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Compromise "Special Investigative Committee" Begins; Fr. Kucynda Ends?

The broad outlines of a compromise Special Investigative Committee, to replace both the former Special Commission and the new Special Investigative Committee established by Metropolitan Herman alone last week, were agreed upon by the Metropolitan Council and the Synod of Bishops this afternoon.

The announcement from Syosset reads:

SYOSSET, NY [OCA Communications] -- At its session on Tuesday, October 16, 2007, the Metropolitan Council passed a resolution that a Special Investigative Committee be established by the Metropolitan Council in conjunction with the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America. The resolution listed seven points concerning the work of the proposed Holy Synod/Metropolitan Council Special Investigative Committee:

1. Determine what tasks need to be concluded in order to determine what happened in the financial affairs from 1998-2007, what were the root causes that allowed inappropriate financial transactions, and what corrective actions are necessary to prevent recurrence of such inappropriate financial transactions;

2. Conduct all necessary interviews of persons that in the committee's judgment may have information germane to the matters in issue, considering no witnesses off limits;

3. Make written recommendations to the Metropolitan Council and the Holy Synod regarding implementation of the corrective actions necessary to prevent recurrence of inappropriate transactions;

4. Recommend such other actions as the committee may feel appropriate;

5. Provide quarterly reports to the Metropolitan Council and the Holy Synod regarding the progress of the committee;

6. Make decisions within the committee by majority vote of the committee, with the Chair voting to resolve tie votes;

7. Conclude the investigation and provide a written report to the Metropolitan Council and the Holy Synod of the committee's complete findings."

At the joint session of the Holy Synod of Bishops and Metropolitan Council on Wednesday, October 17, the Holy Synod issued the following response to the Metropolitan Council's resolution.

"Having on 16 October 2007, established a second Special Investigative Committee; and having recognized the request of the Metropolitan Council that a Holy Synod/Metropolitan Council Special Investigative Committee be established; and, accepting the seven points of the Metropolitan Council's resolution of 16 October 2007; the Holy Synod blesses the work of the Special Investigative Committee."

The careful crafting of the compromise may be seen in each of the points. For example - the compromise Committee's charge in point #1 is much broader than either of the previous two appointed by the Metropolitan; but not as broad as the four questions charged by the Metropolitan Council in December 2006. Both point #1 and #4 make reference to the fact that it is the Committee that will determine its own tasks, not those outside the Committee. Point #6 explains that the Committee will make those decisions by majority vote, with the chair only voting to resolve ties. This would also reduce the power of any outsiders, as well as any legal counsel appointed to assist the Committee. Finally #7 states that both the Synod and Council will receive the full written report of any findings - not just the Synod.

While the outlines of a new compromise Committee are clearly established, the devil, as they say, is in the details. Important questions remain:

• How many persons will be on the Committee?

• Who will they be?

• Who will chair it?

Until these questions, and others, can be answered, it would be premature to judge the success of the compromise. But the fact that it has been officially announced  - and remained posted (unlike the "Summary" of the Special Commission's Preliminary Report) is significant.

In other news from the joint meeting, usually reliable sources have stated that Fr. Paul Kucynda was released from his duties as Acting Treasurer early this evening. Syosset has yet to confirm the dismissal.

- Mark Stokoe


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