of the highest perpetrators!
Nothing less will work, despite the adverse publicity it will entail. It must come to a head and final solution, or many of us communicants will go insane, from the frustration already evident from so many posts.
Blessed Theotokos, "She Who Is Quick to Hear" Save Us!
[Please post this as "anonymous" Mark.]
#18 Anonymous on 2006-09-26 16:39
Yes, “When will this all end?” is a very good question! Yes, “This is hurting all of us” for sure! And yes, we all want to “move on!” Why then, after making these statements of truth, would you turn around and accuse the person…who has stuck his neck out to reveal the truth…of “pitting priests against each other?” I don’t understand how anyone, at this point in time, can side with the current administration. The facts presented thus far tell us that there were some serious crimes committed against the people of Our Church, against those poor and needy that Our Church provides for, and therefore against God Himself! If the priests truly practice what they preach, then they should be able to hear the truth, speak the truth and defend the truth. The priests, and all of us, should be united in truth…in our Lord Jesus Christ!!
I’m sorry you feel the way you do. I personally have not read anything written by Mark that was proven wrong, nor has he ever taken cheap shots at anyone. He has been extremely professional and thorough in his reporting! Thanks again Mark and God bless you and protect you!!
Your sister in Christ,
(Parishioner of Holy Resurrection Church, Palatine, IL)
#19 Helen O'Sullivan on 2006-09-26 18:10
I agree. These messages back and forth between Fr. Kondratick and Richard Rock are amazing. I too, would like to know how those two ever got so chummy. I guess it had to do with the vestment making company Rock was affiliated with?
What I would like to ask is, if anyone who has read these emails between Fr. Kondratick and Richard Rock can say they wholeheartedly believe Metropolitan Herman was personally involved in any of this?
I've read these messages 5 times and I see NO evidence of his involvement, but rather, his being manipulated and deceived by a very clever, pathetic person who needed to cover his tracks so as not to get caught.
Now, before anyone writes back on the attack mode, I AM ONLY REFERRING TO THE ROCK EMAILS IN THIS POST AND NOTHING ELSE.
Cate, this next comment is not directed at you, but rather, I'm dismayed at why certain people want to turn this whole thing around by blaming + Herman and see that he resigns.
Do I think he should be more forthcoming with information? Absolutely!!!
Do I think he had any involvement with the missing 9/11 monies, enormous credit card bills, ADM monies, Discretionary accounts, disappearance of files, shredding of information, deliberate deception of the Holy Synod, MC and faithful by creating and providing misleading financial documentation to make it appear all was okay, etc, etc. -----
If anyone has read what Protodeacon Eric and Paul Hunchak have said AND also read the Rock emails, is there ANY DOUBT whatsoever who is to blame for this mess?????
What more information do we need?
It's time for the real culprit to face some very serious consequences for his actions.
#20 Michael Geeza on 2006-09-27 07:07
How do you get them to resign?? STOP SENDING YOUR ASSESSMENTS. They cannot come into your church and take your money.
Without money (their lifeblood), the virus dies.
#21 Bob H. on 2006-09-27 07:26
Mr. Tobin opines that if I don't get it now I never will. Perhaps.
The answer may depend somewhat on just what it is I am supposed to get. In so much of life we pretend to be objective examiners of the truth, but in reality are doing little more than searching for evidence to back the conclusion we are predisposed to reach. It is coming out more clearly in the political news now, for example, that the administration did something of this sort ("weapons of mass destruction, etc.") when readying the public to approve the war they wanted in order to drive Saddam out of power in Iraq. We should not be fooled into thinking that sort of macrocosmic, sound-bite, media driven deception practiced on a gullible public cannot happen more microcosmically on an internet discussion, or in our own parishes or hearts. How many times in our lifetimes have we seen bad rulers overthrown only to be replaced by an equal and opposite (and even worse) reaction?
My point simply was that after carefully readin the e-mails, in my opinion Mr. Stokoe was putting too harsh a spin on the Rock e-mails vis-a-vis Met. Herman, perhaps for some of the conscious or subconscious reasons I am alluding to.
Now that people are mad at the ways in which their trust in the OCA central leadership seems to have been abused over the years, it is tempting to choose scapegoats and "pile on" the chosen. In my own heart, knowing my own human tendency to do so, I am trying to say "Not so fast" every now and then. This is not because I want to excuse or oppose anyone, but just out of general cussedness and the sad experience of how the pendulum can be made to swing too far by both defenders and attackers.
I was myself for some years in an assistant's role in the leadership of a non-OCA parish with multiple staff/clergy. I saw first hand how effectively a manipulative leader could ply others with a combination of subtle and not-so-subtle pressures to a) do as he wished, b) refrain from questions or criticisms, c) deter others from doing so and d) punish or at least outflank those who did not get the message and dared to ask inconvenient questions.
Am I saying Met. Herman was right to play along with the Met. Theodosius administration in the way he did or to accept the explanations given in the face of troublesome warning signs to the contrary? No. I am just saying that in a Byzantine (my sincerest apologies to Russophiles who might want to claim honors in this department) institution like that, few if any have the courage, time, energy, backing, vision, will and patience to undertake a thorough house-cleaning from a position of mid-level power.
I am saying it is entirely comprehensible to me that a busy older man with a very full plate of other responsibilites already, when suddenly thrust into a temporary appointment under both a cloud and competing pressures, should have refrained from undertaking what he surely must have understood as the potential dismantling and overhaul of the entire OCA Curia. How obvious that all the forces at the disposal of others would be marshalled to resist, and even to destroy the threat? In my own situation, lacking evidence and knowing that whatever evidence there might be was under the firm control of those who did not want it used, I elected until very late in the game to try to stay on board and work for good from within rather than starting what I knew would surely be a destructive war.
The whistleblowers have my respect for telling the truth, not giving up, and putting up with the consequences however imperfectly they may have done so. Just so I am disposed to respect an old man who, despite his own limitations and the seemingly Shakesperean ebbs and flows of jealousies, passions and agendas going on around him, seemingly tries to navigate the best course he can for the church through the reefs and shoals.
His choices in so doing are not above question, and I do not object to the introduction of any real evidence that a) he was more than too trusting, naive and kindly, or b) he is not doing the right things now. Those chips can and must fall where they may. My point was that carefully read the Rock e-mails do not constitute evidence of knowing complicity by His Eminence as ocanews.com seemed to me to be suggesting, but rather evidence that a cabal of self-promoters and self-defenders, bolstered by a network of legal and accounting experts, threw up a smokescreen that was intended to and did obscure Met. Herman's vision as it did others.
Hence my conclusion that on this e-mail evidence we should not drag out tte tumbrils, sharpen the guillotine, or turn over Church leadership to Madame DeFarge or Dr. Marat just yet.
It may be that the ancien regime will be swept away by this Revolution, but let's learn from history and not get so carried away with the hue and cry that we kid ourselves about what this or any other particular piece of evidence does or does not show.
But hey, maybe I don't get it.
#22 Fr. George Washburn on 2006-09-27 08:10
While you may not be comfortable giving to the local parish or the OCA, please do not quit giving!
The reason we give, and (hopefully) give the first portion, to God is to acknowledge Him as the source of all the benefits we have. In history, it was the first portion of the harvest, the first of the new births of livestock, etc. that were offered to God, in trust that God would provide the remainder to meet their needs.
So, please continue to give somewhere! Perhaps to OCMC or IOCC, or (perhaps more importantly) to needs you identify in your local community -- homeless shelter, soup kitchen, food bank. God doesn't need the money -- but it is for our benefit that we give.
Subdeacon John Martin
Martin D. Watt, CPA (Inactive)
#23 Marty Watt on 2006-09-27 10:14
Did he ever check the source of these emails for approval to print OR for verification if they are authentic OR did he even go as far as to make sure that these were not printed from an internet cafe by someone prove Metropolitan Herman's role in this? WE NEVER hear from the other side. Are they ever contacted for an interview OR is it just Paul Hunchak, Eric Wheeler's assistant who is collaborating all of this?
It's just too one sided!
Randolph R. Moote
#24 Anonymous on 2006-09-27 11:03
Bob, you wrote, "Where are the authorities on this? I cannot for the life of me understand why the IRS has not engaged."
To report suspected tax fraud to the IRS all of us can go to the IRS website, fill out form 3949-A, and mail it in.
I have not "arrived" in the sense of becoming like Christ, so I hesitate to speak. Here goes, anyway. May the Lord, have mercy.
It is my understanding that we cannot become like Christ apart from suffering. If we do not suffer, we cannot become like Christ. With that as my frame of reference, if someone wishes to engage in this debate, the fear of suffering should not stop them.
If you REALLY believe that the OCA administration took money that was intended to go to 9/11 victims, take 30 minutes, fill out this form and mail it in to the IRS. I did.
If you really believe that the OCA administration took money that was intended to go to widows and orphans, take 30 minutes and write to Protodeacon Peter, write to your parish priest, or write to your Metropolitan Council member. I wrote to Pdn Peter. I am not in the OCA so I cound not do the latter.
If you think that Metropolitan Herman is a criminal, have you told your parish priest. Have you asked your priest to talk to your bishop? I did.
I wonder how things might have proceeded differently if more people had spoken up, lent their names and credibility to the struggle, and not been afraid.
If you do so, please remember that everything has to be tempered in love. We cannot hate one another.
We should speak up and not fear suffering. This life is short. Eternity with our Lord awaits.
Protodeacon Brad Matthews
St Peter the Apostle Serbian Orthodox Church
#25 Protodeacon Brad Matthews on 2006-09-27 11:54
Dear Ande, The money we give to support our parishes is needed to maintain our priests and their families as well as the building in which the Liturgy is celebrated Sunday after Sunday. You can ask your priest to withold your Fair Share which does go to Syosset but to withhold money from your own parish is really a step toward closing down the church where you have worshipped Christ and where many others do as well. Please rethink your decision to refuse to donate to your own parish. I am retired and live on a tiny SS but I want to keep supporting our parish.
#26 Alice Carter on 2006-09-27 14:13
Does it take an "Act of Congress" for any major constructive event to happen in the OCA? There should have been plans known to us faithful quite awhile ago on:
A) How this 1.7 million dollar loan is to be paid back;
B) A Special AAC that should take place, ideally, the summer of 2007 and no later than 2008.
Now: Why have these two events been so hard to accomplish? As some people have suggested on this web site, perhaps it will take the FEDS, which is like an "Act or Congress," to step in andto correct these sinful, gross, and negligent financial and moral wrongs that a handful of bishops seem amazingly paralyzed about.
We can do better than watching continual re-runs of the Keystone Cops.
#27 Patty Schelllbach on 2006-09-27 15:01
Isn't "just moving on" and ignoring everything what has led us all to this?
Now imagine for a second that there is sexual abuse going on in a family for years, would you also advocate to just "move on" and forget out it?
If we consider our church as our family, what has been going on has certainly been abuse. We have been abused by the people we loved and trusted. Not only did these people steal and lie, they lied to us and stole from us -- from their own family.
#28 Timothy on 2006-09-27 15:20
THIS WILL NEVER BE RESOLVED “UNLESS” more of the parishioners in every parish “believe” there is this problem.
1. Most of the people in other parishes that I know of, do not discuss the situation. They bury their heads in the sand, and pretend to be happy.
2. The only way parishioners will get the message is when their local church is low on funds.
3. The only way this will happen is: “WE” all of us must start cutting back our donations (temporarily) to our “LOCAL” churches.
4. This problem could have been taken care of months ago, if “withholding” local parish donations started in early Spring.
5. I’m pretty sure our priest tells the Metropolitan that the people are happy “or” that they don’t care.
6. Otherwise we have just been wasting our time these last nine months. And it will never be fixed.
#29 Ande on 2006-09-27 19:01
First, I would ask you to quit spamming the site. You posted 6 different comments just this evening under six different names, male and female, which indicates you are either attempting to defraud us all; or, you have serious gender issues best discussed on other sites.
As to your questions, yes the e-mails where authenticated. No, they did not come from internet cafe. I would be happy to interview "the other side" whoever you may discern that to be. Certainly I have not been averse to printing reflections from those who disagree with the site: among them Fr. Karlgut, Deacon Danilchick, Fr. Memorich - as well as those who may not disagree, but certainly take issue with many of my positions - such as Fr. Hopko, Fr. Johnson, etc. In fact, you will be able to read another major critic on Monday, next.
I cannot even begin to list the comments "from the other side", however that may be defined, that have been published on this site. From the profound and thought-provoking to the just plain stupid, have all found their way to this site; and both on all sides of the issues before us. I make no apologies for it, for such is one task of this site - to be at least one place where the diversity of opinions can shine forth.
Among those I have asked for interviews are Mr. Kutner (Fr. Kondratick's attorney) - or at least someone pretending to speak for him. I have not interviewed the Metropolitan because Fr. Danilchick already has. I would be happy to interview Fr. Kondratick if you, or someone else, could arrange such. One of the purposes of this website is to serve as a forum, and there are lots of questions that could be asked...
Finally, if you can disprove any document that has been posted on this site - please do so. I have no problem with being corrected.
Otherwise, stand aside stop playing stupid games and be quiet. Let those committed to addressing the problems of the Church deal with it like adults.
- Mark Stokoe
#30 Editor on 2006-09-27 20:46
Good try--excellent spin! I'd hire you as my advocate in a heart beat. I even agree with you and Mr. Geeza that the "emails," in and of themselves, do not constitute a "smoking gun" with respect to the Metropolitan.
Unfortunately, there is a mountain of other evidence, as I said before, that with the emails show a clear pattern of obstruction and obfuscation on his part. There are also the "bodies" that litter the road to and from Syosset--not literally of course (too bad it's not the "good old days")--of individuals who have sought to expose and end the corruption! Remember Deacon Wheeler?!
Whether or not Metropolitan Herman is guilty of corruption or law breaking is for others to ultimately determine--at a minimum he is grossly incompetent and needs to go.
#31 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2006-09-28 06:48
Nobody should stop their giving to the local parish and continue to participate as one of the faithful. If you are at one with Christ and His people that includes your money. If you stop giving, stop going.
As I've mentioned before. Since the OCA assessment is a head tax, the more you give (total $) the smaller the percentage that goes to Syosset. Hence you should give more and put that power in the hands of your priest.
Furthermore, that head tax (assessment) should theoretically be the easiest thing to audit.
Direct appeals to the OCA centrally are another matter.
#32 Symeon Jekel on 2006-09-28 09:31
Your logic is specious. Starving your home church does not hurt anyone else but the people sitting next to you during worship. No one is going to react to such an action by attacking Syosset, they will attack you. Then, your civil war will sap any will on anyone's part to help solve the crisis in the national church.
#33 Paula on 2006-09-28 10:17
Robert, you are right. We are given the impression that PR is working for us -- the whole church. They are certainly being paid with our money! But in reality they are working for Syosset.
If PR would work for us we would know exactly what is going on, we would be shown all the records, all the accounts and nothing would be hidden from us. Yet we are constantly being told "let's just wait for the investigation to end", "just a little bit more", "we'll find out soon, just be patient and don't make too much noise" and other such lies. What is the reason for all this secrecy? Why not let the investigation continue but in the meantime tell us what you know and show us the records!
The answer to all this is that those from Syosset are doing what their attorneys told them to do -- keep quiet, deny everything, and wait it out. It works like a charm! The hope is that after an artificially prolonged investigation (a year or more) everybody will start to get tired of the scandal, people will move on with their lives, Mark will get tired of running the website and everything will be back to normal (or rather to the abnormal normal!).
What really hurts is that not only have we been lied to and our money has been stolen in the past, but now those who did all those things, use more of our money to hire their attorneys to defend against us -- talk about a disfunctional family!
#34 Timothy on 2006-09-28 13:19
Assumption 1: I would hope that you would not wish Abp. Job to resign.
Assumption 2: You get your wish.
Question: Where would you propose we get 12 bishops to replace those who resign?
#35 Michael Strelka, CPA on 2006-09-28 15:05
Are twelve bishops necessary? I am of two minds on this myself.
Sometimes I believe we should have more bishops, the better to manifest the idea that the fundamental expression of the Church is the bishop presiding at the Eucharist surrounded by his presbyterium and the deacons assisting by bringing to his attention the needs of the people. The purpose of more bishops being to enable smaller dioceses that would allow the priests and parishes to see themselves as part of a community, and not just a cog with the diocese representing an alien and unwanted power.
Sometimes, I think we should have fewer bishops given that we are only 20 to 40 thousand. I can see both sides. My point is that it is a question that is still being pondered, and is worth pondering.
There have been some attempts to figure out the right number and right alignment of OCA bishops; the recent merger of Washington with New York/New Jersey was one result.
#36 Ed Unneland on 2006-09-28 18:08
What if your priest is part of the same culture we've seen in Syosset? What if the priest is responsible for slowly destroying the vibrant spiritual and sacramental community he was entrusted with? What if the priest caused the strife, division, and evil to spread and destroy the parish and the sacramental life of the community (one of the most vibrant I had seen), and his bishop and vicar-bishop refuse to do anything to help and simply maintain the status quo? What if the priest abuses his office, lies, and acts unethically and despite multiple cries for help, letters, emails, and petitions, the bishop, the dean, and other priests refuse to help the parish and the people and simply let it wither away?
What if your bishop appointed this incompetent and minimalist priest as a favor to give his buddy (the same priest) a cushy salary and benefits package? What if this priest admitted he is simply "waiting out" his retirement in the parish (roughly 10 years, of which 5 have already expired) and is well connected with the administration? What if this bishop will not lift a finger to help the Orthodox Christians under his care, has rejoiced when families left the parish in dispair, and worse, insults and belittles people who pleaded and cried for his help?
Shall we still then support this abomination also? Shall we use the fruits of our labors blessed by God to support the very person and system tha tis .....making a mockery out of Orthodoxy? Are we supposed to ignore thruth, ignore reality, and ignore evil and just keep on paying? Sorry, this is not Orthodoxy!....
Wake up people, you've been asleep for too long.
Mark, please don't publish my name, I've been attacked and trashed for too long to be able to absorb it much longer. I stand behind the truth and veracity of what I have posted. If anyone cares to find out more, just ask.
#37 Name withheld upon request on 2006-09-29 00:19
Ed- yes, we possibly could have fewer bishops; unless you stop and think about the geographical size of some of our dicoeses: the Midwest stretches from Ohio to North Dakota; the south from Vriginia to Texas; the West from Washington to New Mexico. Canada stretches from Atlantic to Pacific. These bishops are at the point of physical burnout.
So lets assume that we drop it to 6. Again I ask the question: where will you find 6 bishops? The pool of candidates is small. Why do you think we ended up with some of the ones we have right now?
Which brings us to the logical solution: adminitrative unity of all the bishops in North America. You dont need 7 bishops in Chicago.
#38 Michael Strelka, CPA on 2006-09-29 09:32
Your remark about seven bishops in Chicago reminds me of something that crossed my mind when I became Orthodox (which I am sure I've posted elsewhere). The formal name of a National League baseball team is the New York Metropolitans. I realized that there were almost enough Metropolitans (let alone Bishops) in the New York City area to make a side for baseball.
Perhaps Fr. Hopko is right that a bishop per city is not happening right now and that a transitional step would be for the Orthodox bishops who are minded towards unity should simply declare that fact, and then coordinate their efforts in regional groups. (A copy of "Again" has been uploaded to Orthodox Forum on Yahoo. Fr. Thomas is interviewed on the subject of unity in North America.)
#39 Ed Unneland on 2006-09-29 14:49
I am so sorry to hear about the problems in your parish, and I would like to hear more. Feel free to contact me privately at:
You are not alone, I can promise you!
Melanie Jula Sakoda
Dear Name Withheld 16.1,
EXCELLENT REPLY !
There are more and possibly “bigger” problems in the OCA than just the mismanaging of money by the CEO’s.
I have “seen” and also heard of a few cases exactly like you described. The lies I hear from a priest are disheartening. This disease may have spread further than we realize.
I am sure that there are some dioceses that do not have this problem.
After reading replies from Paula and Jekel about one of my recent posts, I strongly considered leaving the church. Your comments revitalized me.
There were one or two of my posts that didn’t get printed. They touched on the same problem. Possibly misplaced by Mark or he may have chosen not to print them, thinking they were a little too strong.
Thanks again, Ande
#41 Ande on 2006-09-29 20:17
Exactly. You are not alone, as Melanie just said, in response to that person who just posted on the travesties that can happen at the local church level. I can take a guess where this is, too. Actually, my husband took a good guess and your description would not be surprising of where we think this is.
I am so glad that so many have had the courage to get up and running this Orthodox Christians for Accountability web site. Too many things need to change for the good of the OCA and Orthodoxy in America in general.
Thanks, Mark, and God bless all of you, for hanging in there with all of this. I and my husband, Fr. Paul, truly appreciate it.
#42 Patty Schellbach on 2006-09-30 14:07
Unfortunately, with slight variations, it could be a number of places.
Even more unfortunate is that even good and talented priests generally have so little episcopal support that they're left to slowly and painfully learn from their own mistakes (or not learn, as the case may be), when a bit of understanding and involvement and oversight (real oversight, not autocratic decrees) could guide them through the learning with less pain for themselves and less trauma for their parishes.
#43 Rebecca Matovic on 2006-10-01 03:09
I was away on vacation or would have responded sooner.
I support your letter that objectively identifies the fact that this church administration has been misappropriating funds since 2001. It is the most critical information we have and it directly identifies some of the baloney of the PR investigation.
However, the truth is, the OCA has been misappropriating far longer than that. Impossible to backup with facts, but the ADM monies got absorbed somewhere and I'm sure Fr. Kondratick knows where, maybe even Metropolitan Herman has an idea or two, but he was certainly an afterthought to the issues on the calendar alone.
The entire Synod voted to allow discretionary accounts in 1999. Is Herman fully responsible for that decision?
I support the fact that Metropolitan Herman is as or more responsible for the mismanagement of the church as any of the rest of the group today and he should be ashamed he hoped for so long for a bailout that didn't come. He has accepted the responsibility and that is something few leaders do when things go miserably wrong.
I cannot comprehend why you and many others give the Metropolitan full credit, though. This thinking is the same thinking that got us here in the first place and the same thinking that would allow another administration the same latitude for failure.
I think asking for Herman's resignation is a copout. Deserved, perhaps, but a copout.
Rather than making reasonable demands on the right people, which is the long, hard road, thinking a resignation may save the day is wrong.
Our MC representatives could have all written us letters indicating mismanagement since 2001. They could have gone to the Synod, who could have told us about these problems. The truth is our churches governance structure is a mess. It has failed now, it failed under the prior administration, and will fail again unless other measures than one man resigning take place.
Getting a unanimous vote of the Holy Synod to depose a Metropolitan is a joke. The Holy Synod voted to allow discretionary funds that are certainly another part of the same cycle of mismanagement, and they haven't acted to repeal that measure yet even after all of this is brought to light. In fact, even the great revered Bishop Job (holder of the infamous tape I last heard) hasn't asked for that to be repealed.
I respect your disappointments, even anger toward our Metropolitan. I don't understand why you aren't even more angry with our MC representative or your own Bishop. If she/he reported in 2001 that the administration was overhopeful and thought they could get out of a cash shortage in 2002, where would we be today?
The flaw isn't just our Metropolitan's mismanagement. The flaw is the reverance we give to that position. The position is so revered all the people in governance positions feel they are only responsible to it to the point they ask for, rather than demand reasonableness.
I encourage you to ask for smaller, objective measures of Abp. Job, our MC representatives, and even the administration. Objectivity is seeing that budgets are approved, compilations done timely, etc. Seeing that MC representatives report conditions back to the churches they represent.
Unmet, I encourage something far worse than a resignation request or withholding cash. Simply boycott their services and vote for the removal of representatives.
Start at home before looking abroad. The greatest failure thus far is that our MC representative and Bishops have been going along for the ride for years and years and has not behaved in the greater interest of the church they serve. These problems should have been told to us by them long ago.
#44 Daniel E. Fall on 2006-10-01 20:03
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