Saturday, March 24. 2007
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First of all, Mark, you have done a difficult and necessary job at this website. Thank you.
Second, lawyers are dangerous, and an ethical laywer is one of the most dangerous forces in the world. I don't see where Mr. Nescott did anything inappropriate. "Fired by Metropolitan Herman" should be a bullet on his resume Mr. Nescott should be proud of.
I had posted earlier that Metropolitan Herman was playing a bad hand brilliantly. This latest action demonstrates that I was completely wrong. It seems merely petulant. I had hoped that responsible leadership was taking over behind the scenes while leaving others to celebrate birthday parties harmlessly.
I literally don't know where to begin with all this.
Now is not the time for me to post further, I think. Things will shortly become clear without any more blather from me. But I did want to thank everyone with the guts to do the right thing.
#1 Tim Capps on 2007-03-24 17:26
This is a well-worn tactic of this crowd: accuse your opponents of what you are doing and deflect attention from your wrongdoings while they defend themselves. Greg, don't waste your time trying to prove you did not do anything. We know you did not. These people have been practicing this tactic for a decade. They have been breaching people's confidences almost continuously. So only now does MH get self-righteous about it? Poppycock.
MH, you so admire the Russian peasant mentality that grovels at the feet of the bishop. That never was an Orthodox posture and certainly will not work in the 21st century. Please return to the previous century of your autocratic fantasies and leave us to get on with the real work of the Gospel instead of wasting our time with all these petty games.
#1.1 Name Withheld by Request on 2007-03-24 22:01
"Madness" is how you ended that final note. Madness indeed! Ironically I thought of the end of "Bridge over the River Kwai," as that was the last word uttered in the movie. At least Alec Guinness's character had the sense to give his live to destroy the madness he had created. It seems swearing to one's own hurt is not something we should hope for in our leaders in the OCA. Tonight I am hollow. The next few days will tell whether someone with backbone will stand up and lead us out of this darkness. Today we celebrate the Annunciation: "Oh our Lord, send again Thine angel Gabriel among us to bring us the message of Salvation. "
With all my heart, I wanted to stay in the OCA. Since it will not be the future of Orthodoxy in America, I am not sure that I am not doing anything other than wasting my time. Nonetheless, I shall still wait and see.
#2 Cyril Jenkins on 2007-03-24 17:46
I just read the latest and greatest developments (as much of it as I could anyway). As someone who attended St. Vlad's and who actively attended an OCA for much of my childhood, I'm not even sure I could muster the strength to sing "Memory Eternal" to the OCA -- nor at this point do I think it deserves it.
Sometimes the only path out of dysfunctionalism is to simply move on. You will only continue to hurt yourself by trying to fix something that simply can't be fixed.
Watching this stuff play out is beyond a mockery of the gospel of Christ, it is blasphemy.
To all who have fought this good fight so far, I pray that the Lord will guide you to the path of another omophorion, one that is in keeping with the gospel and dignity of Christ.
May God have mercy on +Herman's soul.
#3 Priest Michael on 2007-03-24 17:47
Today, in our services we should pray to GOD, for the removal of +H, from the OCA, not for his health to lead the OCA.
UNTIL +H IS FIRED, THE CHURCH WILL NOT MOVE FORWARD!
DEAR MR. STOKOE,
I CAN'T THANK YOU ENOUGH FOR YOUR HARD AND DELIGENT WORK OVER THE PAST MONTHS OR SHOULD I SAY YEARS. I'M JUST GETTING OVER THE SHOCKING NEWS RECENTLY POSTED. SYOSSET, MET H, AND THE HOLY SYNOD(NOT WHOLE) JUST DON'T GET IT. THE METROPOLITAN COUNCIL APPEARS TO HAVE WOKEN UP AND DISCOVERED THEIR GONADS.
MR.STOKOE, MARK, PLEASE TAKE A DEEP BREATH. KEEP UP THE GOOD FIGHT, WORK.THIS SITUATION IS UTTERLY FRUSTRATING AS IT IS UNBELIEVABLE TO YOU AS IT IS TO ME.
I WAS EXPECTING TO READ REPORTS, EVIDENCE, ETC. DISCLOSED, INVESTGATION CONTINUES. WITH ALL DO RESPECT SOME OF THESES BISHOPS SOUND FEEBLE AT BEST.
I'LL BE WRITING BISHOP JOB AS WELL. IN ADDITION TO ASKING HIM TO AWARD YOU A GRAMATA.
WHERE ARE THE VOICES OF THE LEGACY OCA PRIESTS AND LAITY THAT"THE AVERAGE JOE" RESPECTS AND ADMIRES. THIS IS NOT GOING TO BLOW OVER.
ONCE AGAIN GOD BLESS YOU AND THOSE SINCERE ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS TRYING TO SAVE THE OCA. YES IT'S DOWN TO THIS.
#4 another concerned orthodox christain on 2007-03-24 18:02
There’s more to say later, but I find it inconceivable, completely disingenuous, and very transparent of his motives, that Herman would dismiss Greg because he handled information badly. We’re talking about a very well regarded and awarded Federal Prosecutor, who’s knowledge of handling information and evidence can never be comprehended by Herman. Herman has no integrity, and he accuses one who does. Herman has no character, and dismisses those that do. Herman met good intentions and a desire to do good for the Church and he slapped it in the face and showed it the back of his hand. He has not only completely lost moral leadership, but basic morals. What is he hiding?
We have a few bad apples here and its becoming apparent that there is no rationalizing with this bunch. Dmitri this week has shown us, what many have talked about here lately, and shown what lack of character and integrity he possesses walking in the path of Herman. What are they hiding?
It should be demanded by EVERY faithful Orthodox, OCA or not, to know what Herman is hiding in addition to those that are working so hard to protect him as well. These are not the actions of a man who’s trying to hide small failings on his part, but an obstruction of justice that is screaming at offenses, the magnitude of which, we will never fully grasp. This is no longer an OCA matter, this is an affront to the Church in general. What are they hiding?
It has become very apparent that what is in our midst is evil. What are we going to do to deal with it? This will not “go away”. During Great Lent this year, evil has confronted us. Let us stand strong and let it be known that this evil will not prevail!
What are they hiding?
#5 Bob Czech on 2007-03-24 18:16
I hope the dismissal of Attorney Nescott will be used to turn on some more light to the ongoing long term deception.
I witnessed the integrity of Gregg in his young adult development in Miami and his passion for church renewal and growth. As a mature Federal Prosecuter this clean man has the best insight into how the Special Commission could have best gone forward unthwarted and untainted by special interests.
St. Paraskeva House Association
#5.1 Matushka Carol on 2007-03-25 09:37
The actions of Met. Herman are the actions of a guilty and selfish man who cares more about power, money, himself and his "image" than truth, ethics, integrity, honor, accountability, protection of innocence, and the Holy Orthodox Church. There simply aren't any reasonable explanations left to explain his conduct given how much has happened and the mountain of information we have seen. Actions DO SPEAK LOUDER than WORDS, and this hierarch has proven he is not worthy of his sacramental office any longer.
Met. Herman has shown us, once again, why and how the OCA got itself in this mess and crisis in the first place. Leopards obviously do not change their spots, and incompetent, selfish, power hungry and unethical hierarchs do not suddenly decide to do the right thing and correct their evil ways even when faced with the mountain of evidence and truth that expose the horrible reality of what has happened under his watch and with his blessing.
The bell has finally tolled for +Herman and his cohorts. He is a disgrace and an evil force working to destroy the OCA and stop the truth from saving the Church. With this act he confirms that he does not have clean hands and may be potentially as guilty, if not more so that those he was
managing, since he was "in charge" during many of the years in question.
I was such a fool to believe this hierarch would, at the 11th hour do the right thing. Fr. Christopher Wojick, Mark Stokoe, Gregg Nescott, Jay Holman, Bob Czech, and many others were 100% correct; they saw this situation as it really was and were correctly skeptical that the metropolitan and the other bishops would actually reverse course and do what's right. I had held out hope that truth, ethics, light and love would defeat the evil and corruption working to destroy the OCA. It turns out I was wrong, as least in the short run. We know Christ and truth will win in the end, but it looks like we will all have to suffer and struggle much longer and harder until our house rids itself of the ravenous, corrupt, and evil wolves in our midst. Lord Have Mercy!
It is time for the laity to organize a march to St.Tikhons Monastery (with complete press coverage)possibly around Memorial Day? The time has come to rout these cowardly clowns. We need a leader.
#6.1 witheld on 2007-03-26 18:06
To Metropolitan Herman – resign, resign, resign!
To Archbishop Dmitri – shame on you! A pastor you’re not!
To Fr. Paul Kucynda _ disappointing, very disappointing!
To the bishops of the OCA – It is very clear now, that most of you have no idea how much damage has been done to your flock…how upset, betrayed and disillusioned the people are. You are playing games with the very future and existence of the OCA! How sad!
#7 Andrew Lukashonak on 2007-03-24 18:48
Matthew 5:37: "But let your 'yes' be 'yes', and your 'no', 'no'."
If one assumes a stance or position, at least have the dignity to stick with it! What does the latest news reveal? Failed leadership. And a colossal failure at that, with absolutely no vision. And the worst part about it, at least for me, is that I am not stunned at all, because this seems to be the recurring pattern. I would really like someone to clearly demonstrate how this could possibly be for the building up of God's Church. Please. I know of a small handful of very theologically articulate people 'out there', Internet-savvy, with legitimate theological education, who believe that this is the right course. Let's have a debate without polemics!
#7.1 N. Denysenko on 2007-03-25 05:04
Don't hold your breath--to borrow a phrase, "why does baloney reject the grinder?"
#7.1.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-03-25 09:54
A Date Which Will Live in Infamy
Mark, could someone set up a fund to be used for getting these criminals convicted???
I would like to donate.
TAKE NO PRISONERS!!!
Mark, please post as written.
#8 Ande on 2007-03-24 19:11
This is the first time i have ever posted on the website. To be honest, after reading the Archpastoral letter from the Synod of Bishops i was very optimistic, and some what releaved and hopefull. I then came on this website to see what people were posting and i was a little dissapointed with the way people were still unhappy and skeptical. I thought to myself well this is a starting point where real change can happen. Then tonight i read about Mr. Nescott being removed from the commission and suspended from the Metropolitan Council. I was shocked and disgusted because i felt this man truly was looking out for the best interest of the church and in the end he was punished. Then to hear about Bishop Dimitri taking back the rescind and stating that there is no proof that Father Kondradick is guilty and that he is doing a wonderful job at his parish in venice, Fl. made me sick. I am a member of the diocese of the south and i am embarrassed that my bishop would go back on what he signed and agreed to. I feel that Bishop Dimitri is not acting like a leader. I feel he signed that Archpastoral letter because all the bishops were there and he had to give in and then when he had to return to Florida he had to deal with Kondradick and Fester and felt the need to give in to them. Almost like he has no back bone and will do anything to play both sides to keep people happy. Obviously he does not like confrontation. So now i feel like a fool for getting mad at all of you for leaving pessimistic comments about the situation. I am young so i probably do not know as much as everyone else but now i see you all were right in being skeptical. I feel after what has happened on Friday that the Metropolitan took back that entire letter that was hopefull and completely did a 360. This does not look good at all. I also feel bad about saying such harsh things about my bishop and Metropolitan but i feel utterly dissapointed in my church. I pray that Bishop Job is allowed to continue the investigative commission and i also pray for the Metropolitan Council. Hopefully this will not discourage them from speaking the truth and standing up for what is right!
#9 Anonymous on 2007-03-24 19:16
Don't feel like a fool. I too was optimistic, in a somwhat complicated and hedged way. I too was disappointed that the responses were so cynical. I hadn't got around to putting the rather complicated feelings I had on paper ... but as another poster said, "nevermind."
#9.1 Rebecca Matovic on 2007-03-25 03:40
As an Orthodox Christian from a non-OCA jurisdiction, I have watched the unfolding scandal with sadness. While the reaction of many in the Church to the apparent breach of trust is understandable, the fact that such a thing could occur should come as no surprise to any of us sinners who are honest with ourselves. As many have already stated, what makes this a scandal is not the misappropriation of funds, serious though that may be. It is rather the seeming lack of concern for the truth.
What is revealed by this unfortunate series of events is the pressing need for an understanding of true ecclesiology on the part of all involved, including those of all Orthodox jurisdictions; for virtually all suffer from an almost Roman Catholic understanding of the Church as being constituted by her hierarchs alone. Thus we see some who lose faith in God and His Church simply because they have lost faith in their hierarchs, and we see hierarchs who feel it is their right to ignore the truth as well as the pleas of the faithful. In many cases the faithful have been almost forced to resort to cries for the accountability of their hierarchs to the people while the hierarchs, isolated from their churches by the completely artificial authoritarian ethos that has plagued the Church since the Byzantine Empire, find it difficult to understand how anyone would dare question them.
I cannot even begin to enumerate all the times I have heard Orthodox priests, lay-persons, and sometimes even bishops say that “it doesn’t matter what your authority does; you must obey.” In the right context and understood in a well-balanced way, I would agree. But the fact that this statement is usually made in a completely unqualified manner is both a strong indication of our ignorance of the often stormy history of the Church and an abdication of our shared responsibility to be the Church, “the pillar and ground of the truth.”
The one very bright side of this scandal is the fact that Orthodox hierarchs, priests, and people are being provided with the opportunity to wake up to the fact all are to submit to one another in love in order to witness to the truth of the Kingdom of God. Pride and authoritarian power (be it hierarchical or democratic) have no place in the Church of Christ - not in the hierarchy, not in the priesthood, and not in the people. And the powers her hierarchs have entrusted to them are exercised in the name of the Church communities they serve - in the power of the Holy Spirit, in love, with humility, and for the sake of the Truth in whom we find our salvation. This is the ecclesiology of the Church. But we have all grown insensitive to it. For some this insensitivity is due to our vain attempts to restore the ‘glory days’ of the Church. For others it is the result of observing the customs handed down to us by our parents and grandparents - customs which are ‘hallowed’ only by time, not by Holy Tradition. I am relieved to see that this scandal has provided the occasion for us to begin to see just how false and untenable our understanding of ecclesiology has been.
As I have observed the course of this scandal one hierarch, who bears the name of a great Old Testament sufferer for truth, shines as a light in the darkness. He is, as every bishop should be, the teacher, the shepherd, the servant leader, and the voice of his flock. It has been a joy to watch his humble yet uncompromising stand for the truth in the face of great pressure and ridicule. The people of his diocese have every reason to be proud of him. But what surpasses this joy is the fact that his approach is itself an expression of the true ecclesial nature of the Church. This brings me great hope. We can only pray that, like so many in our history, he is not persecuted, deposed, or exiled only to be venerated as a great Saint by future generations.
Let no one be afraid. The gates of hell and the father of lies will not prevail against the Church. Truth will prevail because only truth has the substance of the reality of our Lord Jesus Christ. Every lie, no matter how powerful it may seem at the moment, is destined to disappear into the nothingness from whence it was conceived. Moreover this present scandal will ultimately be overcome in the same way the Church has always overcome her internal crises...by returning to a true understanding of herself in Christ.
My heartfelt prayer is for you all.
Brian Van Sickle
All Saints Orthodox Church
#10 Brian Van Sickle on 2007-03-24 19:16
It seems our Metropolitan expects the faithful of the OCA to blindly serve him. I have no respect for such an attitude.
#11 Samuel Osman on 2007-03-24 19:44
BLACK FRIDAY, this latest news makes all of us sick, sad and sorrowful. This is a major disgrace for our Orthodox faith and the Church in America. This will lead to the split and collapse of OCA.
• Herman Dismisses Nescott from Commission, Metropolitan Council
#12 Please with hold my name. on 2007-03-24 19:52
........just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water.......
#13 Sophia Weisheit on 2007-03-24 19:59
Not only is he Anaxios, we are witnessing evil men leading our Church down into the grave. What began with so much hope and promise as The Orthodox Church in America is being destroyed.
I hope and pray that Abp. Job will lead us out of the OCA. If he doesn't, it's only a question of where we will go.
#14.1 Name withheld on 2007-03-26 05:23
If Mr. Nescott was dismissed instead of warned if he acted inappropriately and Fr. Kondratick was not transferred as the archpastoral letter stated after acting inappropriately for "years", this will certainly be the most dissappointing Paschas in my life as an Orthodox person.
I have now decided who to thank.
#15 Daniel E. Fall on 2007-03-24 20:07
Mark,---You were right! Total insanity.
#16 Tom Haulund on 2007-03-24 20:40
"Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them.......And saith unto him, All these things will I give the, if thou wilt fall down and worship me..."----That the Great Tempter has won another round is obvious, our prayers are sorely needed
#16.1 luke on 2007-03-24 22:42
Dear Bishop Job,
I would hope you are following the recent events of MH. The Metropolitan is going after people he feels is still "safe" for him to go after. He did not come after you!!! NOT YET!!! And DON'T LET HIM!!! Stand firm, fast, resolute, and courageous in your determination to continue to lead this Special Commission to the truth!!! We recently had the formal words of Father THomas Hopko to confirm the righteousness of your path!!! I have seen this type of dysfunction before. These personalities are not all bad and they usually try that much harder to come across as competent. But their motives follow consistent patterns and are actually dysfunctional to the degree that they lash out, strike out, and become totally CONSUMED by anger, self-righteousness, arrogance, and pride. This type of dysfunction exists out there and it is always sad, disapointing, and tragic. BUT IT DOES NOT HAVE TO TRIUMPH!!! DONT LET SUCH EVIL triumph when the courageous and brave have worked so hard to get the OCA to a higher moral and ethical ground. Some people just get very threatened in their incapacity to change the sad truth of past and present actions and absurdities!!! However, we also know that God was ready to forgive David, Peter who denied Chirst, the Publican, Prodigal, the sinful woman, and the repentant thief.
Bishop Job, you must lead the OCA to higher ground. You recently showed us your courage and willingness to get to the bottom of the truth!!! NOT ONE PERSON CAN BE SHOCKED BY what that truth could find for the OCA. But pride and arrogance will always make that journey to truth filled with pain, contradiction, and blame on any one but themselves. I HAVE SEEN IT BEFORE. Have these bishops so little mastery or discernment or experience of where and what evil can lead any one person??? Greg Nescott is to be commended for his courageous work and remarks. He is not the problem!!! He just hit too close to home!!! You have made a difference, Bishop Job. DON'T LET THE OTHER BISHOPS BULLY YOU AROUND!!! You have the moral and ethical high ground. If MH starts messing with you, I feel this will be only greater evidence of who really has the problems and gives you greater resolve on your part to lead the OCA to its new birth of living in Christ and not the darkness of sin.
#17 Patty Schellbach on 2007-03-24 21:35
Don't accept Greg's dismissal. Why does anyone listen to MH any longer? Strip his authority by ignoring him. He does not hold himself accountable, therefore, he has ceased to deserve our honor and respect. Ignore him and any other bishop who has betrayed us by allowing these disingenuous announcements to be made in the name of Christ. We only perpetrate his madness if we stop right action because he is standing in the way. IGNORE HIM. HE HAS TRIVIALIZED HIS LEADERSHIP, AS HAS DIMITRI and any other bishop who stands with them.
#18 Anon. on 2007-03-24 21:49
Do you think that maybe God gave us these bishops to keep us humble? I mean, it is very difficult for me to feel triumphalistic with these guys leading us. How about you?
It's like some weird game going on back east. How did these bafoons become bishops?
Perhaps they will all suddenly die and we can merge with the Antiochians or ROCOR.
I think we need to find a better way of choosing bishops because it is evident that the system we have now is not producing very good results.
Well, all I can say is no more money for anything related to the OCA. No monasteries. No missionaries. No seminaries. Not even my parish (because of fair share). Nothing OCA will get one penny. The Holy Synod has not shown itself to be faithful. (Oh, in case my priest or the parish treasurer is reading this, Don't worry. I'll give in ways that avoid fair share.)
#19 Matt Karnes of Holy Trinity Cathedral in San Francisco on 2007-03-24 21:53
Money being the root of all evil, withholding it will kill the evil. Let us all seriously consider stopping the flow of ALL money to the OCA. This is now an evil organization and it must go.
From today's scripture reading, Mark 10:
But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, "You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.
43 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant.
44 And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all.
45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.
+Herman, make your bed and lie in it.
#19.1 ANON on 2007-03-25 08:59
This may be the best thing that joe s. did for us and for the OCA.
Anyone out there old enough to remember this quotation?
“I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant ...”
#20 Ande on 2007-03-24 21:58
Yes, I for one do.... This was spoken by Japanese Admiral Yamamoto after his naval forces failed to completely destroy the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor. The rest of his quote I feel is even more important......" and filled him with a terrible resolve. "
#20.1 Sophia Weisheit on 2007-03-25 19:17
This is all too much! And I really mean it.
The house of cards is falling fast and Archbishop Dmitri is playing ecclesiastical chicken with His Beatitude to the very end. How do you spell “senility?” What investment did Fr. Bob make in the Archbishop so as to get this kind of ecclesiastical protection from a man with limited faculties even at this late date? The actions of the Archbishop these last few years, never mind days, does make one wonder about his “abilities.” I think the Diocese of the South needs to be investigated financially also -- especially after this week of shameful and scandalous games at the Orthodox Cardinal’s conclave. There is much too much smoke on the horizon and it smells like burning trash.
My old finance teacher in Texas once told me that "funny money always talks and the false myth of integrity always walks." Actually, I have learned more about financial integrity from atheists than I have from Christians in high places. After all of my observations of this moral fiasco in the OCA I wonder if there is actually a difference between atheists and those in high places! It seems that these people believe in the wicked delusions of Machiavelli more that the reality of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Right now, this is all a disgrace of the His graces.
I also think that it is proper that someone tell the Archbishop that it is time to exit the stage of this OCA farce now! He needs to go to the rest home "for the good of the Church." He doesn’t know what is going on from day to day! One day Fr. Bob is a "bad boy" and the next day he is "doing a wonderful job." God save us from the "wonderful jobs" that Fr. Bob does!
Forget making another “abnormal” sociopath sycophant a “bishop” as is being lined-up for the Diocese of the South. The OCA is splintering and going down quickly and they want to make a former RC potentate a bishop? That will not heal or fix any problem but make everything unbearable. Enough with the hallucinogenic hubris! It is time to become a REAL canonical Orthodox Church and go to Antioch.
So, “give me Antioch or give me death!” It looks like there is sanity in that hummus after all.
#21 Al Goldberg-Rogovich on 2007-03-24 22:14
What makes you think that Antioch has any different problems? In my experience, they are more authoritarian than the OCA. Just look at the draconian way Philip squashed the AEOM.
No, the real solutions is to knuckle down and start doing the
work of the Gospel and stop running around the theological barnyard like Chicken Little. Now the real work begins. There have been dozens of us, maybe hundreds, who have been attempting over the last two decades to make these contributions. Those contributions fell on unworthy ears, as is now becoming apparent to all.
#21.1 Name withheld on 2007-03-25 09:07
>What makes you think that Antioch has any different
>problems? In my experience, they are more authoritarian
>than the OCA. Just look at the draconian way Philip
>squashed the AEOM.
That's a thought. Also, I was at SVS when the Fr. Joseph Allen affair went down and saw how dictatorially Metropolitan Philip dealt with those who questioned his judgement in that case. (As an interesting note, there is a fair bit of similarity between how that episode began and how the Tim Blumentritt epsiode began: both were counselors who stepped WAY over the line in their professional and religious work!)
Moreover - and this is something to really think about - if the OCA breaks up Moscow will certainly try to grab the pieces. Now I have real questions about how much the MP understands or even wants to understand the needs and the vision of American Orthodoxy... seems to me they're far more reactionary... and what we need is a progressive Orthodox vision for the 21st Century and beyond. What I don't have any question about is how the MP is allied with Putin's government to expand Russia's influence in the world. And Putin did say that nuclear missiles and the Russian Church are the two main weapons of Russia. There's no concept of church-state separation there. So I don't think it would be good for the OCA pieces to be grabbed up that way.
The progressive theological vision of the OCA is still so needed, even if the practical working out of the OCA has failed. I believe the EP could give protection and aid to that vision, even as it has aided the vision and work of Bishop Basil in England and its Russian Archdiocese in Western Europe. And the EP could give protection from Moscow.
Something to think about.
In the Joy of the Lord Jesus Made Flesh,
Very interesting thought! I will research Constantinople, too! It is my mistake: I thought the Turks had ethnicly cleansed all the Christian Greeks from Constantinople! At my age, I guess learning is still possible. Thank you!
I bet that Greek festival in Constinople must be a real bummer! What type of dancing do the Muslims let the Greeks do? The turkey trot?
#220.127.116.11 Al Goldberg-Rogovich on 2007-03-25 20:15
Interesting points. With the latest *insanity*, one wonders if the game plan is to bring the OCA down, so that all those OCA-deluded Russians will flee to ROCOR, i.e. MP... Is it crazy like a fox that we're dealing with here; is there a possibility that very high level deals have been made? We can only wonder in a-maze-ment, the place of confusion where the devil operates. A confused customer is a profitable customer
#18.104.22.168 Karen Jermyn on 2007-03-26 07:05
Friend, I don't see any of them Antiochians being publicly wacky and going for the gusto of spiritual oblivion by facilitating and exacerbating public scandal! They had a bishop fondle a women's breasts when drunk (Oh, my! I saw the video!) and he was told, in no uncertain terms (apart from his copious Palestinian whining, crying and tantrums) to go to a REAL rehab! Furthermore, when finished with rehab, and this is the real lovely kicker, he was forcibly retired! It is even handed with the Antiochians per actual history and real events and not ecclesiastical PR -- sin is sin and it must be called what it is and something must then be done about it. For me it looks like REAL masculinity to be even handed and decisive for the sake of the Gospel of Christ -- bishops or clerics or laymen alike get the same concern and assistance to be relieved of delusion. Can you see Met. Philip allowing himself to be jerked around by the likes of Fr. Bob or others in the Delusion Squad*? FAT CHANCE! And I say AMEN to that! I admire decisiveness in Christ.
I am also seeing the Antiochians as being even handed -- all around -- even with bishops as I have just said. In my looking and listening to friends and they say that near to 70% of their priests are young, qualified and capable convert Americans and that they are growing fast. On the other hand, this is a danger, too, if not properly monitored and directed. All the OCA, however, can say is NO to honesty! NO to the truth! This anti-gospel mediocrity makes me sick.
I find this "they have their problems, too" mindset as another way to keep the chickens in the henhouse and to keep them from actually thinking and praying critically before God – you know, to keep people from discernment as to where and when to go away from the OCA cat fight. Honest, I do however, know what you mean. Don't take what I have just said as a harsh criticism. I'm not, in any way, doing that because I know we are all trying to understand ecclesiastical stupidity and this is a most difficult situation for all of us serfs not worthy of the ether of the OCA Mount Olympus. I realize that we are ALL in the same boat. But I do wish some would be put into the padded geriatric lifeboat so that they could play ecclesiastical BINGO without me (and the world!) having to hear or see it! Get my drift?
The lack of REALITY (aptly called “MADDNESS!”*) is the most striking thing I perceive in this whole matter -- by people that should have the skills and the spiritual depth to know and do better – but are they really our LEADERS?! How scary a thought is that one! How can any thinking and praying person respect a man who says one thing about Fr. Bob one day and another thing the very next day? Is this an important matter, or what? Whatever happened to "let your 'yes' be 'yes' and your 'no' be 'no'!" There are no meds available for this spiritual duplicity as far as I know, however, another solid gold cross does seem to serve as a good ecclesiastical tranquilizer for a short time in this episcopal personality type. Senility is a kindness from God for this man in that it would diminish his responsibility before God according to the degree of his senility. And in the immortal words of former Governor Ann Richards: “Poor Rooster, he was born with a silver Baptist in his mouth!”
I don't care for the man and as a Christian who has been paying the price for commitment to the dysfunctional Orthodox Church, against all odds for all too many years, I can have my say and, trust me, all of this is pure charity, too. So, put that in your censor and smoke it! This Archbishop ordains fundamentalists concrete blocks and it is the lay folks that have to cope with his diminished competence and his pet clerical obstacles he calls clergy. Actually, the word in the Diocese of the South is that he will ordain anyone or anything that moves! Seriously a bad situation.
. . . AND NOW HE HAS FATHER BOB! What a winning ticket! Or should I say BINGO!
#21.1.2 Al Goldberg-Rogovich on 2007-03-25 14:47
Dear Al and all the rest of us,
Just a question here. Why are we making such a big deal about Archbishop Dmitri's letter to the Metropolitan rescinding his agreement to release Fr. Kondratick back to Metropolitan Herman?
The Archbishop already sent a signed letter to the Metropolitan requesting that HE rescind the transfer of Fr. Bob to the Diocese of the South and that Fr. Bob go back under the omophorion of the Metropolitan.
Next, the Synod has a statement prepared which is signed by all the bishops present, including Archbishop Dmitri and the Metropolitan.
Folks, the act has already taken place. There can't be any back peddling now, since it's (synodal statement) been signed, sealed and delivered.
My point is, IGNORE the Archbishop's second letter. It's meaningless!! He already requested one thing, agreed to it, signed off on it and now, he's changing his mind? It doesn't work that way Vladyka.
Besides, I find it hard to believe that the Archbishop drafted the letter himself. I'm sure one of the three boys from the old regime now relocated in the Diocese of the South had something to do with it's being drafted. These guys just won't quit.
I may be totally out of line here, but as far as the Church should be concerned, the Synod needs to ignore the letter, stand pat and move on. The issue was already addressed and agreed upon.
I mean, is this so darn complicated and difficult to figure out?
IGNORE THEM. I'm sorry, but it's too late to change your mind. Period.
#21.2 Michael Geeza on 2007-03-25 10:20
I was just about to go to bed, nice and peaceful. I just HAD to take a glance at OCANEWS.org. Bad news will come at whatever hour. Obviously the answer to my question about whether I could afford some cautious optimism is a resounding, "NO!!!" Our editor is not a millimetre wide of the mark, nay, he is SPOT ON, when he calls this "madness." I have always had great respect for His Eminence, Abp. DMITRI, and I very much wish to continue to. I want to figure he really doesn't believe the allegations against the prime suspect. That respect is strained now - very strained, to say the least. Even giving him the benefit of the doubt, I cannot help but believe that he is being acting in a very misguided manner. What, by the way, of the one hierarch who just happened (yeah, right) to miss the Synod meeting? Naught but silence - at least to the public ear. Why can't I help but wonder if that silence is an illusion?
Mr. Nescott is a U.S. Attorney, as I am sure we all know. Surely, he was well aware of the need for appropriate confidentiality, and would take all necessary steps. This is not merely an internal ecclesiastical affair. There is a federal investigation afoot. I should fully expect that he would wish to see that investigation unhampered. He has a sworn duty in general principle. His dubious dismissal from the MC, not to mention the special commission, is an ill portent, and a grave mistake on the Metropolitan's part. I cannot help but suspect that it is precisely his position as a U.S. Attorney that was so threatening.
If you've not read my reflection "A Crisis of Truth," you might find it all the more relevant now. I had almost started to regret writing it. Not anymore. I am also all the more convinced that regardless of how this matter finally resolves itself, Metropolitan HERMAN must step down. Personally, with all due respect to His Eminence, Archbishop JOB, who, I imagine, would be a popular candidate for the primacy, I believe we need someone from outside the OCA. His Eminence has done a spectacular job, and I do not wish to sell him short. I simply believe that in order to truly get past this, we shall need a primate who has had nothing to do with it, who will not be worn down by it, or see matters through the filter of this experience. In short, I believe we need someone who will come with a completely fresh perspective (though a realistic understanding), in order to move us forward; if there is any "us" left, that is.
"Day of wrath, day of mourning; see fulfilled the prophets' warning; heaven and earth in ashes burning…" Hymn from the Latin Requiem Mass
#22 Sine Nomine on 2007-03-25 01:08
Someone from outside? Be careful of what you wish for.....Remember, BP Nikolai came from "outside" and Fr David
( now nominated to be a bishop ) came from really outside!
#22.1 Sophia Weisheit on 2007-03-26 05:04
A true story: during a pilgrimage to various holy sites in Ukraine, one North American visitor got a little lost on the grounds of a rather large monastery. The linguistically-challenged lad's attemptes to ask passing monks for directions earned him shrugs of incomprehension and more than a few strange looks. Why? Because he thought he was saying "De je tserkva (Where's the church)?" What he was actually saying was "De je tsyrk (Where's the circus)?"
It's comforting to see that the gift of prophecy remains among us.
#23 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2007-03-25 03:22
Thanks for the comedic relief! Better to laugh than cry.
#23.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-03-25 09:48
Thank you for the moment of levity! At least one Ukrainian reader was laughing!
#23.2 N. Denysenko on 2007-03-25 10:30
I really don't know what to say or how to go forward from this.
Just once I let go a stream of what I thought about some of this in front of my children. This morning when he woke up (anticipating serving as an alter boy with the Metropolitan this morning) my son asked whether Met Herman is a ... [very rude word that I don't remember actually using]. And I said, no. And I actually believe the answer is no. I also had to explain that the main point is to have respect for the office. It doesn't really compute for an eight year-old this distinction between man and office. Increasingly, it doesn't compute for me.
So off to church. Early because of the episcopal visit. In our newly acquired, long worked for space -- a moment of optimism? a chance for the parish to grow and thrive? Perhaps. But ...
So many 'buts' ...
I was foolish enough to be optimistic based on the Synod statement. Today, I'm not optimistic. I am terribly, terribly sad.
#24 Rebecca Matovic on 2007-03-25 03:55
Comment deleted at writer's request.
#24.1 100th sheep, now wandering off on 2007-03-25 09:28
I hope your brave enough to confront him about his actions, and not just kiss his hand.
#24.2 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-03-25 09:39
Nah -- I just kissed his hand and smiled.
First and foremost -- this was an important day for the parish I joined 2 years ago. Many in that parish have worked for decades to find and purchase a space of our own. With NYC real estate what it is, this has been a struggle.
Today was an important day in the life of the parish -- the first liturgy in our own space. I wouldn't miss it, and I wouldn't mar it with things that are in most part extraneous to the life of the parish (most part -- there have been consequences, and there will be more in the future).
Also I do respect the office, and in this instance he was there to bless a new church. Were I still a parishioner at the Cathedral, I'd follow Bob's advice and simply absent myself when he shows up.
If I hadn't read this stuff this morning, I probably would have talked to him and offered a mixture of encouragement and caution. But knowing where we are now -- well, to what effect would engagement be?
Or maybe that's all an excuse for personal cowardice.
This is a confusing moment for me. The intransigence is so severe that I really don't know where things go from here. Clearly this will drag on at least another year and a half. Clearly there's more controversy and division coming within the Synod. The issues aren't going away, but personally I feel I need to go away from the issues at least for a time. I've lost perspective.
#24.2.1 Rebecca Matovic on 2007-03-25 14:47
Be assured Rebecca, that I have no criticism of your response to MH. Under the circumstances you described, most of us, including myself, would probably have reacted the same way. It is after all the Christian way to behave.
But it does illustrate the difficulty we all face in continuing to enable these unworthy heirarchs to function as our leaders. At some appropriate point, we need to find the ability to "just say no!"
#22.214.171.124 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-03-26 06:22
Rebecca, I take it that you're in the NYC area. There is another choice. When Herman makes an appearance at your parish, go to another - there are more than enough in this area that would welcome you. Do not honor him with your presence or give credence to his soiled and failed episcopacy! Its just feeding the serpent and giving validity to his actions. But even when he's serving in an empty church it won't see it. He doesn't recognize the laity as is, he wouldn't recognize an empty church either! Kucynda would probably tell him the church is packed!
God help us remove this man from your Church!
#24.3 Bob Czech on 2007-03-25 10:07
why is it that MH is trying to get rid of everyone ? Fr. Bob 23 years of being chancellor and his person carrying out all his orders. Things are a little bit more clearer for me. MH orders , if doesn't like how things are going (your fired). Nice system , Kondratick his general and I pray for the new chacellor and all the new oca positions.Nescott speaking his mind , fired for speaking his opinion. I don't know , I remember when church was church. Russia got rid of communism , but not in the oca.Very sad. I feel for all the people who have to be in Herman's rule. God save us all !! Who else will speak out of line , Stalin will fire you.
#25 J.B. on 2007-03-25 04:37
Make no mistake, MH was never Kondratick's real boss. It was the other way around. Kondratick has been pull the marionette strings well before MH became Metropolitan. He and Kondratick have had a rogue's agreement for decades. Agree with you though; whatever the truth, this is a sad time. However, in the sadness there can be joy; joy that the rays of truth may at long last be breaking through on the horizon.
#25.1 Anon. on 2007-03-25 09:17
With this monumentally stupid, political and public relations disaster of a decision, to fire Mr. Nescott and "rehire" Fr. Bob, Metropolitan Herman and his cohorts on the Synod have revealed their true colors to all but the totally blind. The arrogance and vindictiveness of this action are simply breathtaking! The immorality self-evident.
The final battle, i.e. Armageddon, for the soul of the OCA has now begun. Either the forces of light prevail over the forces of darkness, or the remnant of rightousness separates itself from the corrupted body and finds sanctuary elsewhere. Those folks, are the choices--for to acquiesce and tolerate an OCA run by our current leadership is to become part of the "culture of death," which in other circumstances our heirarchs are so quick to deride.
By his actions, Metropolitan Herman, has effectively pleaded "guilty" to enabling Fr. Bob to defraud the OCA. Heaven only knows, at this point, how many other bishops are also complicit, but +Dimitri would seem to be high on the list. They, and probably others, must go if morality is to be restored to our heirarchy.
But how do you make an infallible, unaccountable autocrat *GO*? First you end any financial support whatsoever, especially making sure that you are not giving to other pass through sources. If your parish or diocese will not stop funds to Syosset, stop giving to them.
Secondly, and this is the hard part, we must begin a campaign of confrontation and peaceful protest that may lead in some cases to disobedience. Such leaders have no "right" to our assent to evil. In short, we make their continued rule over us unpleasant, and ultimately untenable.
All of this is difficult, and for many the easier path is to leave the OCA or become inactive. We each must decide if the decision to stay and fight is worth the cost--and there will be costs, as there already have been.
Finally, we need a champion who will not wilt under the glare of Syosset or its handmaiden bishops. Any takers?
#26 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-03-25 06:05
Mark: Mr Nescott is a Federal Prosectutor and is being pushed around like he was the culprit,why can't he initiate or another Prosectutor file charges of this corruption on behalf of the lay people of the OCA.
If not why not?
#27 namewithheld on 2007-03-25 06:23
Why does +D want newly elected +Benjamin to head the investigation? Just curious if anyone knows. Thanks, Eric
#28 Eric on 2007-03-25 07:32
Because Bishop Benjamin is young and the old powers will ride him like a rudder.
#28.1 unnamed on 2007-03-25 18:09
"Why does +D want newly elected +Benjamin to head the investigation? Just curious if anyone knows. Thanks, Eric"
While it is impossible to know Archbishop Dmitri's mind unless he talks, I think it might be becasue Bishop Benjamin is one of thise who just wants to forget about all of this stuff and move forward. This is not to say that Bishop Benjamin thinks what has been happening is good. He seems to be like the doctor who wants to leave a bullet in place rather than traumatize a body by trying to dig it out. I think he means well and is genuinely a good man and has been a faithful pastor to my family. But I think he is mistaken in this matter.
But my conversation (via email) with him was before he was appointed to the special commission. I do not know if what he learned while serving on that commission changed his mind. I did notice that there was no reporting of anything he might have said during the meeting of the Holy Synod.
Two literary passages come to mind:
"A glooming peace this morning with it brings,
The sun for sorrow shall not show his head.
Go hence, and have no more talk of these sad things;
some shall be pardoned, and some punishčd.
For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo."
"One Ring to rule them all,
One Ring to find them;
One Ring to bring them all
And in the darkness bind them;
In the land of Mordor, where the shadows lie."
Maybe its just me, but the substitutions seem easy to make.
#29 Sine Nomine on 2007-03-25 09:38
If we had any doubt about the ecclesiology of Metropolitan HERMAN, we have none today. Why did he, along with Archbishop DIMITRI, find it necessary to lie to us in their "Archpastoral letter"?
I was prepared to follow them, having believed the letter. Obviously, folly on my part.
I anxiously await Archbishop JOB's comments on this most recent turn of events.
Perhaps it's time for the commission to release the report themselves.
Perhaps it's time for the faithful to begin boycotting the events, including episcopal consecrations, where unfaithful Bishops are serving. It is time to force the hierarchy to realize we love the Church, we love our Faith, but we are no longer following them.
To His Eminence, Archbishop JOB, Master bless!
Vladika, you now have all the evidence needed to withhold assessments from Syosset.
Vladika, I cannot speak for the remainder of your God-protected Diocese. But for me, and those I know, we are prepared to follow your lead. Return us, please, to the Orthodox Catholic Church, wherever you find it.
kissing your hand,
your servant the Subdeacon JohnMartin
Martin D. Watt, CPA (Inactive)
#30 Marty Watt on 2007-03-25 11:02
I too think that all means of getting to the truth internally are now exhausted. It is my belief that Archbishop Job and the Special Commission should circumvent the Metropolitan and the Holy Synod and reveal their findings to the Church. It cannot get any worse from here.
#30.1 Karina Ross on 2007-03-25 12:26
Perhaps as a convert I see things a bit differently. Are we not not now in this present mess because of the actions or inactions of the Bishops and the Metropolitan? While I commend Bishop Job for standing up to MH, we should not forget that Bishop Job has admitted that he was himself a part of the problem for years.
I am not ready to plunge after the first Bishop who looks as if he might do the right thing. I am not ready to plunge after any hierarch at this point. Why should we expect Bishop Job to magically extract the OCA from the swamp in which its adminstration has mired it? Post after post points out that the hierarchy is woefully estranged from reality. We laity are in a position to make constructive suggestions, and we should be making them, not wringing our hands and expecting the Bishop to wave a magic wand and make everything better.
The idea of kissing anyone's ring right now is distasteful. At this point, trust needs to be earned, not bestowed as a birthright.
#30.2 anonymous on 2007-03-25 20:50
I agree with you,as I have posted my concerns, about diving into the water not knowing how deep the water.
How can anyone desecrate ST. HERMAN, by taking on that Holy name, and so blatantly, doing opposite of what the Saint stood for.
We need to find a way FIRE +H. We have no other options.
What a hand the Evil One has dealt to his players!
And they have played it well for him!
Where self will is... God's Will isnt
These desperate fallen humans are more inclined to cling to their golden panagias than to seek the Will of the Father... at any cost, even unto the death of the OCA
I seen Satan fitting the road to hell with gilded holes for their skulls
If our so called "Ecclessiastical authority" wont do the right thing then maybe its time for our civil authority to step in and correct the situation?
I have never been so fearful of and for my church
I find it necessary to revert back to my faith as was given me by babushka and batiushka GERASIM
#31 Ted Panamarioff on 2007-03-25 11:29
Obviously, comments, complaints and cries from entangled sheep mean nothing to deaf shepherds. If Archbbp Job can still "hear," NOW is the time to make good on the resolution of his diocesan flock to stop the flow of money that feeds the ongoing corruption. It's the last option for any shred of archpastoral leadership that remains. Lead us, Archbp Job, and we will follow. Turn off the faucet of poisoned water and force the truth through the spigot!
#32 Itching Ears on 2007-03-25 11:59
I just cannot fathom how Herman could dismiss a US Attorney from his post.
Joe sure has some royal jewels.
I agree with the posting above, stop all monies that go into the OCA and demand a resignation, or take your parish (by majority vote) to a new home in Orthodoxy.
I pray for Joe Swaiko, that the inmates will assist him in his integration to prison when his day comes.
#33 K.K. on 2007-03-25 12:56
I have an incredible sense of deja vu. Sadly, the actions of Black Friday too closely resemble the events of the "Saturday night Massacre" during the Watergate scandal.
I believe, Brothers and Sisters, we may be seeing the beginning of the end. How incredibly sad. But as with a forest fire, following the destruction, there is renewal. God Help Us All.
#34 Victor Borzkowski on 2007-03-25 12:58
To The Holy Synod of Bishops:
Your Eminence and Your Graces,
I trust that you all remember the sad day in 1978 on which hundreds of followers of Jim Jones, the former pastor of the People’s Temple, drank poisoned KoolAid at his command and died. How much more fortunate are they, who lost only the life of their bodies, than we are, who have been given the command to drink the spiritually poisoned “Koolaid” you have given us so that we may, as you have, lose our souls. You have entered the tomb of death by your lies and silence, and you invite us to enter with you as our archpastors. “By observing vanities and lies you have forsaken your own mercy.” My prayer is that none of your flocks will follow you into that tomb, and that they will choose life. Your Paschal greetings will ring hollow, “Christ is Risen” will go no further than the walls of your tomb. Those of us who choose life will celebrate the Resurrection of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ with a joy that not even your deceit can diminish, even though many of us are immensely sorrowful that you thought you could corrupt Christ’s Church and that you have unremittingly attacked all those who sought to heal our Church, Deacon Eric, Bishop Job, and now Mr. Nescott. God willing, I hope the Orthodox faithful will be willing to confront you and demand that you tell the truth. May God have as much mercy on your souls as He has had on me, a sinner. Alice Carter, Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral, Boston
#35 Alice Carter on 2007-03-25 14:05
+THIS EVENT IS A CAUSE FOR OPTIMISM+
Last week it seemed the only reason RSK would appear before the Synod was to plan a show for the hoi polloi that would allow the cash to keep flowing. Last week the idea that our leaders had real concern for the flock or honest intentions was unrealistic optimism. Last week some feared the battle for our church would be lengthened by some clever ploy by the church administration and Synod.
Who could have guessed how deep their disdain for Christ's church really is. At last the level of depravity is clear and a gulf has been fixed between those who have destroyed the OCA and the faithful. A chasm which can not be bridged with the false hope they will see the light and "Do the right thing." if we give them the opportunity. We need no longer pretend that time or a call to conscience will change the OCA's situation they have dramatically demonstrated it will not.
The garment of trust that is required for a functioning church has been rent, and we are now left with previously unimaginable options. We can retreat like cowering dogs or come to grips with the fact that if we are to witness transformation in the OCA we must take assertive action. The only action which these tyrants will respond to is removing the base of their power. Cutting off the funds that support the corruption is no longer a possible tactic, it is a moral imperative.
How sad and tawdry the OCA must appear to others. For those of us who envision an Orthodox church in North America which actually embraces its mission and lives th4e commandments of Christ how heartbreaking. How hard it must have become for many to continue to embrace Orthodoxy with the OCA as an example. How difficult it must be for many to even attend their own parish services this lent in locations where supporters of the Holy(?) Synod, the +MH and the ruling cabal hold sway.
I would be easy to despair and feel we have been abandoned by our Shepherd, but this is simply not the case. If the OCA is to rise from its brokenness, the rank and file must be Christ's steadfast instruments. There is simply no other process that will work because our leaders care nothing for us.
Jesus cares for us and the church, what else would He have us do but ACT? Today’s OCA is a pilgrim beaten by robbers and left for dead at the side of the road. We can either cross the street or see to its care.
The least among us must rise to action. Those who consider themselves great among us have demonstrated they are unworthy servants of God. They do evil and justify their corrupt actions by saying they are good and acting in the name of our Lord. We must acknowledge our own weakness and unworthiness but remove the deliberate workers of iniquity from leadership rolls in God’s church.
Our path will require bravery and steadfast effort. Metropolitan Herman has threatened all of us. He has warned us to return to "good order" knowing that disturbing the "good order" of the church is grounds for excommunicating a lay person; a card he may yet play because in his mind, and that of most of the members of the synod, "good order" equates to sycophancy and blind obedience.
We can be optimistic because the path of opposition is so much clearer today then it was three days ago and the likelihood that the rank and file of the church will stand up and root out the evil core is far greater. These evil times grow shorter.
#36 Jay Holman on 2007-03-25 14:16
Jay and others posting here and across other Orthodox forums have zeroed in on a very effective way to quickly send a message to the OCA leadership and fight against the evil and corruption we're seeing. I have been saying this since 2001 when I realized the leadership of the Diocese of the West treated our community with the same disdain, indifference, and disregard that we see from +Herman and his cohorts.
ALL, and I mean ALL Financial support of the OCA MUST STOP now! Only support the local priest (if he is worthy and not actually perpetuating this evil and corruption also) and the local parish via means that do not allow even a penny to make it into the Syosset coffers. This is now the only effective and short-term response that can send the message to evil men who simply cannot discern the truth and simply cannot behave ethically and morally any longer. Since ego, money and power are the driving factors that motivates their actions, then our collective Intervention needs to stop the money that feeds their habit and try to somehow force then to enter rehab and retire.
As Jay correctly pointed out: "The only action which these tyrants will respond to is removing the base of their power. Cutting off the funds that support the corruption is no longer a
possible tactic, it is a moral imperative."
It is indeed a critical MORAL IMPERATIVE. Continuing to hide your heads in the sand and sending money to the OCA makes everyone complicit in protecting, promoting, and spreading evil and contributing to the moral and spiritual destruction of the Holy Orthodox Church in America.
#36.1.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-03-26 06:02
The struggle for most seems to be the only way to cease giving to the OCA is to cease giving to the parish. Either way, the assessments come for the remainder of this year. Is there a way to give to support our local parish without having some of the money go to Syosset? I can't seem to find any.
While it would have no impact on FY07, I would think resigning from the parish (and therefore not being included in the parish headcount) would prevent monies from going to Syosset, and also allow the "parishoner" to continue to give at the parish level. We don't pay assessments on "visitors", even regular visitors who are Orthodox and partake of the sacraments. Parish Council members and clergy would need to remain members in order to retain parish representation at diocesean and All-American councils.
As long as this strategy will not jeopardize the reception of the sacraments by these individuals, would this idea work? At a minimum, the resignations copied to the diocese would send a strong statement.
Sdn. John Martin
Martin D. Watt, CPA (Inactive)
#36.1.2 Marty Watt on 2007-03-26 11:49
This seems like it would be a good solution...but wasn't "Fair Share" instituted at the last AAC because Syosset suspected parishes of underpaying assessments by calling regular attendees visitors instead of members? Or something like that...? I have no idea how they would, in practice, go about checking reported numbers though. I also would want Syosset to know why I was dropping my membership.
#126.96.36.199 Rachel Andreyev on 2007-03-27 21:38
How appropriate is it that the latest development in this tragedy (in what seems as our hierarchs bringing the OCA closer to its eventual demise) occurs on the eve of the beginning of the Week of Palms, the week the Orthodox Church, in its liturgical hymnography, reflects and meditates on the worsening illness and eventual death of Jesus’ friend, “the man whom you love”, Lazarus?
Jesus remarks to his friends when he first hears of Lazarus’ illness, “This sickness will not end in death, but it is for God’s glory so that the Son of God may be glorified." As the illness and death of Lazarus was for God’s glory, maybe too, this illness of the OCA will also be for the ultimate glory of God.
Jesus remarks in this same passage, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? No one who walks in the daytime stumbles, having the light of this world to see by; anyone who walks around at night stumbles, having no light as a guide.” Well, the twelve hours of day light are over, we are now in the night and the stumbling continues.
The mention of night and darkness reminds us of another gospel passage, one that we will hear read in church, in about a week and a half, read in the center of our churches by those same individuals who have led us into this night and darkness. The meal is prepared, the bread is dipped into the supper dish, the betrayer eats. The Master says “What you are going to do, do quickly.” The betrayer leaves the table and goes out. “It was night.”
Jesus is betrayed by an apostle and disciple, betrayed for 30 pieces of silver. Once again, today, the Body of Christ is betrayed, this time by a “successor” to the apostles, betrayed once again for love of money (albeit, for a little more than 30 pieces of silver!)
We are now confronted with the same decision faced by that small, frightened band on that dark and sorrowful night, that night when evil had seemed to reign supreme. Do we, like them, run, flee, and hide in terror of the religious authorities? Or, do we stand firm and confront the evil? I think the answer is very clear.
#37 Ben Kalemba on 2007-03-25 14:46
A few years ago ...Met Theodosious referred to the ROCOR as an insignifigant little gourp and not a part of world Orthodoxy..
boy....what comes around goes around
#38 abe scott on 2007-03-25 16:18
To Whom It May Concern: have just located our missing barrel of black gunpowder..........there's a guy in a black cassock and a long white hat sitting on it.........can someone ask him to move so we can have it back?
#38.1 Metropolitan Gunpowder Co., Inc. on 2007-03-25 18:29
An Open Letter to the Diocese of the South Priests:
Glory to Jesus Christ!
No doubt like everyone else in the OCA you have followed the events surrounding the financial scandal and leadership failure of our beleaguered church. In as much as we all are part of the same OCA, you must share in the same agony as the rest of us as we watch the Metropolitan Council and Special Commission have to labor to get to the truth and then struggle to make the truth known to the Church through the Synod of Bishops. The OCA needs your help and your input. Your bishop is blocking the process by which Fr. Kondratick should be held accountable for his scandalous actions as Chancellor of the OCA. There is rumor to the effect that your bishop influenced by Fr. Fester is asking for Fr. Brum to be made a vicar bishop of your diocese. Fr. Fester and Fr. Brum were intimately involved in the goings on at Syosset through the years of financial mismanagement and scandal. Are you all going to sit quietly and accept these actions from your bishop? Are there no courageous men among you to question your bishop about his actions and behavior? Are you going to become the haven for all the refugees from the Syosset scandal? Is this what the missionary Diocese of the South is about? You can help us all by expressing your displeasure and disagreement with your bishop and protesting any effort to impose a bishop which you have not elected. If you choose silence now you will find yourself controlled by the very people who fled Syosset when the scandal was exposed.
#39 A Brother Priest on 2007-03-25 17:55
I have witheld my comments since all this began, but now I have had it! Our Synod of Bishops are no better than the Latins who squelched horrendous reports of clergy malfeasance "for the sake of the people." Nonsense! It is high time that the members of our Synod come to realize that they are accountable for their actions. Or is all this just a game for them? I plan to advise my rector and parish treasurer in writing that I will personally withold all donations to the OCA until something resemblind sanity returns to our hierarchy. God bless his Eminence Archbishop Job abd those of like mind who still know what integrity is.
#40 Reader Stephen Bradford on 2007-03-25 18:38
I dont profess to be an expert on Orthodox Church history, but I would venture to say that throughout our history it has often been the case that laypersons have stepped up to the plate and acted with courage and selflessness to defend the Church in times of moral and spiritual crisis. Now is such a time. The Church is the sum of its parts and what makes it unique is its ability to survive any onslaught of Satan. The gates of hells will NOT prevail against the Church.
God always brings forth men like Greg Nescott to wield the Sword of the Spirit. The truth always ultimately prevails and it will again in these dark days.
What is so alarming is that these men obviously have NO fear of God! We will all stand before the Lord Jesus Christ on that great and awesome Day of Judgment and by virtue of their gifts and responsibilities, the hierarchs will be held to a higher standard than the rest of us. It is truly a frightening and sobering thought to wonder what will become of these men who have made a mockery of the Holy Church and the sheep who innocently followed their leadership.
We need to pray for their souls!
#41 Rich Kendall on 2007-03-25 20:24
"This is restoring order?"
Without love, there can be no order.
#42 Christopher Eager on 2007-03-25 21:19
These latest happenings are truly astounding.
It seems that the Metropolitan fears his flock more than he loves them -- i.e., fears what they may do, or possibly find out. Thus, Mr. Nescott is removed from the Commission and Metropolitan Council. Who is next -- whoever is on the "wrong team" and dares to ask for the truth? Mark, I imagine that if you were not in the Diocese of the Midwest, this site would have been silenced long ago.
It is difficult to see any pastoral love emanating from the Metropolitan and much of the Synod. If that love is there, it is well hidden.
At this point I do not see how the Metropolitan and much of the Synod can be taken seriously. The Metropolitan's leadership has ceased to be effective. The people need a new leader, but unfortunately it seems that the Metropolitan and some on the Synod may be thinking that "the leaders need a new people"!! A play on words, maybe, but such pathologic thinking is suggestive of totalitarian leaders throughout history, not of Christian Bishops.
I agree with the others that ALL contributions to the central church must stop. It is unfortunate because we know of MANY strong OCA parishes with warm parishioners and loving pastors -- somehow these parishes and their honorable priests must be supported, but how, in good conscience, can any Christian support the central administration anymore? I do not even understand why the OCA needs a central administration -- a humble, meager, central church operating from one of the monasteries is really all that is needed.
"Christ's divine humiliation on the Cross" we will be singing of in a few weeks. The Metropolitan does not seem to be leading by divine humility. Indeed, his actions scream of pride. Why is he so afraid of his people?
Ineffective leaders need to be switched out. I realize that the church is not a democracy. Is halting monetary support the best option?
Prayers are of course needed for ALL involved, but as priest once told me, "prayers are also a call to action."
Gregg Gerasimon MD MAJ,MC,USA
#43 Gregg Gerasimon on 2007-03-26 07:15
At first I sputtered and fumed, and if anyone were in the same room as I read about Black Friday on my computer, they probably would have seen black smoke emanate from my ears.
Can the Metropolitan Council reject the dismissal of Greg Nescott? And insist that he participate, be reinstated? Does the MC have that right, the authority, the moxie to challenge the Metropolitan on this matter?
In several of my previous postings I tried to find the silver lining to each dark cloud that passed by and to give encouragement to Syosset when there was progress. I wanted desperately to give Metropolitan Herman the chance to turn this scandal around and to clean up the mess or at least make a start. The only silver lining I see to Nescott’s dismissal is that it radicalizes us, which is why I am adding my voice to the growing list of those who are calling for the Metropolitan to stand down “for the good of the church.” It isn’t because Herman is insensitive, inept, and soiled as a complicit partner in the creation of the scandal – he’s all of that. It is because the man is a jerk, but not a fool or a dope, because some extremely clever people can be jerks. Herman is not an unintelligent man, nor unlearned, nor even unschooled in the social amenities. He is jerk because of a fatal flaw that should not be in any cleric, much less a bishop or primate – he is, in the words of Sidney J. Harris, a columnist for the Chicago Daily News who attempted to define the word “jerk” and differentiate it from other slang words, as a person, “totally incapable of looking into the mirror of his own soul and shuddering at what he sees there.” [Last Things First, 1961]
Herman’s actions betray his ministry, denigrate any legacy that he may have had, and scandalize the faithful to breaking points. If the faithful of the Greek Archdiocese of North America can de-throne Spiridon, we can unseat + The Charlatan. Allons enfants!
#44 Terry C. Peet on 2007-03-26 07:16
Your sentiments, particularly the last, resonated with me. The Greeks appealed to the Ecumenical Patriarchate to remove Spyridon, which was done. The Archbishop of the Greek Archdiocese is a member of that Synod, however -- the Greeks do not have self-rule. The Antiochians have self-rule, but not independence from the Patriarchate of Antioch. Metropolitan PHILIP still sits in the Synod of Bishops of the Patriarchate of Antioch.
If we are to have action, it must come from our Bishops, in our Synod. This is why Abp. JOB's leadership in this regard is so critical. With no voice on the Synod, we have no chance. As it is, the lines are tightly drawn. Mark and others may have more insight, but I believe there are two Synod members in the reform group, three (including MH) in the "change? what is change?" group, and the others an eerily slent middle, either too new, too sick, or too "ethnic" to be involved.
I'd like to stress again -- there is no way for the laity to canonically unseat a bishop. We can vote with our feet, and our pocketbooks, but we cannot remove the Synod en masse.
We need the reformers on the Synod, if the Church is to be salvaged. And they need to know they have our support. We have nowhere to appeal, except to God in prayer.
The beauty of Christianity is while the Synod, or a subset of the Synod, spends our inheritance like the prodigal son, it is the parish that incarnates Christ in this world. We need to keep remembering that, and refuse to define ourselves by our Bishop. We need to define ourselves as incarnating Christ in our communities. The folks in Syosset, to my knowledge, have done precious little to bring Christ to the world, in fact, quite the opposite. So I say, who needs them? They serve no purpose. I call again for devolution, and the primacy of the diocese. Met. HERMAN is first among EQUALS. Not potentate or caliph of the American Orthodox.
And I can't find anywhere in the statute where the Metropolitan is automatically Diocesean Bishop of New York and New Jersey and Washington, DC. The statute only demands that the Metropolitan be one of the Diocesean Bishops.
When was HERMAN elected to the Diocesean See of New York, New Jersey, and Washington, DC? Did I sleep through something again?
Sdn. John Martin Watt
Martin D. Watt, CPA (Inactive)
#44.1 Marty Watt on 2007-03-26 17:56
I know and agree with your response. To answer the last question, Herman was diocesan bishop of the tiny Diocese of Washington, when upon the retirement of Peter of New York and New Jersey in 2005, the two dioceses were joined into one with the ruling hierarch of Washington becoming the hierarch of the combined diocese.
#44.1.1 Terry C. Peet on 2007-03-27 10:11
I think the latest event made it absolutely clear that +Herman cannot remain the Metropolitan any longer.
#45 Andrey Lvovskiy on 2007-03-26 07:24
This is my first post. After Black Friday I feel compelled to be part of the large number of people protesting on this site. Do they think we are such fools? Mark, I so greatly appreciate this site and your work. Mark, please update us as to the criminal investigation into these thefts. These are blatant criminal acts with not a single sign of remorse. Not one penny more from me! Do you hear me? Do you hear us?
#46 Please withold my name on 2007-03-26 08:24
All that is necessary for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing. But for evil to prevail as thoroughly and persistently as it has here, it must have taken the long-term active co-operation of those who somehow have continued to think of themselves as good men, crying "peace, peace" when there is no peace.
Nevertheless, as another poster said, don't be too quick to wish for replacement bishops-- there are opportunists lurking about the edges and even within the sheepfold, even now. Perhaps better the wolves we know than the wolves we don't.
I do not know Abp. Job at all, but to complain that he should have spoken up sooner is not useful to the church now as we try to find our way out of this maze of sin and falsehood. We do not need to look to this one hierarch to solve this problem by himself, but surely it is not misplaced to be grateful that he has taken action even at the eleventh hour, to hope that he will continue to stand with those demanding truth and change, and pray that God will use him. We do not need our leaders in this crisis to be spotless paragons-- those are in short supply, and have always been in this fallen world. We only need them to be penitent-- and courageous. Would that the rest of the Holy Synod would follow Abp. Job's lead, even as late in the crisis as this.
#47 just an OCA member on 2007-03-26 08:38
Not only that, but why is a pastoral letter being written by a lawyer in the first place?!?
ANAXIOS! ANAXIOS! ANAXIOS!
#48 Priest Christopher Wojcik on 2007-03-26 08:47
That's an exceptionally good question! I wish I'd asked it!
#48.1 Lawyer Thaddeus Wojcik on 2007-03-27 02:11
Mark, I misspoke in my last post and I need to correct my glaring error. What I meant to say was, ANAXIOS! ANAXIOS! ANAXIOS! Thanks for printing the correction.
What a dark and sad day for our dear Orthodox Church in America! I have been a member of the Diocese of the South for 10 years. I think of all the mission priests who have served for little or even no pay in order to establish the Church here and their great sacrifices. I think of the dedicated Matushki who worked outside the home so that their husbands could afford to be mission priests. I think of the small missions where parishoners literally took out second mortgages on their homes to finance the building of a small, humble church. When I think of all these sacrifices, all this ascetic effort put into the building of our Diocese, I am shocked, saddened, perplexed and profoundly depressed that our Metropolitan and our Archbishop are protecting the person who has stolen millions of dollars from Church funds. What is the point in protecting such an individual, unless they are involved as well? I can think of no other reason. I have a suspicion that Kondratick defenders support him because they don't want the truth about their involvement in this scandal to be known either. How can we as a Church expect God to bless us if we hide and suppress the truth? Have we no fear of God? Have we no shame? Do our hierarchs take us for fools? This is an open scandal and cannot be swept under the rug. I do take comfort in the fact the God has raised up Bishop Job to call us all to repentance. It depresses me how the Holy Synod seems to be working in concert against Bishop Job now. This is disgraceful. Lord have mercy on us all.
St. John of the Ladder Church
#50 Tikhon Griffin on 2007-03-26 09:13
Dear Archbishop JOB, Master, bless!
Dear Gregg Nescott and Mark Stokoe,
Please continue in your steadfast efforts to save our beloved church. It takes great courage to stand up for truth in the manner which you each have demonstrated, as evil ones throw rocks at you. You are the hope for restoring integrity and truth to the church. Do not be discouraged. We are praying for you. May God continue to give you strength and bless your efforts.
A lifelong Orthodox Christian
#51 please withhold on 2007-03-26 09:35
Thank you very much for taking the time to edit this website and to keep us informed about this horror scene. I have kept silent until now but at this point I am sure the rocks are even crying out in protest. May God have mercy on the OCA!
I thank you, Mr. Nescott, Deacon Wheeler, Archbishop Job, and the many others who are men of courage - actively confronting this Scandal in order to restore integrity and Truth to the OCA. My prayers are with all of you during this difficult time.
Respectfully, In Christ,
David Mario Capparuccini
#52 David Capparuccini on 2007-03-26 09:56
Having just now read your article about Black Friday for the second time, and having read all the many words, mostly very wise and true, that others have written in anguish regarding the situation, I have only one short thought to express here. Yes, it is madness, iwhat is going on, if these people --+Herman and Fr. Kucynda and the Synod -- expect to preserve this OCA, but, when all is said and done, what we are really seeing here is very simple: Business as Usual. Cate
#53 Cate on 2007-03-26 10:05
The comments by Chris Banescu, Esq., #36.1 (Threaded) or # 62.
I feel they are excellent answers to the question that you asked (about your local priest).
(“Where do we go from here and what do we do when the parish
priest never talks about the situation in Syosset?”)
#54 Ande on 2007-03-26 10:08
Eis Polla Eti Despota, Your Eminence Archbishop Dimitri. For whatever wrong Fr. Bob did in trying to Build Up the Body of Christ in the Orthodox Church in America, let us forgive him as he continues to work very hard to Build Up the Body of Christ in his new parish in Venice Florida. If Fr. Bob is guilty of anything, he is guilty of working too hard and wanting to much for the Orthodox Church in America, a body which he has given much of his life and soul for too many years. In my many years of church service and having the privilege of working with and knowing Fr. Bob, no one has left a more lasting impression of "service above self" then this individual. "Nailing him to the cross" after a year of humiliation and personal agony if unconscionable. I support His Beatitude's decision to remove him from his position last year and I continue to support our primate's actions to restore integrity and accountibility to our national Church. God Bless all of the clergy across North America who have maintained the spiritual life of their individual parishes in spite our our current crisis.
#55 John Kruchok on 2007-03-26 10:20
Thanks John. A note of sanity and light
#55.1 Anonymous on 2007-03-27 05:20
Slowly, but surely, the forces of Fr. Kondratick and MH/Synod come together and "kiss one another!"
#55.1.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-03-27 08:52
My brothers and sisters in Christ:
I am appalled yet somehow not surprised by all of these events. God help me, I am finally coming, very late, to the extraordinarily difficult realization that none of the "players" even remotely fear God. The only thing they fear are the civil authorities. And, hard as it is to accept, I now believe that the only way out of this abominable situation, is for indictments to be handed down, ALL the players to be arrested, charged, tried, convicted and JAILED. Unfortunately, it seems to be the only way out of this disaster.
Withholding funds to Syosset will be of little use since they are sitting on MILLIONS of dollars in convertable real estate and not just the Griswold estate either. St. Tikhon's has, I understand, several rental properties, Alaska has how much land, etc., etc., etc.
I'm not suggesting that withholding funds is a bad idea. On the contrary, it is a VERY GOOD idea. But, if we are to rescue the OCA from Satan and all of his minions, I'm beginning to realize that we will have to ask the civil authorities for help. Maybe (I stress maybe) then, we can rid our Church of all of this poison and greed.
Most Holy Theotokos, SAVE US!
#56 Alexander Ivsky on 2007-03-26 11:55
Your comment about withholding funds from Syosset sounds reasonable. To keep them from selling church property might require some injunctions to tie up the property in court for a while. Just keep hitting them with legalities until they wear out. Actually, it is better to let the properties go and retain the OCA inviolate. Another problem is the selection of bishops, etc, as these 'old' ones go the way of all flesh. Who does the OCA have in the wings to replace them?
#56.1 Yanni on 2007-03-26 17:11
Just wanted to point out that this website can't be the New York Times' front page. Seeing BLACK FRIDAY automatically made me think the worst, discounting all the very small, but nevertheless, steps of progress made for accountability. Things have happened and progress has been made- this is not the end of the world. Also, look what has happened in the past months. Look at how the Holy Synod met as brothers finally without trying to have people step down. This in itself is something to find hope in. No doubt we can't just let this crisis slip by, but we also need to cure it in love, not in fear. I think headlines like this are making the mass of people who only read the headlines create a false reality and a loss of hope. We as Orthodox Christians need to understand the full picture, take things in context and realize how to go about curing this horrible disease in love. Anything else is just vanity.
#57 Nick Love on 2007-03-26 12:10
My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Once upon a time there was an Emperor, who, over the course of his reign had surrounded himself with synchophants, who were either that at the outset or became brown-nosers over time (for fear of Dire Consequences). The Emperor was rather besotted with himself, and wanted everyone in the empire to admire him as much as he admired himself!
So, in the course of things, he hired a couple of 'tailors', whose woven fabrics were 'meet and right' for Such An Important Emperor. They worked and slaved, and crafted the most superb garments for the Emperor to wear. All of his court ooohhhed and aaawwwwed as he went for each fitting, and the emerging lavishness and exquisite workmanship and painstaking details (i.e. the costly jewels and metallic threads) during each stage simply bowled them over.
At the final fitting they were speechless. Never could they have imagined their Emperor clothed in such extreme...magnificence! Never could they have imagined that he would expose his imperial nature in quite this way!
The Emperor was extraordinarily pleased. Finally, the ultimate in appropriateness of garment for his Exalted State. He would graciously share his magnificence with the mere laypeople of his empire by having a ($25,000?!) parade. He was SO looking forward to their bowing and humble submissiveness--now EVEYONE, even the rabble-rousers, would be forced to acknowledge him as Supreme.
Parade Day came. Mere laypeople lined the streets. Handlers with cue cards reading "applause" "wild cheering" "wolf whistles" were standing by, just in case those (somewhat stupid) mere laypeople didn't 'get it'.
You know the rest of this story. It was one little boy who pointed out not the extreme magnificence of the Emperor and his new clothes, but rather the Extreme Nakedness of the (self-styled) Emperor.
Black Friday was Parade Day for the OCA and its 'Emperor'. You are exposed, 'Emperor', and it's not a pretty sight.
What you see as your "right":
(overheard at an AAC awhile ago from your lips: "Rank has its privileges" as you and another bishop pushed past your flock to be the first and only on an elevator that others had been a long time waiting for);
your "reality": (heard twice from your mouth on a graduation day at SVS: "...whether you become priests or remain mere laypeople");
your "power": hide the truth, get rid of people who oppose me,
suppress the whole notion of independent thought and analysis among Orthodox Believers;
are FALSE. They've always been false, and always will be false, because they are NOT of JESUS CHRIST and HIS gospel (i.e., not yours.)
So, that makes your episcopacy false, your monastic 'vocation"??? false, and your priesthood false. What in the world are you doing, Pretender to the Throne? Nothing of GOD, nothing of LOVE (funny how the two go together), nothing of His SPIRIT (um, what are those 'fruits of the Spirit' again? Oh yeah: hospitality, kindness, meekness, truth, patience...longsuffering). The children of Beslan, and the almost-receipients of the Christmas Stockings, as well as the 9/11 victims--hey--I think they're the ones with the longsuffering imposed on them by YOU.
Begone! Depart! You aren't even a shadow of what you were meant to be as our shepherd!
"Absolute power corrupts absolutely." --George Orwell, 1984
It sure did.
A story once posted on the internet told of an old Indian man who told his little grandson that a battle rages within each of us between two wolves, one evil and one righteous. The little boy asked him, “which one wins?” The grandfather said, “the one you feed!”
If our hierarchs don’t know how to stop feeding the evil wolf, perhaps we should help them by not supporting them in this destructive behavior.
#59 Betty on 2007-03-26 14:18
As a relatively young member of the church I do not proclaim to possess a deep wisdom or knowledge concerning the teachings of the church. I am 19 years old and I am the first to admit that each passing moment is a spiritual struggle. It is with this understanding of my limited knowledge that I was perplexed to say the least with the unfolding of recent events. How could they, the leaders of our faith, have missed it? Surely they must know? Surely they must know what they are doing! Had the hierarchy of our church failed to listen to their Sunday school teachers? Were they completely oblivious to the traditions of the faith? My disbelief called to mind a fairly recent occurrence.
One afternoon before participating in confession my young cousin came to me teary eyed and asked, “Do I really have to tell the priest everything that I have done?”
Together we sat on the stoop outside of the chapel as I pondered how to answer her question. The answer I gave her was the same answer once given to me as a young Sunday school student.
“Adam and Eve couldn’t hide from God when they were in the garden and neither can we,” I told her. “How do you feel right now? I would imagine you feel pretty badly carrying around that sin locked up inside of you. The damage of holding that sin inside of you feels a lot worse than confessing it and letting it go. I have felt that way many times before confession, but the feeling afterwards is so wonderful that you tend to forget how difficult or uncomfortable it was to tell the priest your sin. You’ll be a lot happier when you let it go, and it will make God happy too.”
“I know,” she sighed as she stood up and opened the doors to the chapel.
Sometime afterwards, I beheld the lighthearted girl skipping from the chapel.
She ran to me and professed, “I told him! Now it is gone! I don’t have to carry it inside of me anymore!”
An eight year-old grasps this concept and the hierarchy does not. How can we as Christians ever hope to reconcile with God if these sins are kept locked inside? From childhood to adulthood confession is a very painful and uncomfortable experience. There is nothing as humiliating or ugly as professing your shortcomings in front of not only a fellow member of the faithful, but in front of the Lord himself. Yet it is this unpleasant and often dreaded act that is a holy sacrament in the life of the church. In every situation we must strive to do what is right, even if it is difficult and painful. Would a sick patient refuse a curing medicine because the side affects include dry mouth and dizziness? I think not. The right path to follow is one that will be both harsh and challenging, yet its difficulty does not alter that fact that it is the proper course of action. If neither Adam nor Eve, nor the eight-year old girl, nor I a sinner, can hide things from the Almighty God, how can the hierarchy of our church attempt to? These grievances should not and cannot be concealed. I hope and pray that we move to reconcile both with one another and with the Lord.
For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.
#60 Anonymous on 2007-03-26 14:41
I need advice on how and to whom to voice my concerns when my bishop is +Herman?
#61 ANON on 2007-03-26 15:06
I'm sure a lot of people are in the same situation. The first person you should go to is you father confessor/pastor, or if you can't go to him for some reason, I would suggest that you talk to another priest, someone you can trust.
#61.1 Name withheld on 2007-03-27 05:30
As an American Orthodox Christian not in the OCA, I think that all of our immigrant bretheren must be scratching their heads over how such a smart bunch of Americans have been unable to use the wonderful grass-roots forum of the internet to fuel a concrete democratic response to their troubles. When the federal indictments come down and men in very expensive hats are led to trial, nobody in mainstream America is going to say "Oh, that's just the OCA administration, those people don't represent the whole Orthodox Church." The administratively disunited Orthodox in this country are going to appear very united indeed. In light of this, and instead of hand-wringing pleas for "someone [else]" to stand up and lead us," here's a simple, utterly concrete thing everyone reading this site can do.
1) Print and clip out the coupon attached below.
2) Submit it, and it alone (i.e. NO money), to your OCA parish's collection basket this Palm Sunday.
3) Repeat as necessary.
4) Watch what happens.
+ My O.C.A. parish of _______________________ +
+ Date: +
+ I --- - -
+ I - - - - One week's donation
+ I - - - -
+ I --- ------
+ To be redeemed when and only when:
1. Herman Swaiko is deposed/defrocked/and or forcibly retired
+ 2. The Special Commission Report is revealed to the Church
in a legal manner.
3. (optional) __________________
+ THIS ACTION TAKEN FOR THE GOOD OF THE CHURCH.
+ BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD.
#62 a recovering EPA'er on 2007-03-26 15:37
I'd take this one step further, and have each parishoner send a postcard addressed to Syosset:
"I will no longer contribute to the OCA until I have assurance that my contributions are being used for legitimate purposes. Full disclosure, along with the resignation of the Metropolitan are part of that assurance."
Think of the visual when all those postcards are delivered.
#62.1 Michelle C. on 2007-03-26 16:49
4) Watch what happens
Your local parish collapses? I can't speak for all parishes, but, typically, not more than 10% of your local giving goes upstream to the dioceses and OCA chancery.
Your priest has his housing allowance or stipend cut, because that's the only "flexible" amount in the budget (landlords and mortgage holders being so rigid about getting paid)? There's some Christian love and charity for you.
You stop spending money on outreach? Thereby allowing this scandal to do even more damage to the Gospel?
#62.2 A Mission Priest on 2007-03-26 21:42
Dear Fr. Kyrie Eleison A Mission Priest
What would you suggest be done???
“Thereby allowing this scandal to do even more damage to the Gospel?”
You admit there is a scandal and (some?) damage is being done.
Are you honest with parishioners and admit there is wrong being done???
This could have been resolved over a year ago if the money was stopped.
PLEASE LET US HEAR YOUR SUGGESTIONS FOR A SOLUTION!!!
Not what we shouldn’t do.
STOP THE MONEY !!!
#62.2.1 Ande on 2007-03-27 08:53
Of course, we shouldn't let our priests suffer in this instance. But we might have to pay some of his bills directly, or give him cash as personal gifts, rather than letting the money go through the parish budget.
#62.2.2 Leaella Shirley on 2007-03-27 17:55
Recovering EPA'er's (why can't everybody use their real Christian names on this website) coupon idea, for withholding money from Sunday parish collections, just seems to punish the parish presbyters, their wives, their children and the parish at large. No matter what scandals rock the Church at the episcopal level, presbyters still need to be paid for their work, mortages and utilities bills still need to be paid for churches to remain open. Such blanket "don't give anything until we get our way" tactics aren't "for the good of the Church." Only the devil rejoices in parishes closing their doors because bills and ministers went unpaid.
#62.3 Gregory Orloff on 2007-03-27 06:59
Actually, you and Mission Priest are wrong. The "devil rejoices" in what is happening in Syosset! As for the 10 percent that goes out of the parish or mission, keep it and you can have 100 percent and continued support.
Unfortunately, we are in a war now and, to use that horrible term. there will be "collateral damage." That can minimized , however, by careful planning and intelligent giving. But the moral imperative to "starve" Syosset of funds to care on its evil addictions is paramount.
#62.3.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-03-27 09:11
I'm the one who posted the coupon idea and am replying to everyone who read the note and found the idea to have been half-formed. What happened was that the font that my graphics-challenged fingers attempted to create didn't come out correctly when it appeared on this page. It was supposed to say "I.O.U."
The point was not to withhold funds and watch parishes collapse. It was to: 1. Put all of one's usual donations in a little home account for temporary safekeeping (like a piggy bank). 2: Give all of them to the local parish as soon as those two stipulations are met.
What is important is that the local parish priest will know what's going on and that the money will eventually come but ONLY after Herman is gone and the report is released. The paruish priests will also report back to Syosset that he got a collection plate full of IOU's that week. If enough reports come in from around the country that this is happening, things WILL change (if people continue to adhere to the coupon plan until they do). OCA Orthodox Americans will then have used a quintisentially American technique: mass protest/economic boycott in the tradition of the Biblically-centered peaceful protester Martin Luther King, Jr.. That's what I meant by "Watch what happens." People don't even have to put their name on the coupon if their priest is a Herman-lackey. In the end, by making Herman's departure the first requirement for the financial salvation of the church, the tables will be utterly turned and the healing can begin to begin. Herman will have to resign "for the good of the Church" (indeed, for the existence of the OCA as an organization). If that is the position in which he finds himself, many will find courage (with their new-found leverage) to INSIST that he step down. As soon as he officially does so and the report is released in some form, the people IMMEDIATELY fulfill their Christian pledge given in the I.O.U. In other words, they give the back-owed money. But this simple plan will work in only one way: if most everyone is on the same page and withholds. Anyway, that's my concrete suggestion as a way to deal with this silly man who can only continue to manipulate everyone if they let him. Otherwise, the people on this site just spin and spin and spin their wheels without a single plan to achieve the single goal they so obviously want. I hope this helps.
#188.8.131.52 EPA on 2007-03-27 11:35
My own parish lives "paycheck to paycheck". It's young, small, and working hard to proclaim the Gospel in our area. An IOU does not pay rent, telephone, or church school expenses. It most emphatically does not pay the priest his already meager allowance.
Issuing IOUs until everything here is resolved will only result in the starvation of our churches. The OCA problem would resolve itself very quickly then, with the reduction of the OCA to a rump church.
Your local parish and local priest are not the problem. Stop punishing them. Figure out how to take this fight to Syosset.
#184.108.40.206.1 A Mission Priest on 2007-03-27 12:21
"Care" should be "carry."
#220.127.116.11 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-03-27 13:33
As a cradle Orthodox, but only recent member of the OCA, it is hard to express my disappointent with the actions of the metropolitan.
I am begining to agree with members our our Discussion Forum, who say that the metrpolitan seems to be on a suicide mission.
I grew up with tyrannical pashas over in the GOA - it was one of the things that made my decision to leave that jurisdiction very easy.
Now, I see the same symptoms here in the OCA - bishops who think they are untouchable, acting without any concern whatsoever for the Church, and only out of personal motivations, and resultant fear and confusion. One needs only to scan down the list of responses to see how many are signed "name withheld" or posting under some anonymous name. The evil one is clearly having a field day with the OCA right now.
The only difference is that we, in the OCA, can do something about it. We are not a voiceless eparchial province of some faraway patriarchal church, run by distant colonial overlords. And if we are going to act as if we are, then we deserve our fate. Sorry...but there is no room for FEAR in Christ's Church.
If your bishop is one of those NOT supporting Archbishop Job - then get on the telephone TONIGHT and let him know about it.
It is time for the American Church to stop TALKING about being the LOCAL CHURCH, and start ACTING LIKE IT. Among other things, this means DEPOSING errant leaders.
The process has already begun - and on Black Friday the gauntlet was clearly thrown down - it's now time to decide if we are WORTHY of being the local autocephalous church, or if we have just been kidding ourselves all this time.
May we not be judged as unworthy.
...and keep praying.
#63 Dean Calvert on 2007-03-26 17:01
RE # 55 and Mr. Kruchock,
Marx once noted in 18th Brumaire of Louis Napoleon, that history repeats itself, the first time occurring as tragedy, the second as farce. I can see from your post that you are working on the second occurrence. You ironically note that RSK is only guilty of doing too selfless a job, but that it’s OK for +MH to sack him. Well, it seems that he is now doing wonders at Venice, and that he’s got numbers (though we have seen his numbers before) to prove it. So what if millions went missing on his watch and he can’t say where it all went (hey, Greenwich village is a big place, after all), we should forgive him. Well, when he tells us where it all went, and when–and only when--his repentance is better known than his sins, well, fine, then he can return to the ministry, maybe in a leper colony, or as a missionary in Beslan, some place that needs his remarkable abilities, and not the retirement communities in Venice, FL.
As for monies, if we designate our funds so that they are only spent within our parish for particular things, this may help (if our parishes follow IRS rules–I know of a number that don’t), but then others who don’t designate will end up covering our assessments. If everyone in the parish did this, then we would meet our ‘dues’ but still not have to pony up to the pig trough in Syosset.
I think also, it would be a good thing if we together on this list would set aside a time later this week, say at 3 PM on Lazarus Saturday, when we all, to the best of our ability, would stop and pray the Akathist to our guardian angels and to the Theotokos to protect us in these coming months.
Hurting with and praying for all of you.
#64 Guillaume on 2007-03-26 17:09
STOP THE MONEY !!!
STOP THE MONEY !!!
STOP THE MONEY !!!
ALL Financial support of the OCA MUST STOP!
Especially stop to the local parish (only if they are sending to Syosset).
Has anyone started a fund to get these criminals convicted???
STOP THE MONEY !!!
#65 Ande on 2007-03-26 17:15
If you do "stop the money", please send it instead to the IOCC or OCMC, or make a gift to your parish priest instead, or buy food with it and feed some hungry people near you.
Please don't starve the whole Body just because a toe has an infected hang-nail.
In all this the devil would love nothing more than for God's people to act in anger and without praying.
Stop the money if you want, but DO NOT STOP PRAYING!
Rdr. Alexander Langley
#65.1 Rdr Alexander Langley on 2007-03-27 07:52
Here's another idea. You could send the money directly to a mission parish. Mission parishes are listed on the OCA website, and they certainly can use all the help they can get!
A mission priest.
#65.1.1 Fr. Daniel Swires on 2007-03-27 16:12
"Oh what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practice to deceive" Sir Walter Scott
Financial pressure, legal action, and negative publicity will be the three avenues to affect change. The Metropolitan had a chance to provide moral leadership, but failed miserably to do so. The reasons are not hard to guess. I was hoping for more from our other hierarchs.
David M. Paynter,
#66 David M. Paynter on 2007-03-26 17:55
First, Mark, let me express my thanks for your tireless efforts in keeping us informed in spite of the efforts of the administration to continue the cover-up. Second, I pray every day for +Job, Greg Nescott, Eric Wheeler, and the others who are working tirelessly to save our church also for the intervention by either/or the New York Attorney general, FBI, and/or the U.S. Justice Department. This financial scandal must be brought to a halt and the guilty punished. Anything less is unacceptable.
I too, will go in writing to my church board to stop payments to the dioceses and/or to Syosset New York. All required funds will be requested to go into escrow until there is a satisfactory solution, the guilty punished, and the administration has been changed.
The church has many good attorneys as members who can inform us layman via this web-site, if it is possible to take the administration to court for misfeasance or malfeasance of office. I would be glad to contribute toward this effort.
The Metropolitan Council, like a developing fetus, was starting to show signs of developing "cajonies." I am sure the reason for Greg Nescotts removal from the Council, was to send a message to the other members. Please, don't relinquish the responsibilities of the Met. Council. The Church has been without a responsible Council for far too many years. This is why we have a financial scandal today.
Met. Herman again has ignored the vote of the Synod of Bishops who voted to suspend Fr. Kondratick and return him under + Herman pending charges. If the OCA ever needed divine intervention, the time is now. Peter J. Sredich
Do you know the time line for future meetings down the road? Is Bishop Job supposed to reconvene on a certain date with findings from the Special Commission? Are there any other meeting dates looming ahead?
Thanks for letting us know,
#68 Patty Schellbach on 2007-03-26 20:28
A fellow parishioner, RM, posted below, re her son (a fine altar boy) and our little parish's visit from +H on our first Sun. in our new home. BC noted that RM may have chosen to boycott. I wish I had boycotted! I actually mentioned to a friend I was considering doing that, and only because this friend needed me to pick up her daughter's girlscout cookies I purchased did I go. The Large Hat With The Little Man Beneath It, thankfully, did not have us do a full hierarchical Lit., and his sermon was, I thought, actually pretty good. But, notwithstanding that this was our first Sun in our new space, and that I got my cookies, I wish I'd been at another parish; I fear I may have contributed to his delusion (like that which one must deduce to have arisen from that obscene facade of a birthday party held in the tony NYAC) that he has popular support (ya know, among his taxpayers ....). Do you know--we even had special envelopes there for a collection for +H? Ha! Made me ill. (Of course, we are in his diocese, and there are certain realities that The Hat has made clear to all subject to his administrative authority (and to those not, right Gregg?). So, this friend--truly a dear friend--was shocked I'd boycott since "he's the Metropolitian!" "Well, yeah," I replied, "but he's crook, too." She disbelieved. Now with this Nescott affair (Anaxios! Anaxios! Anaxios!), perhaps the scales will fall from what must be only a few pair of eyes left who won't see the illness that has infected the brain of the The Hat. In the past, many took offense at the use of the term "crook." But there are worse wrods, equally fit; for this forum, however, "crook" is both fit and fit to print. But, I still wish I'd boycotted.
#69 S'in Otza on 2007-03-27 01:47
Having thought about this, fairness seems to require that I note my any poetic use of words of indictment is merely a deduction, though one that seems to me reasonable from what's in the public record. But, not being infallible, I may have to admit being wrong someday, and I admit today that I'm not privy to first-hand knowledge of any criminal acts. That said, crookery, as I use the concept, would easily encompass not taking measures to right prior acts (by whomever) of criminal conduct.
#69.1 S'in Otza on 2007-03-27 09:45
As members of the OCA, we need to have a mass "write-in" specifically to the Synod of Bishops expressing the opinion of "no-confidence" in the leadership of MH. I have been told that if the Synod receives enough letters of this nature, they would be compelled to do something as they would see that MH has lost the confidence of his flock.
We have some very eloquent writers on this site. I would purpose that one of these writers compose a letter of this nature that "we" (the members of the OCA) could copy and mail to the Synod.
Perhaps we should even select a mailing date so the Synod receives them at approximately the same time....right before their next Synodal meeting.
#70 Juliana on 2007-03-27 05:32
The full Synod meets only twice a year. I think we need a closer date. How about Pentecost?
#70.1 Rachel Andreyev on 2007-03-27 21:45
I think Pentecost is a perfect date! Can you imagine if the Synod received at least 10,000 letters that expressed "no confidence" in the leadership of MH? Quite frankly, the Synod only knows of our discontent if they are reading the postings on this site (or others).
However, we really need people to "buy" into this "letter writing". A few hundred letters aren't going to cut it. And, of course, we need someone to write the letter.
Perhaps I should post this suggestion again on the newest thread that Mark has going as the amount of postings is just overwhelming....and I mean this in a good way as we all care about our OCA.
#70.1.1 Juliana on 2007-03-28 07:53
I am actually waiting to see what the Commission has to say about the current actions of +Herman.
Having said that. I used to be a system administrator for a computer system in the days of 'mainframes". When the system crashed a message appeared on the "master console", "FATAL ERROR." If what was reporrted here is true, and I have no reason to believe it is not, +Herman may have committed a "FATAL ERROR." Either he or the OCA has crashed if these actions stand. Let us pray that it is not the OCA.
It seems like I remember reading in Fr. Hopko's "Rainbow Series" that there have been instances in history of the laity "getting rid" of ungodly bishops. I don't recall him saying how. sigh.
To those on the Commission who may read this, I believe a canon lawyer might be a good person to bring onboard as a consultant. I also believe Fr. Hopko would be an excellent consultant. Not that these people would be members, but I believe they could be very helpful in giving advice. My two cents.
Does anyone out there know if the Statutes allow the met to dismiss someone from the Met. Council? Isn't it ironic that someone can steal millions from the Church and is still a priest, but a person makes public something the met doesen't like and he is dismissed. That says a lot about the current metropolitan.
St. Patriarch Tikhon forgive us for what we have allowed to happen in your former missionary diocese. And Fr. Schmemann who worked so hard for autocephaly.
#71 Linda Weir on 2007-03-27 06:56
As far as I can tell, there is no provision anywhere in The Statute for removing a sitting member of the Metropolitan Council. According to Article V,1, members of the MC are elected either by their Diocesan Assembly or---in the case of 6 members and two alternates---by the All-American Council. Absent any other specific provision, the applicable principle seems to be that only the authority which appoints/elects has the authority to dismiss/recall.
Certainly neither Article IV nor Article V concede to the Metropolitan any specific authority to dismiss members of the Metropolitan Council. If, in this instance, the Metropolitan has dismissed Mr. Nescott on the supposed authority of Article IV,2,i, he has once again misinterpreted "PASTORAL intervention" to mean "unilaterally assuming to one's self someone else's lawful authority."
But what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, is it not? When the Metropolitan used Article IV,2,i to dismiss the former Chancellor from office, there were those who---because the Metropolitan's action suited their views, purposes, and desires---kept mum or even rejoiced. Well, NONE of those souls now have any right whatsoever to complain that he's done it again, this time to dismiss Mr. Nescott. The first time around, their silence gave consent and thereby allowed the setting of a precedent in how that provision is interpreted. Now we're all stuck with it.... unless and until the Holy Synod correct this error.
NOW do you understand why strict adherence to The Statute is so necessary?
#72 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2007-03-27 08:50
Too bad we're still under the thumb of selecting our bishops from among the purportedly celibate clergy. So small a pool of candidates! While some may be led along that path as a blessed one (reflecting an important "characteristic" of the Eternal), others just can't seem to function well within the dynamics of actually relating to another individual. Married clergy (reflecting another equally important "characteristic" of the Eternal), bring to the table the benefit of more life experience with relating to another in an intimate, sacrificial way. Sadly, not all celibate clergy have the insight of Theophan the Recluse. We all know priests who'd make excellent hierarchs ... but for the spouse' esp those who don't want it. Should take all bishops from among the married clergy who don't want that "elevation."
Not to start a whole forum here ... just wishful thinking.
#73 Yanni Paduska on 2007-03-27 09:00
I have posted several comments to this Webpage as "Convoluted Convert;" well, I am now Convoluted No More! You can refer to me as "Committed Convert." I'll show my age by asking, "Do you, the bishops of this Church, take me for a chump?!" I don't know you, Mr. Stokoe, but if you were a Hollywood writer, I would say that you're a lousy one, because no one could ever believe these things that you try to tell us in your story are realistic, much less "true" -- because, they simply could not be true. How can the things we read here be true? It just could not happen among Men of God, as our bishops must be ... right?
After what appeared to me and others as "steps in the right direction" recently, what with the continuance of the Commission, the (finally!) naming of Fr Kondratick as at least in part responsible for much of the theft of OCA funds -- let's call it for what it is -- and so forth ... now this?! This outrage is now approaching the level of the Anna Nicole Smith debacle!
I remember a sermon by Fr Thomas Hopko regarding the Prodigal Son; it was a wonderful sermon, in which he pointed out, "In this Church, it is not the pig-pen, it's outside that is the pig-pen!" His point was powerful and well-taken. Now , it seems that our bishops collectively (with certain notable individual contributions) seem intent to bring the pig-pen into our Church -- while telling us all the while, "There is no pig-pen. Nothing to see here! Let's just get-on with our Liturgy now, good people!"
I am done. I am closing my checkbook. There will be no further contributions by myself to the OCA nor any OCA church, agency, or seminary -- not until the bishops ALL RESIGN, and I mean ALL OF THEM! I am finished trying to decipher the posturing and sniping, +Nikolai "M.I.A." and the meaning behind it, +Dmitri "protecting" Fr Kondratick, while others are sacrificed. I have remained within the fold of the OCA out of respect to my parish priest, who has invested a lot of time and effort in my conversion to and growth in Orthodoxy. But I have to ask, "How can I be 'loyal' to my parish priest, when he can be removed at the whim of one of these men (the bishops) or +MH himself, at any time, with not even a semblance of due-process?"
We Orthodox truly do possess the gift of the Truth, as taught to us by the Lord Himself and the Holy Apostles. It has become quite impossible for me to believe in the ability of the OCA's pathetic group of individuals refered to as the Holy Synod of Bishops to safeguard the Holy Truth, and I can no longer in good conscience accept Holy Communion under their authority. On a more modern note, I can also no longer convince myself to pay for this on-going train-wreck! (I was never a big fan of the demolition derby; I prefer to see building projects, not destruction projects.)
By their most recent actions/inactions/retractions etc, the bishops and the Metropolitan have demonstrated beyond any shadow of doubt -- much less reasonable doubt -- that they (a) cannot handle funds properly, (b) cannot untangle the tangled web of this financial scandal, and/or (c) DO NOT WANT to untangle the web, since some of them -- at this point, it must be said -- must so clearly be among the perpetrators of this theft. Having said that, I apologize to any of these men who are indeed innocent of any such involvement. However, the OCA is a collective body, and if you're on the Board of Directors (the Holy Synod), then you're either leading the "fix-it" brigade, or you are part of the "hide-it" cabal.
There are alternatives out there in Orthodoxy -- the Greek, Antiochian jurisdictions, to name two -- who may be able to use my money more appropriately, or at least enable me to receive Holy Communion without feeling -- well, feeling 'dirty' or cheated in some way!
I remain a Committed Convert to Orthodoxy; I am no longer "convoluted" in my thoughts regarding the OCA, with regret.
#74 Convoluted No More! on 2007-03-27 09:30
I really hope you don't leave the OCA. The devil's primary purpose is to conquer and divide. Don't let the devil win. The easy way out is to jump jurisdictions. Remember, the saints and the martyrs fought the hard but good fight, so must we.
We must persevere as Job did in the Old Testament; we must save our OCA. I believe with the prayers and perseverance of one strong bishop and the many committed faithful, the OCA will endure this scandal.
#74.1 Juliana on 2007-03-27 11:24
Some readers may expend a lot of effort speculating on why His Grace, Bishop NIKOLAI was not in attendance at the recent Synod of Bishop’s meeting. I would like to save them this effort and offer some factual information.
As His Grace’s assistant, I can assure your readers that His Grace based his decision on principles of Tradition and Canon Law. Those who work closely with His Grace, Bishop NIKOLAI know that he puts our Holy Church before all other considerations, either personal or for convenience.
To put it simply, he was following the Canon Law of our Holy Church. I am not a Canon Law scholar but understand that the Apostolic Canon 37 states that the spring session of the Holy Synod of Bishops’ meeting should take place during the fourth week of Pentecost, meaning the fourth week after Pascha.
The Twentieth Canon of Antioch states that the Synod of Bishops’ meeting should be held twice a year with the spring session after the third week of Holy Pascha.
To be fair, there are other interpretations of the Canons although they suggest that the spring meeting should occur BEFORE the Great Fast—none, to my knowledge, suggest the meeting should be scheduled DURING Lent. This meeting was scheduled precisely in the middle of Lent. Respecting the Canons and following the Typikon for that week when the Great Canon of St. Andrew is read in full and the Forty Holy Martyrs of Sebaste are venerated, Bishop NIKOLAI chose to do what was right. He remained in his Diocese. This meeting should have been scheduled after the Great Fast. It is my understanding that he expressed this preference at the 2006 spring Holy Synod meeting.
Some readers have asked, “Why is the Diocese of Alaska referred to as the ‘Russian Orthodox Diocese of Alaska’?” Everyone knows that the Russian Orthodox Diocese of Alaska is a diocese of the Orthodox Church in America, but I would like to pose this question. If one recognizes that your existence was the product of saints that came from Russia and nurtured this vineyard, wouldn’t it be reasonable and honorable to acknowledge your forbearers? In the secular world we perpetuate the surname of our parents. Why should it be less when our origins hearken back to saints and martyrs that walked the ground we walk today? St. Herman was a member of that original Mission that planted the seeds of Orthodoxy in North America. We also honor the memory of St. Innocent who served here for so many years, the Martyr Juvenaly plus countless priests who traveled and endured amazing hardship to establish Orthodoxy in North America. Even our own Native Alaskan saint, St. Yakov Netsvetov was of Russian and Aleut origin and educated in Russia. We owe a debt of respect and gratitude to Russia, which nurtured the faith here for many years. Beginning in 1794 when the First Mission arrived from Russia, we were Orthodox “Russian America” for seventy-three years before the sale of Alaska to the US. Then there was a great period of transition, during ninety-two years, when we were ‘Territorial Alaska’ before we were officially a US state. That is my explanation for our revered title—the Russian Orthodox Diocese of Alaska. Incidentally, the Orthodox faithful who are Native (often with Russian ancestors) highly esteem their Russian heritage. Probably no amount of words can illustrate how unique our Orthodox world is in Alaska compared to places elsewhere. I invite your readers to visit Alaska and see for themselves that our Russian heritage is deeply rooted and respected here.
#75 MIna Jacobs on 2007-03-27 10:29
Well folks, there you have it. We finally have a winner in the great “ Gnat Straining-Camel Swallowing Contest”. Trophies will be given out at a later date when the owner of the vineyard returns.
Luke 14:5 Then he asked them, "If one of you has a son or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull him out?"
If a Shepherd’s flock is being attacked by wolves and the sheep are in danger of being killed or scattered to the winds , will he not run to it’s aid?
Well, that depends. The 5th Canon of the Ancient Council of Cowards states that one should always run away, hide, and find all kinds of pious sounding excuses for inaction. It further states that once having attained this pious aloofness, it is always best to have someone else explain one’s inaction.
From blind guides, hypocrites, whited sepulchers, and parasites, O Lord God Save Us.
#75.1 Sophia Weisheit on 2007-03-28 07:06
Sorry, but I don't believe for a minute that your bishop did not write this post.
Since we have pictures of His Grace at previous Synod meeting during the Great Fast, it is a little late to quote canons.
As to Russians being the founding "fathers" of the Alaskan Church, the Greeks "founded" the Russian Church but we don't call the Russian Church the "Greek Orthodox Church." But if the people in Alaska want to call it that it is fine with me, just don't use that lame excuse. Shoot, if that held true, we would all be called the Jerusalem Orthodox Church. What we should be called in this country, and I pray I live to see it, is the American Orthodox Church. Period.
Does His Grace not realize that is is against the Holy Canons for more than one bishop to be the "ruling bishop" for the same territory? I believe there are Antiochian parishes in Alaska. So he has at least one other bishop "ruling" in his territory.
See, you should never throw canons around as "law" because we don't follow all of them. They are guides or "rules" to measure by. Oh, my favorite, can His Grace recite the Psalter by heart? Their is a Holy Canon requiring same from bishops.
#75.1.1 Linda Weir on 2007-03-28 09:56
Thank you for all of the work you have done on ocanews.org. You have performed an invaluable service for us.
I have four questions:
1. The Metropolitan Council voted on a resolution to release the
report created by the Special Commission. This resolution was
accepted by the Holy Synod. Why has the report not been released? When will it be?
2. Is there anything in the OCA Statutes that permits the Metropolitan to arbitrarily void the resolution passed by the Metropolitan Council and approved by the Holy Synod which states that there shall be no outside interference placed upon the Special Commission?
3. Who/what would be the proper forum for contesting the Metropolitan's decision to arbitrarily suspend Mr. Nescott from the Metropolitan Council since Mr. Nescott was elected by his Diocese to represent the Diocese?
4. What is the legal/canonical basis for the Metropolitan to suspend a member of the Metropolitan Council who was elected to represent his Diocese? Is there such a thing as due process in church governance?
1. No. The Metropolitan has yet to say, if ever.
2. No. In doing so he appears to have done the same thing as ARchbishop Dmitri - gone back on his word.
3. That is for you to decide. There are no formal means to do so. Some people advocate withholding money. Others are suggesting more personal means - protesting at St. Tikhon's or other events. You decide what works for you.
4. There is none. No, not really in manners we would be more familiar with from the secular world.
#76 Nina Bilyeu on 2007-03-27 11:00
MH has demonstrated time and time again that he thinks he is above the Statute of the OCA. He simply does not follow it. We are told over and over to follow the Statute, to the letter. But, that is ridiculous if the Met. and the Holy Synod just ignore it.
#76.1 Name withheld on 2007-03-27 16:21
Anyone want to take up a collection to buy a page in the NY Times and Dallas Morning News making a public appeal for all the parties involved to go away?
#77 Bob Czech on 2007-03-27 15:12
I think a real financial investigations should be done on Archbishop Dimitri. I would start off with the fortune he's poured into his "episcopal palace". You should also check into how he goes about paying for his around the clock chofer and 2007 Benz. How does he ever pay for his maid and chef? Who finances his escapades south of the border? or his bimonthly out of town vacations. What about his luxurious silk cassocks? Who paid for those? What about his frequent flights overseas on "pilgrimages"? Inquiring minds want to know?
#78 A different perspective on 2007-03-27 15:31
Of course my previous post was satirical. I don't mean to diminish the importance and gravity of what's going on now in the OCA, but as often happens in such cases, an ideal is pursued so vehemently, that the person is lost. So much energy is going into getting down to the truth and restoring the "image" of the oca, that the particular image, a particular image of God, is forgotten at best and trampled and assassinated at worst. I think this is the case with Vladiko Dimitri. I would venture to say that those who are now lambasting, condemning, slandering Vladiko Dimitri are those who know very little about, much less know him directly, first hand. I do not question the sincerity of brothers and sisters who are ernestly and vehemently pursing the truth with respect to the scandal in syosett. I lend my "amen" and my voice and will ask that my gifts to the church remain in the south. What I do caution my brethren is to not commit themselves to the "anti +Dimitri" cause just yet, knowing very little about him and because of one act of his. I would ask that you, my brethren hear the voices of those of us who are of his flock, if any of body knows Vladyka Dimitri, is it not his flock?
I do not know a thing about MH, so I cannot stand up for him, for ill or good. But, I've known Vladiko Dimitri for many years now, I have traveled all around the world, in many "orthodox" countries and have met many bishops, , more that I wish to remember, even some OCA bishops, and Vladiko Dimitri stands out from the rest, in great relief.
#79 A different perspective on 2007-03-27 15:56
It surprises me that "different perspective" knows Bishop Dmitri so well that he feels obliged to present a comment praising him BUT still is fearful somehow of makeing his name known. If he is your Diocesan Bishop, whom do you fear?
I've known Bishop Dmitri for many years--since his consecration to the episcopy in fact. And I am in the Diocese of the South. If your comments are intended to suggest that your feelings of euphoria re the bishop are representative of the majority of those in the DOS, your are dead wrong. Your comment mentions ..."one act " of his. I can think of numerous acts that he did or didn't do. After the scandal had been boiling for over a year he wrote a pastoral letter suggesting that it was all something like "idle gossip". The "Dawn" newsmagazine still has made absolutely no reference to the scandal. He has cautioned his priests not to discuss the matter. He brought into the Diocese two of the most prominent figures in the scandal, i.e. Fr.Kondratick and Fr. Fester, who now occupies a very high position in the Diocese . He has asked that a third Syosset mainstay and friend of RSK who must be considered as being involved in the scandal be made a bishop. He has reneged on a decision of the Holy Synod regarding RSK. There are some of us who believe that these acts are ...."in-your-face" acts . Have I covered the ....."one act" that "different perspective" seems to have acknowledged? There are an increasing number of people who feel that the bishop is at an age (in fact, past the age) where he should retire. But not at the expense of having Fr. Brum replace him as our Diocesan Bishop.
#79.1 nicholas skovran on 2007-03-27 19:12
It is imperative that everything possible be done to stop Fr. Baum from being made a bishop. That would add insult to already grievous injury!
#79.1.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-03-27 20:31
Thank you for all of the work you have done on ocanews.org. You have performed an invaluable service for us.
Please accept the following extended posting >>>
DOCUMENT # 1
THE ORTHODOX CHURCH ... NEWS PAPER, Page 12,
JANUARY / FEBRUARY ... VOLUME 43 .. ˝
The extraordinary joint meeting of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America and the Metropolitan Council was held on December 12-13, 2006. Called in response to a growing number of concerns with regard to the Church's finances and related matters, the meeting opened with an address by His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman.
Among the agenda items was the long awaited investigative report of the legal firm of Proskauer Rose and a report from the outside auditors.
"Stunned by the magnitude" of the report's revelations, members of the Holy Synod and Metropolitan Council named a special committee to continue the investigation.
Appointed to the committee were His Eminence, Archbishop Job of Chicago; His Grace, Bishop Benjamin of Berkeley; the Very Revs. Vladimir Berzonsky and John Reeves; Mr. Gregory Nescott and Dr.
A report by the reorganization task force was unanimously accepted for implementation.
The new structure calls for a division and sharing of administrative responsibilities among the chancellor, secretary, treasurer, and director of ministry and communications, all of whom will report directly to the Metropolitan. The change allows for increased professionalism and shared responsibility, fostering openness
and mutual accountability. A search committee was appointed to initiate a search for interested and qualified candidates for the four full-time positions, as well as for the position of comptroller.
It was noted that the new structure will provide clear reporting channels and job descriptions for all chancery personnel.
Further, the number of central administrative employees will be reduced, resulting in an anticipated $500,000.00 decrease in staff expenses. Metropolitan Council members established a charity committee, to be chaired by the Very Rev. John Reeves, to recommend priorities for the allocation of existing charities and the identification of future charitable projects.
At their September 2006 meeting, Metropolitan Council members also established finance, audit, and investment committees. Metropolitan Council members appointed the Very Rev. Philip Reese to chair the investment committee, while Mary Caetta, MBA, was named chair of the audit committee.
The transmittal of $10,000.00 to His Grace, Bishop Alejo, for the general support of the Exarchate of Mexico was also authorized by the Metropolitan Council.
The 2007 budget, designed to be "real" promptly posted on the OCA web site at www.oca.org.
Holy Synod, Metropolitan Council hold joint meeting; appoint investigative committee Metropolitan Herman opens the joint meeting of the Holy Synod of Bishops and the Metropolitan Council. ed on the OCA web site at www.oca.org.
In other actions,
• Attorney James Thomas Perry spoke on and clarified "A Review of Director Liability Standards."
• it was announced that the previous long-standing Metropolitan Council Administrative Committee positions have been vacated.
• the Holy Synod and Metropolitan Council agreed that time constraints would make it impossible to convene an All- American Council in 2007. The AAC will be convened in 2008, as preciously announced.
• the Metropolitan Council authorized the sale of the property on Martin Drive in Syosset, formerly used as the home of the OCA chancellor.
The meeting closed on December 13 with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy for the feast of Saint Herman of Alaska...
DOCUMENT # 2
OCA PRESS RELEASE:
Holy Synod, Metropolitan Council conclude extraordinary joint meeting
Article posted: 12/13/2006 10:19 PM
SYOSSET, NY [OCA Communications] — The extraordinary joint meeting of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America and the Metropolitan Council ended with a final session after the celebration of the Divine Liturgy for the feast of Saint Herman of Alaska on Wednesday, December 13, 2006.
The joint meeting was held to respond to a growing number of concerns with regard to the Church's finances and a number of related matters.
On Tuesday, December 12, the hierarchs and Metropolitan Council members heard the long-awaited investigative report of Proskauer Rose and outside auditors. In response, a committee consisting of His Eminence, Archbishop Job of Chicago; His Grace, Bishop Benjamin of Berkeley; the Very Revs. Vladimir Berzonsky and John Reeves; Mr. Gregory Nescott and Dr. Faith Skordinski, was named to continue the investigation. [For an account of decisions will made at Tuesday's session, read the release dated December 12 on the OCA web site.]
On Monday, December 11, the members of the Metropolitan Council met separately to deliberate on a number of issues.
The far-reaching report of the Reorganization Task Force was unanimously accepted for implementation. The new structure calls for a division and sharing of administrative responsibilities among the chancellor, secretary, treasurer, and director of ministry and communications, all of whom will report directly to the Metropolitan. The change allows for increased professionalism and shared responsibility, fostering openness and mutual accountability. A committee was appointed to initiate a search for interested and qualified candidates.
The new structure will provide clear reporting channels and job descriptions for all chancery personnel. Further, the number of central administrative employees will be reduced, resulting in an anticipated $500,000.00 decrease in staff expenses.
Metropolitan Council members established a charity committee, to be chaired by the Very Rev. John Reeves, to recommend priorities for allocation of existing charities and to determine future charitable projects. At their September 2006 meeting, members of the Metropolitan Council established finance, audit, and investment committees.
Council members also named the Very Rev. Philip Reese as chair of the investment committee, and Mary Caetta, MBA, as chair of the audit committee. All four committees will be seeking volunteers among the faithful willing to offer their expertise.
Metropolitan Council members authorized the transmittal of $10,000.00 to His Grace, Bishop Alejo, for general support for the Exarchate of Mexico.
A 2007 draft budget, designed to be "real" and balanced, was thoroughly examined. The draft budget was formulated by the finance committee, chaired by the Very Rev. Matthew Tate. Several new initiatives pointed to the ongoing intention of Metropolitan Council members to maximize spending on programs, such as the full funding of seminarian internships. The 2007 approved budget will be posted on the OCA web site.
In other actions,
Attorney James Thomas Perry spoke on "A Review of Director Liability Standards," offering much clarity on this topic.
it was announced that the previous long-standing Metropolitan Council Administrative Committee positions have been vacated.
it was agreed by the hierarchs and members of the Metropolitan Council that time constraints would make it impossible to convene an All-American Council in 2007, instead of the previously announced 2008.
the Metropolitan Council authorized the sale of the property on Martin Drive in Syosset, formerly used as the home of the OCA chancellor.
A detailed report on the joint meeting will appear in the January-February 2007 issue of "The Orthodox Church" news magazine.
DOCUMENT # 3
OCA PRESS RELEASE:
OCA Holy Synod and Metropolitan Council conclude first day of joint meeting
Article posted: 12/12/2006 9:30 PM
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SYOSSET, NY [OCA Communications] — Members of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America and the Metropolitan Council concluded the first day of their extraordinary two-day joint meeting here on Tuesday, December 12, 2006.
The complete text of a statement issued at the end of their session reads as follows.
"The questions regarding the allegations of financial improprieties were addressed today in an all-day joint session of the Holy Synod of Bishops and the Metropolitan Council in a historic step forward. Presentations by the accounting firm Lambrides Lamos Moulthrop LLP and the law firm Proskauer Rose LLP, confirmed the following allegations:
"1. Processes in place for administrative and financial controls have been circumvented since at least 1998.
"2. There were numerous unsubstantiated large cash withdrawals.
"3. Personal credit card abuses using Church funds were documented.
"4. Numerous trips were taken without the submission of appropriate documentation but were nonetheless reimbursed.
"5. Attempts to divert monies designated to various charities were clearly indicated and in some cases documented.
"6. Examination of Church appeals from 2001 to 2005 revealed that meaningful reports could not be rendered due to lack of appropriate documentation.
"7. Pattern of personal use of Church money was exhibited for a number of years.
"8. Lack of timely financial reports and in some cases, false reports, were submitted.
"9. Large amounts of Church funds were used to improperly pay for personal items.
"The severity of some of the problems could not be fully determined due to a lack of documentation. However, these abuses of Church trust were determined to be centered on and around one individual and were not found to be widespread among the employees of the Church.
"The participants of the joint session were stunned by the magnitude of today's revelations and have agreed to implement the following actions:
"1. A Special Committee was appointed by His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman to complete the investigation by Proskauer Rose and to keep the Metropolitan Council advised of developments as they occur. The Committee consists of His Eminence, Job, Archbishop of Chicago, Diocese of the Midwest; His Grace, Benjamin, Bishop of Berkeley, Administrator of the Diocese of the West; Very Reverend Vladimir Berzonsky, Diocese of the Midwest; Very Reverend John Reeves, Diocese of Western Pennsylvania; Mr. Gregory Nescott, Diocese of Western Pennsylvania; and Dr. Faith Skordinski, Diocese of Washington and New York.
"2. The Holy Synod will discuss what disciplinary action, if any, will be recommended.
"3. The Metropolitan Council will oversee the implementation of appropriate accounting procedures in the OCA's accounting office, which will include the replacement of antiquated accounting systems.
"There is still much work to do, and many details need attention. But the new direction is clear -- changes need to be made in order to bring the Church up to the high level of accountability that is expected of it."
The joint meeting will conclude on Wednesday, December 13.
DOCUMENT # 4
ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS FOR ACCOUNTABILITY
Unhampered and Unobstructed
The Special Investigating Commission of the OCA Metropolitan Council must continue its work unhampered and unobstructed. The Commission must not only question Metropolitan Theodosius, Metropolitan Herman and Fr. Robert Kondratick about financial matters. It must question all of the church's hierarchs, all who worked at the OCA Chancery, and all leaders of church institutions, including seminaries and monasteries, since 1990. Its goal must not only be an accurate explanation of the financial malaise. It must also be the production of a comprehensive report with specific recommendations for concrete actions. Only in this way will the systemic sickness that caused our present scandal be properly diagnosed and effectively treated. For our present disease, disorder and dysfunction are not simply a matter of personal weakness, incompetence and sin. They are also the result of erroneous theological understandings and misguided practical policies about the nature and operation of Christ's Holy Church.
Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko
St. Vladimirís Orthodox Theological Seminary
Crestwood, New York
DOCUMENT # 5
3.14.07 High drama in Syosset
COUNCIL VOTES TO AFFIRM SPECIAL COMMISSION'S MANDATE, RECOMMENDATIONS, DESPITE METROPOLITAN'S OPPOSITION
The two-day Metropolitan Council meeting concluded at 4 PM (EDST) today in dramatic fashion when, following an impassioned appeal by Archbishop Job, the Council voted to reject the lead of Metropolitan Herman and overwhelmingly support the work of the Special Commission. It was a stunning reversal of fortune for the Metropolitan, who only the evening before seemed to have convinced Council members to disband the Commission, suppress its report and end any further investigation into the financial scandal plaguing the administration.
Following Tuesday morning's address of the Metropolitan, the speech was immediately posted on the OCA's website. (Read the press release here)
The Council's subsequent naming of candidates for the offices of Chancellor, Treasurer and Director of Ministries and Communications were also posted yesterday afternoon. (Read that press release here)
Yet late into the night still nothing appeared on the OCA website concerning the centerpiece of the day's work, the report of the Special Commission.
According to witnesses, Tuesday afternoon's report of the Special Commission began with Archbishop Job, chairman of the Commission, presenting a 9-10 page written report, with 3 pages of endnotes and more than 200 pages of exhibits. Members of the Council sat silently as the report outlined in devastating and incontrovertible detail, listing dates and amounts, how Church funds were misused and misappropriated. The Commission report concluded with a number of recommendations; most importantly, that the Commission be empowered by the Council to continue its investigation, that the report be sent on to the Synod and later be made public to the Church, and that the Synod suspend former Chancellor Fr. Robert Kondratick from all priestly duties, pending a church trial.
No sooner had the Commission finished than the first voices were raised against it; not against the integrity or facts of the report, but that the Church had enough of scandal; that the report should be kept secret; that the Commission should now end its work " for the good of the Church" ; it was time to "move on" given the reorganization and new appointments; and that no actions should be taken against anyone. The Metropolitan concurred. Commission members and those who supported them were stunned. The meeting ended with no decisions taken, but the clear impression was given that Metropolitan's position would be affirmed the next morning. And so, unlike the other two reports earlier in the day, nothing appeared on the OCA website regarding the Special Commission or its work....
Following a morning Pre-sanctified Liturgy, the Council meeting resumed. Among the presentations was an hour-long talk by Attorney Jim Perry warning of potential civil liabilities arising from the Special Commission's report.
At this point Archbishop Job of Chicago rose and addressed the Council, saying he was "appalled and amazed" that the Metropolitan and the Council would consider repressing the report and the further work of the Special Commission. Citing the day, he delivered a long, passionate reflection that the Council "not turn our backs on the Cross.""I do not know if my conscience would allow me to remain in such a Church," he concluded - and with those words, left the room and the meeting.
Others then rose to speak, including Commission members Fr. Berzonsky, Mr. Nescott and Dr. Skordinski. Former long-time Administrative Committee member under the Kondratick administration Fr. Gregory Safchuk, joined the Commission members, to the surprise of many, saying that his parish "would accept nothing less that the truth and the Commission's work must be allowed to continue." The meeting passed its designated ending time - and several members had to leave.
Finally, Fr. John Reeves stood holding the Commission's report in one hand, and a Bible in the other. "We have spent too much time talking about this book, and not enough about this one," he said raising the Scriptures. Fr. Reeves went on to speak forcefully of Ananias from the New Testament, and the Prophet Amos from the Old. Fr. Matthew Tate then moved the question - and the Council voted 22-1 to reaffirm the Commission as an "independent body" responsible to the Council to continue its investigations. The Council then voted unanimously to recommend to the Synod of Bishops (which meets next week in Syosset) that Fr. Kondratick be suspended pending an ecclesiastical trial. The Council then voted to recommend to the Synod that the Commission's report be released to the Church following its presentation to the Synod (albeit in a redacted form so as to minimize any potential civil liabilities). The meeting adjourned soon thereafter.
- Mark Stokoe
Mark, I would like to respectfully post the following comments. Withheld my name. I fear retaliation from my OCA bishop.
COMMENTS from an OCA priest:
A) From DOCUMENT # 1, it can be understood that the MC Special Commission was appointed (named) by the Holy Synod and Metropolitan Council ... as stated ... "Stunned by the magnitude" of the report's revelations, members of the Holy Synod and Metropolitan Council named a special committee to continue the investigation.
Appointed to the committee were His Eminence, Archbishop Job of Chicago; His Grace, Bishop Benjamin of Berkeley; the Very Revs. Vladimir Berzonsky and John Reeves; Mr. Gregory Nescott and Dr. Faith Skordinski ... and NOT by the +MH. +MH has no Statute prerogatives to dismiss Mr Nescott. His action is REVENGE for telling the truth. Mr Nescott did not disclose any CONFIDENTIAL INFO from the MC Special Commission report.
B) From DOCUMENT # 2, it can be understood that On Tuesday, December 12, the hierarchs and Metropolitan Council members heard the long-awaited investigative report of Proskauer Rose and outside auditors. In response, a committee consisting of His Eminence, Archbishop Job of Chicago; His Grace, Bishop Benjamin of Berkeley; the Very Revs. Vladimir Berzonsky and John Reeves; Mr. Gregory Nescott and Dr. Faith Skordinski, was named to continue the investigation. +MH has no Statute prerogatives to dismiss Mr Nescott. His action is REVENGE for telling the truth. Mr Nescott did not disclose any CONFIDENTIAL INFO from the MC Special Commission report.
C) From DOCUMENT # 3, it can be understood that, "The participants of the joint session were stunned by the magnitude of today's revelations and have agreed to implement the following actions:
"1. A Special Committee was appointed by His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman to complete the investigation by Proskauer Rose and to keep the Metropolitan Council advised of developments as they occur. The Committee consists of His Eminence, Job, Archbishop of Chicago, Diocese of the Midwest; His Grace, Benjamin, Bishop of Berkeley, Administrator of the Diocese of the West; Very Reverend Vladimir Berzonsky, Diocese of the Midwest; Very Reverend John Reeves, Diocese of Western Pennsylvania; Mr. Gregory Nescott, Diocese of Western Pennsylvania; and Dr. Faith Skordinski, Diocese of Washington and New York.
"2. The Holy Synod will discuss what disciplinary action, if any, will be recommended.
The above quotation is not true, because +MH could not appoint the entire MC Special Commission ON HIS OWN WILL. There were MC members who nominated the MC Special Commission, not +MH. This is a MISINFORMATION, and it is posted this way probably by the OCA Communication Director, or someone like him. This info is wrong. +MH has no Statute prerogatives to dismiss Mr Nescott. His action is REVENGE for telling the truth. Mr Nescott did not disclose any CONFIDENTIAL INFO from the MC Special Commission report.
D) C) From DOCUMENT # 4, it can be understood that, V Rev Fr Thomas Hopko CORRECT in his REFLECTION. Everything should be implemented by the MC Special Commission as suggested. V Rev Fr Thomas Hopko MUST be called in as a member of the Special Commission. He has power, authority, courage and determination in pursuing the whole investigation. May God help him to be together with +Job and Nescott.
E) C) From DOCUMENT # 5, it can be understood that, COUNCIL VOTES TO AFFIRM SPECIAL COMMISSION'S MANDATE, RECOMMENDATIONS, DESPITE METROPOLITAN'S OPPOSITION. +MH has no business in interfering into the MC Special Commission work and protecting those who will be ultimately brought to justice either within the ecclesiastical courts, civil courts or criminal courts. +MH has no Statute prerogatives to dismiss Mr Nescott. His action is REVENGE for telling the truth. Mr Nescott did not disclose any CONFIDENTIAL INFO from the MC Special Commission report.
F) MH has demonstrated time and time again that he thinks he is above the Statute of the OCA. He simply does not follow it. We are told over and over to follow the Statute, to the letter. But, that is ridiculous if the Met. and the Holy Synod just ignore it. SHAME ON THEM. This is not a OCA Holy Synod anymore. It looks like a country club, or something much worse. They do not represent the Orthodoxy. None like them SHOULD be elected in the future as OCA Bishops, in case the OCA will survive this crisis.
G) We must persevere as Job did in the Old Testament; we must save our OCA. I believe with the prayers and perseverance of one strong bishop and the many committed faithful, the OCA will endure this scandal.
H) There will be no further contributions by any OCA member to the OCA nor any OCA church, agency, or seminary -- not until the bishops ALL RESIGN (except +JOB, Irineu, Alejo)! I am finished trying to decipher the posturing and sniping, +Nikolai "M.I.A." and the meaning behind it, +Dmitri "protecting" Fr Kondratick, while others are sacrificed. I have remained within the fold of the OCA out of respect to any bishop (except those mention above's parenthesis). But I have to ask, "How can we be 'loyal' to any OCA bishop, when he can be remove any priest or laity from any committee or board, at any time, with not even a semblance of due-process?"
I) As far as I can tell, there is no provision anywhere in The Statute for removing a sitting member of the Metropolitan Council. According to Article V, 1, members of the MC are elected either by their Diocesan Assembly or---in the case of 6 members and two alternates---by the All-American Council. Absent any other specific provision, the applicable principle seems to be that only the authority which appoints/elects has the authority to dismiss/recall.
Certainly neither Article IV nor Article V concede to the Metropolitan any specific authority to dismiss members of the Metropolitan Council. If, in this instance, the Metropolitan has dismissed Mr. Nescott on the supposed authority of Article IV, 2, I, he has once again misinterpreted "PASTORAL intervention" to mean "unilaterally assuming to one's self someone else's lawful authority."
But what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, is it not? When the Metropolitan used Article IV, 2, I to dismiss the former Chancellor from office, there were those who---because the Metropolitan's action suited their views, purposes, and desires---kept mum or even rejoiced. Well, NONE of those souls now have any right whatsoever to complain that he's done it again, this time to dismiss Mr. Nescott. The first time around, their silence gave consent and thereby allowed the setting of a precedent in how that provision is interpreted. Now we're all stuck with it.... unless and until the Holy Synod correct this error. +MH is an abuser.
J) I am actually waiting to see what the Commission has to say about the current actions of +Herman.
The OCA Commission reports a something the OCA hierarchy CANNOT place under the rug. If what was reported here is true, and I have no reason to believe it is not, +Herman may have committed a "FATAL ERROR." Either he or the OCA has crashed if these actions stand. Let us pray that it is not the OCA. +MH must leave the OCA, or retire.
It seems like I remember reading in Fr. Hopko's "Rainbow Series" that there have been instances in history of the laity "getting rid" of ungodly bishops. I don't recall him saying how. sigh.
K) Mark, let me express my thanks for your tireless efforts in keeping us informed in spite of the efforts of the administration to continue the cover-up. Second, I pray every day for +Job, Greg Nescott, Eric Wheeler, and the others who are working tirelessly to save our church also for the intervention by either/or the New York Attorney general, FBI, and/or the U.S. Justice Department. This financial scandal must be brought to a halt and the guilty punished. Anything less is unacceptable. +MH and his allies must go.
L) Financial pressure, legal action, and negative publicity will be the three avenues to affect change. The Metropolitan had a chance to provide moral leadership, but failed miserably to do so. The reasons are not hard to guess. I was hoping for more from our other hierarchs. Just ONE or very FEW OCA hierarchs are CLEAN. ALL +MH supporters ARE NOT CLEAN AT ALL, they must go too.
M) There could be some options to get rid of +MH and his allies:
1- A back bone hierarch to stand up and together with some other OCA hierarchs faithful to the Gospel, Canons and OCA Statute provisions CALL A SPECIAL MEETING for the OCA Bishops to discuss the matter of +MH retirement / resignation.
2- File a law suit in any NY court against the OCA +MH and former Chancellor, based upon the findings the MC Special Commission has in their hands as of this time.
3 - Build a LEGAL FUND made up of FREE WILL DONATION, tax deductible to support the law suit mentioned above.
4 - Call on SCOBA and specifically request NOT TO CONSIDER +MH as the OCA primate from April 1, 2007 on, and ask the SCOBA hierarchs to request +MH to step down.
5 - OCA Bishops and priests STOP TO COMMEMORATE the name of +MH, during any service.
6 - Write to the OCA Mother Church (The Russian and Moscow Patriarchate) a MEMORANDUM in which it should be proven ALL THE MC Special commission findings as reason for +MH as an UNFIT OCA Primate, and call on Moscow Patriarchate NOT to recognize +MH as the OCA primate.
7 - In case the Moscow Patriarchate DOES NOT WANT TO INTERVENE, (because of conflict of interest, or any other reasons), THEN the MC Special Commission, SHOULD CALL the laity to set up a PETITION OF SIGNATURES, send to the Ecumenical Patriarch, +BARTHOLOMEW I, in Istanbul, Turkey, asking him to convene an Orthodox Ecumenical Synod and have +MH removed as OCA primate, as the former patriarch of Jerusalem +Irineu, was removed from his office, and replaced by Theophilus.
It is about time to think of these options, and to have an OCA CLEANED UP and IN ORDER.
MARK, Please withheld my name at this time.
A very disturbed and disappointed OCA priest. ... 03 / 27 / 07
#80 Anonymous on 2007-03-27 20:53
It's a good thing you've chosen to withhold your name, since you are a member of the presbytery while simultaneously advocating schism. Unless you think His Beatitude has fallen into heresy, I would certainly not even consider not commemorating him.
#80.1 A Mission Priest on 2007-03-28 13:05
Thanks for adding some insight into Bishop Nikolai's no show, #75. However, these are extraordinary times and circumstances in the OCA church in that minimuns or the least requirements are not suffice. One can recall the horrific accident a few years ago killing most of the heirarchy of the Greek Patriarch of Alexanderia. Obviously this called for extraordinary meetings, actions, etc. You may not be aware of the feelings and atmosphere else were in the church. Unfortunately, The OCA Church is in survival mode. One would hope and expect all bishops to be present. This may mean leaving Alaska days in advance to counteract any weather delays, extra. If a bishop is ill, under "normal" circumstances one's word is suffice to be excused.However, because of recent circumstances and climate a doctor's verification may be necessary.
Yes, unfortunately there is so much mistrust and clouds over the Diocese of Alaska. I am not privy to exactly what transpired during the Holy Synod meeting but there are various electronic means that could aid someone not physically present.
In previous meetings Bishop Nikolai was reported to be very opionated on various topics. Common sense would make one to surmise that Bishop Nikolai "couldn't miss it" or defend is honor as necessary.
Native Alaskans, Pre Contact Alaskans, one would expect them to hold their Non European heritage with the utmost respect. Furthermore, some of the first outsiders to have lasting impact in Alaska were actually Ukrainian.
You report that Alaskans are proud of their Russian heritage and list the good works of saints.Stand back and ask would these saints approve of Bishop Nikolai behavoir ? What would these saints say of the many scandals facing the OCA in Alaska and Syosset? Common sense, decency can answer this. ARE NOT The TEN COMMANDMENTS relevant. At Saint Herman's how can the Russian Diocese Of Alaska teach morals, ethics, etc. let alone role model and mentor seminarians. Alaska may be thousands of miles from Syosset but both need the truth and light more than ever.
I urge you and your fellow orthodox christians in Alaska to come forward and share any information on improprieties. Use your combined influence on Bishop Nikolia to call for openess and to use common sense among others. Yes, TOCA church is in crisis and is being prolonged unnecessarily.
#81 a concerned orthodox christian on 2007-03-27 21:04
Is there only one possibility? Only one motive behind the aged Vladiko? Is it his sinister plot to sweep this mess under the rug? Maybe he's sitting in his "episcopal palace" rubbing his hands with a smirk on his face thinking of other scandals he can stir up? Maybe finally he's getting what he's been working so hard for over 30 years in the South to accomplish. Maybe he's expecting a large sum of money for his part in the sinister plot? Maybe he's already been forwarded the sum? But where has it gone? It couldn't have gone into his "episcopal palace", which is nothing but a pile of rotting matchsticks and flaking paint. Maybe into his transportation. I doubt that though. He still drives around that old brown 1980 town car. Maybe it goes into his "servants", maids, etc. Probably not. Like the rest of us joes he walks into the nearby Kroger and buys his own groceries. Maybe the money goes to paying his expensive cassocks. That's hard to believe if you take one looks at his sun bleached cassock the kind ladies at church patch up for him occasionally. Maybe he is using the money to pay for his rounds of golf at the Four Seasons or some of his other hobbies. The truth is he doesn't have many hobbies, just passions: passions for writing scriptural commentaries on his 20+ old typewriter. And when he's not doing that he's busy cooking. For whom, well he cooks up a good spread and freezes so that after the fast he cannot open up his shack to the whole parish, and have an honest to goodness feast. Maybe it goes into his medical expenses. I don't think so. To the chagrin of most of us, he refuses to do something about that mouth full of rotting teeth, for which he carries around a tube of orajel to help with the pain. He doesn't see the point of seeing a doctor about the pinched nerves in his legs, probably caused from standing so many years at the divine services. On more than one occasion has he pretty much collapsed during the services. Maybe the money is paying his "escapades" south of the border. I don't see how. His two or three days in Mexico are packed with services. He only goes after theophany, so he spends most of his time blessing the waters and visiting the parishes, then its back home to Texas. Maybe the money has gone into financing his "pilgrimages" to Russia or the Holy Land? Some of us wish he would take us up on the offer. The more I know Vladiko Dimitri, the more I think that for him, his Holy Land is here in this country, in his diocese, in his parishes among his people. So where is the money? Show me the money!
What I'm getting at is where is the motive? What past actions, I mean over the past 50 years of his priesthood and almost 40 years of his episcopacy warrant such hostility and out of hand condemnation. All we have is circumstancial evidence at best with respect to Vladiko Dimitri. Show us some hard facts, numbers, dates, names. And if you can't produce them, then establish a clear, definite motive. Look over his 50 years of service to the Church, look for the pattern of deceit and dishonesty, of neglect for his flock, and any other dirt you can find to establish a motive. If you honestly cannot, I urge you, brothers and sisters to please think twice before writing such blazing condemnations.
Is it out of the realm of possibility that the motive for receiving Fr. Kondratik into his diocese and subsequently "protecting" him is a genuine pastoral concern? Could it not be that he is genuinely concerned of the spiritual ramifications for Fr. Kondratick if he is completely cut off? Could it be that he refuses to use Fr. Kondratick as the lone scapegoat? I guess where you stand colors your perspective and guides one's interpretations of facts. Some of us see Vladiko more as the father who despite being on the receiving end of the harsh criticism of those who have always obeyed the Father, always been right, for waiting for and even receiving the prodigal son.
Have you, brother, and all of the other brothers and sisters who are coming down heavily on Vladiko Dimitri, looked so clearly into the heart of this aged pastor who's worked tirelessly for his diocese always promoting the spread of the gospel, the spread of missions, the building up of churches and communities, and have seen only one motive there? Could his “ban” on becoming preoccupied with the “scandal” be real concern that his flock will loose perspective on what’s most important and get caught up in the polemics and politics of the scandal? Before you answer commit yourself to a position, don't forget all things we have said or even thought, we will be called to give an account for at the judgment. If you have plumed the depths of his heart and only see ill motives, then be prepared to stick to your decision when you are called to give an account for it before the Judge.
If I am wrong, we are wrong, those of us who stand behind Vladiko Dimitri, then we will be guilty of being naďve and deluded. But, we won’t be guilty of placing ourselves in the place of God and judging him. Maybe some will say we, by standing behind him, become accomplices to …..well …..what? What are the solid, concrete charges and evidence against him anyway?
Brothers and sisters, before we defame and discredit this aged and well beloved hierarch, let us look at the whole picture of his life.
Brother Nicholas, I still retain enough of the protestant in me not to set any man above reproach. However, in light of the years I have known him, I respect him very deeply. I’ve seen his faults, enough to know he’s one of us, made of clay and puts his pants on one leg at a time. But I've also seen his great zeal for the Church, his love for Christ and tender care for his flock.
#82 A different perspective on 2007-03-28 08:34
KEEP UP THE GREAT AND NECESSARY WORK MARK.
I WOULD LIKE TO COMMENT ON POST #75 and elaborate on #81. Alaska in the early days, during contact, was settled by many slavs from Siberia. These slavs were actually Ukrainian cossacks, Zaporozhian, who were exiled by Catherine II in 1775 to Siberia. Of great interest should be Father Agapine Honcharenko (1832-1906) from Kiev and of cossack roots. He had changed his name to protect his family from his Ukrainian nationalist / antitsarist activities. In Alaska, he publishe the first American newspaper in russian and ukrainian. Also, authored the first educational books for NATIVE ALASKANS and fought for their causes. This included at times, various groups who wanted to enslave the Aleuts. The father was at odds at times with fellow priests and superiors.
This is not meant to be a history lesson but to inspire the heirarchy to respect the laity, be truthful and open as Father Honcharenko was.
Later in his life, Father Honcharenko and his wife settled in California. His writings and humanitarian work continued. Above a door hung one of his favorite saying "revenge on the wolves that devour the lamb." How timeless and appropriate.
As mentioned on many posts, the OCA is in crisis.Bishop Nikolai's non attendance at the synod meeting shows a lack of common sense, judgement, and is a snub on the laity as a whole.
May God save the OCA from the likes of some of our heirarchy.
As a footnote, the father's settlement was made into a state landmark, #1025. Various Ukrainain religous bodies, catholic, orthodox, and protestants attended the landmark's dedicaion. Can't we all get along!
#83 a concerned orthodox christian on 2007-03-28 14:59
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