Sunday, January 29. 2006
Beginning with reactions to Bishop Tikhon, how do you feel or think about the events unfolding here? Please remember to sign all your posts.
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A comment made in the 1.28.06 story on The Continuing Mystery of the OCA 9/11 Special Appeal Fund caught my attention. The statement that - Since there were no “active” Orthodox Christian (sic) among the victims of 9/11, etc...although a little ambiguous, brought to mind my buddy and best friend in the Army who perished in the holocaust of the World Trade Center. He was Anthony Savas of Astoria, Queens, New York, who was of Greek descent. We served together in Korea in 1951 -1952 and had the honor and opportunity to share PASCHA of 1952 with the Greek Battalion in Korea that year. I could not let it pass the no “active” Orthodox Christians were among the victims of 9/11. May his Memory be Eternal.
#1 Andrew Wakuluk on 2006-01-29 15:58
His Grace posted similar comments on the Indiana List. The archive of this list is publicly accessible.
Or, if the link doesn't work, go to
Click on "January 2006, Week 4"
Click on "OCANews.org: The Continuing Mystery of the OCA 9/11 Special Appeal Fund"
and finally, click on the post labelled "From: Bishop Tikhon"
Melanie Jula Sakoda
While I don't have a copy of the OCA document you referenced in the OCANews article, on page 16 of "Funding the Vision," the OCA Treasurer's Report to the 13th All American Council, the actual income for appeals in 2001 was given as $751,486.15. However, the projected income for 2002 was only $490,000.00. The explanation given was that "The Appeals income should return to 'normal' levels after a large spurt caused by the outpouring of support after 9/11." FWIW, the difference between the two figures is $261,486.15.
Melanie Jula Sakoda
Thanks, Melanie for the reference. It now seems we have three different published figures from the OCA itself.
#4 Editor on 2006-01-29 18:56
I am sorry about your loss. You are correct - the reference in the article was not specific enough. In coming to its decisions on how to disburse the Appeal funds, the OCA Committee was referring to the fact that no "active" OCA member was lost during the attacks.... Thank you for sharing the information about your friend with us. May his memory be eternal!
#5 Editor on 2006-01-29 19:09
Regarding the latest article on the 9/11 funds. With each passing day, we discover more and more proof of just how serious and dangerous the spiritual crisis at the heart of the OCA administration really is. I experienced glimpses of this personally in trying to seek help, assistance, and corrective action for St. Innocent's Orthodox Church (OCA, Tarzana, CA)and community. It seems what I saw, heard, and endured was mere child's play compared with how others who dare ask for truth, honesty, and accountability have been and continue to be treated.
Those of us still living in reality and able to understand the implications of what has happened and continues to happen in the OCA leadership and administration, have a duty before God, our families and friends, and our Holy Orthodox Faith to stand up and speak the truth. We must support those who have the courage to ask the tough questions, demand accountability, and continue to press for integrity, openness, truth, and ethical conduct at all levels of the OCA. Anything less makes us complicit in these events and makes us in turn accountable for having stood silently by and done nothing as this spiritual and financial crisis unfolded. Silence is not an option anymore for anyone who has ears to hear, eyes to see, and common sense to discern the reality of the situation.
Here is the URL for the original appeal:
#7 Ed Unneland on 2006-01-29 20:35
A general remark:
Can someone illuminate us on the reason for the lacuna between 2002 and 2005 in the chronology? My question concerns a perceived chronological lacuna, not an editorial error. I find it odd that nothing of significance occurred during that time, unless there isn't anything that can be substantiated by a paper trail. Perhaps someone can provide an informed response. Many thanks, and let us pray that Christ himself, as the head of the Church to whom all authorities are obedient, will restore peace and order to his wounded and broken body.
#8 M. Denysenko on 2006-01-30 14:14
Our bishop lives very humbly, in a not-very-big rectory that also contains diocesan offices, offices for the parish next door, as well as providing living space for other priests. He drove an old beater of a car for many years, covering this vast diocese that stretches from Ohio to North Dakota. I once heard that one of his fellow bishops had a chauffeur driven Cadillac. Our bishop does not get in on the everlasting European junkets, first-class hotel accommodations, banquets, etc., accounts of which grace the pages of “The Orthodox Church” issue after issue after issue.
I was thoroughly disgusted to read Deacon Wheeler’s allegations about bequests to the OCA being used for purposes other than that for which they were intended. That is both illegal and immoral. And there is still not one peep out of Syosset about what happened to the funds raised in the 9/11 appeal and the other special appeals. This money was given for specific purposes. How was it spent? I think we should all ... contribute only when and where we can be assured that the money will be spent for the specific purpose for which it is raised. No more black hole “discretionary funds.”
Syosset will only get the message when the money stops coming in, sad as that is to say.
#9 Ray Gadke on 2006-01-30 14:32
To the editor:
I have been following the releases on OCAnews.org for some time now.
I am shocked by what I read on your site, but I am upset and angry about the 9/11 donations story.
As I am not a member of the OCA (I am Armenian, and belong to the Armenian Church), I feel there is not much I can do about this particular situation. However, I hope this story is picked up by non-Orthodox news outlets so that this problem is exposed.
I am also furious about what I read on the Orthodox Listserv Site out of the University of Indiana. I think men like Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald - who writes that this whole money mess in the OCA isn't important or a scandal - should be removed from office.
How members of the OCA can tolerate their leadership is beyond me.
Keep up the good (albeit depressing) work.
#10 Karen King on 2006-01-30 14:39
One should not be surprised at Bishop Tikhon's flippancy. He took a similar tack when his cathedral was discovered to be the site of multiple child molestations (ref. www.pokrov.org). It was the Synod's and Syosset's cover-up of this scandal that caused me to lose hope that a moral backbone still existed among the current leadership. How could any red-blooded parent or true pastor participate in the cover-up of such crimes against innocents, no matter what the insurance liabilities were? Sadly, these events occured during the same time frame as this financial scandal. Something is terribly, terribly wrong.
#11 Name Withheld By Request on 2006-01-30 16:54
Dear Faithful in Christ,
There have been so many wonderful postings these last several weeks on this new website of Orthodox Christians for Accountability to give us courage and support for doing the RIGHT THING.
There is absolutely, unequivocally, totally unnecessary, sheer ly horrifying, and horrendous suffering taken on by the faithful and the innocent for the sake of Christ and His church that is happening all across America in the OCA, from small parishes, to the administration, that does not have to be happening in this 21st post-ENRON era.
And I am not being dramatic! I am being truthful!
So much of this suffering can absolutely and unequivocally be avoided and must be avoided so that, as Christ over threw the tables of the money changers and drove them out of the temple, we, too, can be called a house of prayer and not a den of thieves!
This is one of the few instances when Jesus really expressed his anger!!! Let us take heed!!!
So much of the OCA's troubles need to be fixed and totally rehauled, preciscely in terms of finances.
Hooray for these recent Orthodox for Accountability efforts because if we do not get our house in order to 21st Century BEST PRACTICES accounting principles, I doubt there will be any OCA to get in order.
As Pickett was charged by General Robert E. Lee after the atrocious Battle of Gettysburg, "See to your Division," and he responded, General, I have no Division." Will we, too be saying, 'Lord, we have no OCA!'
..... The money changers were one of the few episodes of sinful human activity in the Gospel that Jesus actively just STOPPED. He didn't even try to justify it! HE NEARLY BODILY THREW THEM OUT! THIS MUST GET OUR ATTENTION! Just as we must STOP unsound, counterproductive, and sinful financial principles within our OCA administration.
This Lent has to really move the OCA leaders off their behinds. If this website finally lights the decisive fire, so be it! AMEN!
The audit that is going on now until the end of March is going to produce recommendations. The Bishops and administration can seriously pray this Llent of 2006 to really make a difference once and for all. They CAN take heed of all the recommendations that have been coming through over this web site and make SANITY happen.
THE UTTER NONSENSE OF NOT HAVING SOUND, BEST PRACTICE FINANCIAL PRINCIPALS MUST SIMPLY STOP, just as Jesus drove out the money changers!!! One of His few acts of pure disgust and outrage!!!
When we get the central OCA finances in order, then we may be able to set our sites on working on those small, out of the way, forgotten OCA parishes, the "least of these my brethren" so that so much tangible suffering can stop.
There have been rumors for years that the OCA was in financial trouble.
There is tremendous turth, energy, caring, love, and effort in this web site of Orthodox Christians for Accountability for the OCA to finally get it right. It can. If the administration does reflect upon these issues in this heavently sent Lent of 2006 that is before us, if it does not get it right by the end of the Spring Synod, I will not blame one person for going to the legal authorities.
Let Lent 2006 be the OCA's dramtatic CRISIS OF CORRECTION, our Indonesian Tsunami and Hurrican Katrina of CORRECTION, HOPE, and BEST PRACTICES for a truthful, sound, lasting, and wise financial future for God and His people!! It may be our last hope for SANITY in this new page that needs to be so desperately turned for the glory of God rather than the money changers. I do hope and pray that the leaders will "see the light." Otherwise, alluding to Pickett, we may, indeed, have "No OCA."
#12 Patty Schellbach on 2006-01-30 20:32
I didn't view Bishop Tikhon's response to be flippant. If anything, I found the "shocking response" sub-title of the article on this site to be a bit melodramatic, Drudge-like, if you will.
I've followed this site since it started and found Mark's writing to be incredibly well balanced and reasonable. Bishop Tikhon's quoted text, from his moderated Normal Orthodox list, was posted in response to a previous posting by Pat Collins about the missing 9/11 money. It sounded like a legitimate question, not a "Fund? What fund?" sort of comment. (Frankly, I didn't remember any 9/11 OCA collection in my parish either, but do recall IOCC raising money.)
Bishop Tikhon and I have our issues, which we discuss mostly offline. But I think that it is quite unfair to categorize his comment as deceptive or flippant. It just doesn't read that way in the original context.
#13 Marty Brown on 2006-01-31 07:59
I've got major problems with the ongoing financial scandal, but let's be clear about that molestation issue just raised. It's my understanding that the guilty individual involved wasn't a member of that parish nor of the OCA, and had only been going there a few weeks. Speaking of molestation occurring in a parish gives the misleading impression that clergy or church workers were somehow the perpetrators. No one working for the parish was found guilty of any wrongdoing.
#14 R. Mason on 2006-01-31 14:17
As a seminarian, I am under more direct control of OCA authorities than other laymen and, therefore, wish to remain anonymous to avoid any retaliation.
This comment from "The Continuing Mystery of the OCA 9/11 Special Appeal Fund" seems to imply that IOCC is part of the alleged cover-up, at least that was my first impression:
"Some time later friends began telling Pysarchyk that both the OCA and the IOCC were making inquisitive phone calls about her background."
#15 John on 2006-01-31 21:08
One item not mentioned is how to address our yearly assessment/dues. I am inclined to withhold paying my assessment until there is a full accounting/audit of the books and records and the individuals that are responsible for this misappropriation are held accountable and removed from office. I recommend that others do the same.
Karen & Greg Berezniak
East Brunswick, New Jersey
#16 Karen & Greg Berezniak on 2006-01-31 22:33
As more documents become available we will fill in the missing years.
#17 Editor on 2006-02-01 19:59
It is a sad commentary on our current state that a seminarian should live under fear as to what might happen if he dares question an OCA authority....
That being said, it was not our intention, nor did we say, that the IOCC was in anyway connected to the OCA financial scandal. Thanks for raising the question, so that we could clarify that point.
#18 Editor on 2006-02-01 20:08
Thank you for the compliment and the criticism.
The OCA emergency Appeal was the largest appeal every generated by the OCA. It was referenced by the OCA for more than eight months; and given special notice at the 2002 AAC. That Bishop Tikhon does not remember the most generous outpouring in OCA history, in response to our nation's tragedy, only four years later, at best speaks of a detachment that is, inexplicable. That he would do so on the internet on a topic that is so fresh in so many people's mind - please notice the first post on the topic from a victim's friends - is shocking, in my opinion. If you feel that my adjective caused the facts to become obscured, I apologize and will do better. Thanks for writing.
#19 Editor on 2006-02-01 20:20
I agree that this website is not the place to discuss the HTC molestations. However, as someone who was there at the time, and as one of the co-founders of Pokrov, I am compelled to report that Mr. Mason's information is seriously flawed. Of course, I'm not surprised. Beginning in 1991, misdirection, minimalization and personal attacks were used with a great deal of success against the families of HTC, just as those tactics are now being tried against Deacon Eric Wheeler, Mr. Paul Hunchak, the operators of this site, and anyone else who is calling for fiscal accountability. While it's important to note the similarity of the attacks on credibility, documents and articles pertaining to financial malfeasance are the focus of this site. **Accurate** information about the HTC molestations, and other sexual misconduct, can be found at www.pokrov.org.
Melanie Jula Sakoda
I thank Christ and His most pure Mother for the guts and refreshing candor of Archbishop JOB.
I’m proud to know him and be a member of his flock!
#21 John Iliff on 2006-02-02 05:41
I too considered that option,
However, our Church is billed by the Diocese of the Midwest monthly for Diocesan and OCA assessments.The Diocese in turn sends the portion that is alloted to the OCA. Our Church would be required to by the assessments even if we did not. Our Church's budget CANNOT handle this in any way and I would only be penalizing my own Church.
It might be a better solution for the Diocese to place the OCA's allotment into an escrow account
#22 Ruth on 2006-02-02 06:51
Relative to "withholding" assessments/dues I'm not sure I think that's a good idea. It seems to me that if an individual tithes to his local OCA parish (Say that came to $2,000 per year) the assessment for the National Church would be about 5%.
Depending on how your parish counts the census for assessment purposes there is no way for you to withhold only the assessment. All you'd be doing is reducing giving by 5% with 95% of that decrease falling on your local parish.
Seems to me that for those who are concerned that this scandal requires lay action visa vis the pocketbook, the best approach is to funnel even more money than ever through your local general giving. This would decentralize our community wealth to the local parish where it is (hopefully) being tracked in a transparent fashion.
I'm not an auditor but it seems to me that accounting for the income from assessments is child's play compared with these special donations, funds, and appeals.
#23 Symeon Jekel on 2006-02-02 08:11
I strongly believe a rigorous and thorough audit is needed for the last decade, at least, to clear up the current financial scandal. If laws have been broken, civil law enforcement should be involved. I'm also disturbed by the apparent amnesia over the 9/11 appeal. That said, what I don't want to see happen is for good people to return innuendo and smear for innuendo and smear. That's not a Christian response. My condolences go out to you and others who might have been mistreated, as I have a young daughter myself which allows me to empathize. I have strong views about what should be done with pedophiles. My comments were directed towards the previous poster's statement that HTC was "the site of multiple child molestations" without further clarification. I've visited the Pokrov site many times, though I've not located an article that shows my statement above is inaccurate. Please correct me where I was wrong, or point me to the exact link that says clergy, church workers, or any OCA employee was guilty of molestation at HTC. I'd appreciate having any error I might hold corrected. The article I did find on your site supports what I just wrote, as the perpetrator wasn't an employee of HTC. In regards to negligence, I have no insight on that matter other than no one was convicted of such nor was wrongdoing admitted in the settlement.
#24 R. Mason on 2006-02-02 14:49
I will always be a cheerleader for this website of Orthodox Christians for Accountability. It is too necessary. There is absolutely nothing scandolous by initiating Best Practices.
There is a saying my family has: "Something is not being done because it makes too much sense."
A culture of fear, half-truths, and decpetion is exactly why the ENRON executives are on trial, as we speak.
This posturing cannot last in the OCA; desperate people take desperate measures.
What the OCA really needs to fear is when the legal trial comes their way, moreso than a web site.
#25 Patty Schellbach on 2006-02-02 18:02
According to your own admision and testimoney regarding this website, "OCAnews does not quote exchanges on the clergy list without the express permission of the author."
However, you violated your own list's "best standards" practice by a) not approaching me or asking consent before using my name in your article, b) by quoting me without first seeking my permission to do so, and c) by publishing something which was obviously acquired through fraudulent means from a "closed" clergy list.
Fr. John Memorich
#26 Fr. John Memorich on 2006-02-02 19:55
Dear Fr. John:
I believe I explained fully and sufficiently in the article itself why we made an exception from our usual practice.
You assume that I acquired this through fraudulent means. The only thing that is obvious is that you do not know - or you would not have spoken so rashly of fraud.
In retrospect, you are probably right that I should have deleted your name and that of Fr. Morbey in the citation. That is how it was given to me, and that is how I printed it. I confess that I am new to editing websites, and ask your forgiveness for any difficulties my inexperience may cause you. I will rectify the situation immediately.
#27 Editor on 2006-02-02 20:30
I sent an earlier comment and I was asked if my comments could be edited. I said yes, but now I think that I should have said no!!!
Years ago Fr. "Bob" Kondradrick was asked by 13 members of St.John Chrytostom Church in Wooodside, NY why Bishop Gregory and Very Rev. Joseph Kreta were summarily
"retired" and/or discarded. Fr. "Bob" Kondratick's answer to all of us was... And I quote, "THERE ARE THINGS YOU ARE NOT PRIVY TO, NOR SHOULD YOU BE!"
Well after all these years I would like to know what I am "privy to" . After 50 years in church, have I done this for nothing?
I read all the things that are on the Internet and I wonder...For me, after four Missions, have we not spread the Word ? Or are we just waiting for someone to come and say ... Hello.. we'd like to OCA Orthodox? Are we really 1 million? Or are we only 30,000 wannabes? We have to ask the right questions. So many of what I read are thoughts like mine... But we don,t get answers. Bless you +Job. You are the only ones speaking out.
#28 Diane Gloumakoff on 2006-02-02 21:18
I agree that any attempt to withold assessments will only have a negative impact on the local parish.
But, it probably goes without saying, FOS memerships are purely voluntary, entirely within the control of the giver, and entirely for the purpose of supporting Syosset. I think most FOS members are active and involved members of the laity. I would hope that most are following this issue and that most will act accordingly.
One friend I've spoken with has sworn to never give FOS another penny. Kind of makes me wish I'd joined so I could drop it ... but the cause of supplementing Syosset's budget never did particularly inspire me.
#29 Rebecca Matovic on 2006-02-02 21:53
I was utterly dismayed at hearing that Mr. Gregg Nescott's nomination for parish council president was disallowed by his Diocesan Heirarch. People in power within our church seem to be so insecure when questioned or challenged don't they?
I'm a professional in the financial services field and am licsensed with various state insurance department authorities within the northeast. Had I been implicated-in or found guilty- of any of the schenanigans which allegedly have taken place within the OCA Chancery, I would have been fired from my position, been stripped of my licenses forever, never allowed to work in the field I love ever again and possibly could have faced being indicted.
I feel it is very important for this website to continue. Just imagine if none of this information was circulating within the layity. Eventually the dust would have settled and business would have gotten back to "normal".
Doesn't anyone feel any sense of accountability anymore? Do they think God will just look the other way?
I'm tired of this mess and can't wait for the audits to be completed. The truth will then be known, and hopefully, if guilty, those individuals will be dealt with.
#30 Michael Geeza on 2006-02-03 15:30
Many sending in their comments to this site are assuming that there will be a complete audit. Yet I read nothing that indicates that other than a few recent years will be audited. Furthermore the documents presented on these pages which explain Best Practices also seem to suggest that this is not the full auditing that many are expecting. It seems to me that if I am correct in my interpretation that this should be pointed out to the readers on this site. If there is a sufficient demand for an audit that goes back to the last full unqualified audit then the authorities should be asked why they are not doing it.
#31 Peter Melnik on 2006-02-04 21:42
So there were no “active” Orthodox Christians among the victims of 9/11. The Apostle calls to "do good to all" [Gal. 6:10], which is what those who sent their donations did. Money given to those who are in need and outside "of the household of faith" would have been better spent than money misappropriated by those who are "of the household".
My heart goes out to Archbishop Job in gratitude and admiration.
#32 Karina Ross on 2006-02-05 12:43
I commend you for your courage and dilligence in bringing forth the events that have been going on in our church for a LONG time. This had to brought to a head and I am pleased to see that someone like yourself has stepped forward to enlighten all concerned.
I read the press release of the Lessrer Synod of Bishops and it appears to be the same rhetoric that we have heard from the past years. Unless there is decisive action, I will not believe until I see. This audit, if there will be an audit, should go back to the time when a real or true audit was performed. No gaps should be allowed. If there were mistakes in error or judgement, let them now be brought forward and wipe the slate clean.
It was disturbing to me to learn that after all of these years of donating to the various charities and stewardships, that the monies were not going to the intended purpose. I have decided that until I hear of the truth coming forth, I will not donate any monies to the causes. I can give to those that are independent of the control of Syosset.
Again, we are proud of your courage to make all known. Please continue this effort until the "truth be known". You know, since you have been in the position to see first hand, the workings of the people that supposedly been put in trust of our stewardship.
#33 Hal Pukita on 2006-02-05 18:55
I do not think it is fair to blame OCA HQ for refraining from naming names just yet. I am prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt for the moment on that score in the hope that they will have a full and objective investigation done.
Naming names before the facts are known, or perhaps we should say confirmed, could give rise to libel or slander litigation, cause unnecessary division, or pin blame where it does not belong. Church and civil courts rightly provide for culpability to be fastened only after all evidence is in.
One hopes that these church authorities will not refrain from the pursuit of such evidence, although the omens do not seem promising.
#34 Fr. GW on 2006-02-05 18:56
The "Loan Factor"
As we wait for the current "audit" to be finished by March 31st, 2006, (in what seems to be a requirement for a bank loan for the OCA to borrow more money) and as we patiently wait to see what courses of action the OCA administration may take in this very seriuos, continuing dark chapter of the Orthodox Church, I cannot help but wonder how the OCA faithful would feel about, or possibly even carry, a 2 million dollar (or some high dollar amount more than it is now carrying) loan (if even approved) by a bank.
If the 10+ year financial misdealings does not get the attention of the OCA administration and it's faithful, I don't see how a 2 million dollar loan can not get our serious attention and concern.
As others have also asked, what would this mean in just the interest that would have to be paid back?
The circumstances surrounding this request for a possible "loan" may be the decisive nail in the coffin to have the OCA administration finally take stock of what they are doing with the cumulative errors that have taken place over the last 10 years or so.
The OCA Administration may need to seriously consider selling off some of our more lucrative OCA assets (particularly those located on Long Island) to make proper restitution of all monies improperly spent.
If our OCA property at 216 Martin was recently refurbished, this would mean that the property value should have gone up.
The selling of at least this property may help pay back some of the 2 million owed to the OCA. The current OCA administrator living at this OCA property, or one possibly following (if Fr. Bob's position is not done away with all together, or if not asked to retire or resign) may just have to take a commuter train (drive, or take the subway; I don't know the logistics of NY) from some less expensive area into Syosset so that we can help pay off at least our current loan from the bank.
How many other properties could be successfully sold off to pay back any debt or to make restitution for wrongly used funds from 10+ years, to stave off a total financial collapse of the OCA?
The OCA may have to move its headquartes from Long Island altogether and live much more simply and cheaply. (For instance, we have plenty of property up at St. Tikhon's.)
The OCA administration continues to seemingly repond to the present state of affairs with a stange lack of straighforwardness to us Orthodox faitful who have tried to support it with our hard earned money.
I can't quite understand this attitude in light of the present scandal and in light of a possibly huge (2 million dollars in debt) loan situation through a current audit to satisfy a bank requirement that has recently become known among the faithful.
Any thorough audit or financial transparency should allow the Synod, Metropolitan Council, and the OCA faithful, who have faithfully and loyally supported the OCA from pledges, free will offerings, and special collections, to know what the OCA's assets are worth so there is informed information out there to know how to procede in a responsibly financial way.
I truly worry that we make proper restitution to any misused funds, such as 9-11, rather than where the OCA conduct its business. Administration should be able to make due with a simple house on simple farm land. I have seen many a heavily budgeted school district and even colleges run its administrative affairs out of "portables." (It saves money.)
Of course, I guess the OCA could also just get ready to financially collapse. There may be some wisdom in this happening. This whole mess would not end the Orthodox Church that exists on American soil.
If the OCA does fold, the remaining faithful would have to amalgamate into another jurisdiction. The Antiochian, Greek, or Russian Patrirachate jurisdictions are three possibilites.
The current administration who have put us into this financial mess could be called to responsible, canonical and/or legal accountability.
I love the OCA; I don't think anyone of us in the OCA are enjoying what we are finding out. But corrections are possible if the administration will have eyes to see and ears to hear.
I love the Russian expression of what I was raised in. Its rich liturgical, spiritual, and musical tradition have so much to offer in the current Orthodox expression we find across America.
However, one wonders what is the continued fallout of the Catholic (molestation) scandal. They have had to sell tons of properties across America to pay their own financial debts from all their law suits. What has happened to the trust factor for those Catholics? How many have left the Catholic church over this scandal?
I don't know how much damage the OCA is going to be able to avoid. But I do think ethical and proper solutions remain readily in its grasp.
Our current situation is a tragic chapter for the witness of the Orthodox Church not being all that it could be or was called to be in the eyes of Christ. Again, I believe ethically sound proper financial and spiritual solutions remain within their grasp, before the whole issue just cannot be managed by any of us lowly faithful that are trying so hard to help suggest workable, ethical, and sound solutions.
I can only ask that we all pray:
Let us pray: Lord have mercy; God's will be done in all of this.
#35 Patty Schellbach on 2006-02-05 23:36
If you are not a member of the OCA, then why are you getting involved with the business of the OCA? Is that Christian?
In regards to this:
"I am also furious about what I read on the Orthodox Listserv Site out of the University of Indiana. I think men like Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald - who writes that this whole money mess in the OCA isn't important or a scandal - should be removed from office."
First of all any Orthodox Christian knows that a Bishop does not use his last name. Second of all where does Bishop Tikhon wirte that this whole money mess in the OCA isn't important or a scandal? I have never seen him write that. And third of all, what right do you have to say my Bishop should be removed from office when you are neither in my diocese nor my church? The Church is not a customer service organization.
#36 Olympiada Kane on 2006-02-16 14:27
Let me first note that I have not been a communicant of the Orthodox Church in America since 1990. However, I served as the nationally elected alternate member of the audit committee from 1981--1986, signing the audits in 1981 and 1982.
Further, I served as the secretary of a number of diocesan assemblies in the Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania during the period 1978-1982 (when I moved to Arlington VA). I also served as a parish president (St Herman's then in Wallilngford PA), as chair of the diocesan department of stewardship in Eastern Pennsyvania and as a member of the national department of stewardship during the triennium from 1980 to 1983. Thus I have have a fair knowledge of the operation of the the OCA at the highest levels.
I will not in the brief time I have to post go into all of my memories of that time. Let it suffice to say that there were irregularities in bookkeeping identified in the two audits that I signed. For the sake of the church, these were NOT publicly released,l but we spoke candidly to the higher adminstration of the Church at that time, including the then-treasurer Richard Reidy and chancellor Daniel Hubiak. That members of an audit committee, which remember are elected by the broadest representation of the OCA as a whole, an All-American Council, find it necessary to be public and on the record with their concerns,bespeaks to me a serious issue, far more serious than those that we addressed, which were in themnselves problematic.
The action taken by the Diocese of the Midwest with respect to funds being passed on to the national church is NOT the first time a diocese has taken such a course of action. I no longer have my notes from that time, but I have clear recollections of similar threats to withhold funds, albeit for reasons far less salutory.
I know many of the player on both sides of this issue. I have known Metropolitan Herman since before I became Orthodox, first meeting him at a church picnic in 1976. I have known and worked with Frs. Kondcratick and Kucynda in a variety of roles over my years of activity in the OCA. I was Bishop Job's house guest when he was still Fr. John Osacky in Black Lick PA in the diocese of W Penna. I know Jonathan Russin from when I attended St Nicholas Cathedral in DC, as I also know Fr. Dmitry Grigorieff,with whom I used to occasionally have lunch while he still taught at Georgetown.
While I left the Orthodox church over a decade ago, I was married in the OCA at St Mark in Bethesda, and my wife is still a communicant and an active participant. Thus, the words I offer are not from anger, but from sadness and deep disappointment.
The church should NOT be having funds that are totally unexamined by outside sources. While there is clear justification for the Metropolitan -- or even the ordinary parish priest - having some limited funds that can spent at his discretion, there should be some oversight as to how these funds are spent, in the case of the Metropolitan at least by the elected audit committee. As a matter of law and fiduciary responsibility, the audit committee should be able to assure the church this much - (1) that the funds were given specifically for that purpose,and (2) that there is nothing untoward in how they were disbursed. This would provide sufficient confidentiality at the same time giving assurances of financial propriety.
I was only a layman, although I did read some canon law for "fun." What I wish to address is not however that of canonical correctness but rather appropriateness for a Church in the United States. I believe it quite improper for the ecclesiastical authorities to use their powers as hierarchs to silence discussion and criticism. The operation of the church should be transparent. There is nothing here that approaches the secrecy accorded the sacrament of penance. There is the legal responsibility for relatively large amounts of funds given in the name of the Church. It seems to me it is totally appropriate for those in other LEADERSHIP positions -- as is the case with Archbishop Job, Dcn Wheeler, Mr.Nescott ( who, I remind people is the son-in-law of former chancellor and treasurer Archpriest Daniel Hubiak and thus is hardly hostile to the leadership of the OCA per se) and the elected members of the audit committee to raise questions, which if not appropriately answered when raised privately to repeat them in a more publish fashion.
I have no dog in this fight, to use the old country expression. And there are many things I know in my previous official capacities that might further inflame this discussion. I choose not to express them at this time, lest I be accused of being a disgruntled outsider who merely wants ot hurt the church. In my 14 years in the OCA, I experienced both the best and the worst, from the leadership and from the general membership (my Jewish origin being an issue in the latter case but not in the former case). I bear no hostility towards the church, and still periodically attend services with my wife (who does not know that I am writing this).
Writing as an outsider but one with more than casual knowledge and interest, the OCA is at a real crossroads on this issue. If the leadership of the church persists in its current pattern of reufsing to be accountable and transparent and using its ecclesiastical authority to suppress legitimate questions, it will do the church far more harm than any scandals that might be exposed by honesty and openness. I know from personal experience the tendency of the OCA to draw up protectively around priests and bishops, sometimes even at the expense of tearing a parish apart. I have lived through it. The parish in question did recover, even though many sheep were lost to the OCA. I hope and pray that the leadership will come to their senses, that the elected members of Metroplitan Council wll insist on full accountability and transparency.
I hope and pray for these things, but based on past record my expectations for prayer answered positively are quite small.
#37 Kenneth Bernstein on 2006-02-20 21:19
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