Monday, January 28. 2008
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At the risk of being accused of interfering in another diocese, I will nonetheless offer my opinion on the principles as I see them.
I have great sympathy for Bishop Nikon. It must be very painful for him to be a member of the Synod right now, and must also be very important for him to want to maintain some semblance of unity within his diocese.
As much sympathy as I have for Bishop Nikon, I have more for the parish in Ansonia. The problem is not that the withholding will cause a division in the diocese. The diocese is already divided on the issue. The withholding in contrast to the Assembly is merely a symptom of a division that already exists.
In my admittedly outside opinion, I would think it more prudent for Bishop Nikon to call for an immediate meeting of the Synod to deal with the root cause of the division rather than calling for another meeting of the parish to deal with a symptom.
The root cause, as the whole world is aware, is corruption on the Synod, a corruption of the worst sort.
And now a child molester was ordained. Did we all hear that? A child molester was ordained and serves as a Reader, and the bishop that did it still serves as a Shepherd.
This is cause for an immediate meeting of the Synod. Will this meeting be called? No. Instead, a meeting will be called to see why a parish has trouble trusting the Synod that tolerates this.
How long O Lord? How long?
Priest Christopher Wojcik
#1 Priest Christopher Wojcik on 2008-01-28 14:25
#1.1 Gino Rosa on 2008-01-29 08:23
Dear Fr. Christopher:
The leopard is not going to changes its spots. The modus operandi of the Holy Synod, Syosset and their clergy and lay accomplices for decades has been to criticize the truth-teller or truth-asker. Every time. My experience is the same. This behavior should show everyone that the OCA leadership is corrupt, immoral, unethical and incompetent. Anyone remain with any semblance of decency needs to reveal himself/herself before the axe falls. The axe always has a way of falling. They cannot keep a lid on the rotting filth they are striving mightily to hide, hoping the ignorant peasants will tire of their rowdiness and get back with the program. That is their fantasy yet... that the peasants will get back to old program. Why else are they so stubbornly holding out in the wake of the corruption revelations?
#1.2 Anon. on 2008-02-02 09:09
This is exactly what every parish in the OCA should do! Why give money to anyone when you have no REAL accounting of where past monies went or where future monies are going? The same person who was Treasurer during the theft of the money is now the head guy and isn't leaving. Furthermore, he has already deleted and hid information in the report regarding the theft of millions. So why give this guy more money? Let him step down and let's all find out where the money went and be assured of where future monies are REALLY going!
#2 Anono-Moose on 2008-01-28 15:07
Treasurer, yes. But '..in name only.... in name only" repeated twice for emphasis a year ago in Bethesda. So Anony-moose friend, that makes it OK, right? Really, why would Herman lie about such an important thing?
But then again, after following this for the last 2-3 years he just might be lying after all!?
Bravo Ansonia. Straight talking Yankee's were the hotbed of the American Revolution. OCAmerica membership notwidthstanding; as Americans we expect the right to petition, the right to be heard, and real answers are a part of the equasion.
#2.1 Jim Murray on 2008-01-28 18:15
Here's the truth. + Theodosius and RSK created the secret discretionary accounts to have monies and use the money for whatever and whenever they wanted, without question. 1 for the church, 2 for us; 2 for the church, 3 for us; etc. + Herman knew this money came from somewhere and was used for trips, bribes, good times, etc. + Herman was complicit knowing this money came from secret places and was used without accounting. HE KNEW. The other bishops also knew money was flowing out of Syosset like water and was unaccounted for. The MC knew there were irregularities. So, without a proper house cleaning, the OCA can't recover. How about the resignation of the entire SOB? Under who's watch did this happen?
#2.1.1 Anono-Moose on 2008-01-29 20:45
I'm relatively new to all this, but has anyone made any mention on here yet of the other accounts - namely the accounts still in the name of the old Russian Metropolia that the Metropolitans and the chancellor had (and probably still have) access to? My understand is that these too went unaudited and widely unknown to most clergy and laity. What's the story with all that money? Where is it now, in Eastern PA somewhere?
#184.108.40.206 Anonymous on 2008-01-30 00:42
Moose, very concise encapsulation.... of course Herman knew! Nods and winks, no questions asked -- MANY knew. "Why would Herman lie about such an important thing..." was an attempt to have a retorical question; if it looks like duck, and walks like a duck, etc.
Look at all the OCA's Department & Organizations on their website - scroll down and each will highlight and you can read what each is supposed to do. Takes a lot of departments to manage our 2 million members, no? By citing the absurd 2 million number is the same writing device as wondering if Herman knew. (Duck quietly quacking in the background...)
Setting aside how viable most of these departments & organizations are; the one that does not highlight, the one that has no page, no staff, no nothing is the Legal Advisory Board!? Hysterical in light of what is going on!
So the OCA has no need fro any legal advice, then?
Quack... quack. Quackquack.
Moose, I need no convincing that the OCA is crooked and doomed. Quite a while ago on this site I used to type them as $lyo$$et. Quack$ louder.
#220.127.116.11 Jim M on 2008-01-30 02:15
Everyone should be aware that Ansonia is originally where Dn. Eric Wheeler is from. This parish has been appalled how + Theodosis, RSK, + Herman and other bishops in the SOB have demonized Dn. Eric for coming forward to expose the truth. It is now clear to all who the real demons are. They should withhold everything until the entire truth is publicly exposed and apologies are publicly given to Dn. Eric and his family!
#3 InfoNut on 2008-01-28 15:23
Good job, members of Three Saints in Ansonia! And when your Bishop comes, I hope and pray you will hold the line!
I also hope that there will be some discussion of the horrible ramifications of the "lack" of meaningful action we have seen to date from Syosset and from our Synod. It isn't only actions that have consequences.
#4 Cathryn Tatusko on 2008-01-28 15:51
And, so it goes. On and on, the Bishops clearly do not understand the depth of the outrage, not too strong a word, which exists among the faithful. I received a copy of the latest OCA magazine, and there was a picture of the Bishops meeting at a Synod meeting; don't know if it was recent, as the caption did not say. And it looked very much like a "business-as-usual" meeting. These august gentlemen just don't seem to understand that it's not "business-as-usual" right now. It's the old story: If an outside Church came in and tried to enforce the lack of accountability and cover-up upon us, we would be greatly offended and outraged; but, since it is happening from within, as someone else said, "They just sit there."
Personally, I find little to be hopeful about in this sordid scandal, and our Bishops have shown little inclination to rise to their responsibilities in the matter. Personally, I'm giving the resolution of this outrageous episode of theft and corruption until the AAC this year; if +Herman is still in office after that (let's not even mention +Nikolai) then that will be all I need to know. I am signing my name, against my better judgment, because someone at my Parish recently asked me if I was "X" anonymous poster on this site. Well, I'm not anonymous. And I am pleased to be a member of St Mark in Bethesda, the "hot-bed of the revolution" as someone has called it. So be it; not what I expected to be a part of when I joined the Church only a few years ago as a wide-eyed convert to Orthodoxy, from protestantism. Fortunately for me, I have not lost my faith, or my belief in the Orthodox Way, and I have been a part of many organizations and initiatives of high-minded ideals, which have nevertheless been trampled upon by unscrupulous and self-serving men (and it's usually men) in my civilian and military careers to know the difference between the human-run Church and the Spirit-guided Faith. A scandal is one thing; but the way this is being mis-handled by the leadership of the OCA at all levels is truly amazing, even breath-taking!
#4.1 Stephen Morgan on 2008-01-29 07:33
Another Morgan replying to you.
I am continually disgusted by the revelations on this list.
I hope we can overcome and at some time in ttyhe futre actually be the Orthodox Church in America, but I'm not holding my breatth right now. I am particulary distressed by certain actions of Bp. Benjamin and Bp. Nikon, whom I had hoped would rise above tthe slough of mediocrity. (f they read this, they will know what I'm referring to. Bp. Benjamin knows me and can talk to me if he wants. I'm very disappointed in him right now.
#4.1.1 rdrjames on 2008-01-31 18:02
The theft of millions demands no special action by the Bishop. He just sits there.
The immorality of fellow bishops demands no special action by the bishop. He just sits there.
The cover up and lies of the Metropolitan in this financial scandal demands no special action of the Bishop. He just sits there.
The tonsuring of criminal sex offenders demands no special action by the bishop. He just sits there.
Job being reprimanded for trying to assist an investigation in Alaska again the Bishop sits there just like the rest of the Holy Synod. Silent and non annimated is the present condition of the Synod that desires to be known as Holy.
But God forbid that a parish withhold what is essentially a voluntary donation to the central church which has been at the forefront of manifesting what Christ is not. Now special action and speaking up by the Bishop is necessary.
Is it really the assessments that make us one in the OCA? Is it the money that defines our unity? Would our fellowship be broken if we gave nothing? Is there something essential at stake to demand the Bishop's immediate action to save the souls of those people at Three Saints?
This is not the old country where the tithes are collected with the rest of the taxes and withholding is a violation with criminal consequences.
This parish is guilty of the offense of "mistrust". They "mistrust" their diocesan council, which refused to go against their Bishop, who refused to go against Herman and the conventional wisdom of todays Holy Synod. I am guilty also. The Bishop say nothing and just keep sending in the money. They expect the same from us. Yet these hierarchs continue in their silence about sins and are not concern with the protection of the sheep entrusted to their care.
Nikon is not a bad man but his faith in his fellow Bishops is misplaced and right now he is in danger of fighting on the wrong side of this of this issue. Any heavy handedness will backfire on him and he like most of the rest of our Bishops will wake up one day and find that they have scattered the flock.
God bless you the members of three Saints.
#5 anon priest on 2008-01-28 15:59
You have clearly summarized the "official" policy of OCA bishops:
(a) If it has anything to do with spiritual issues, violation of canon laws by derilict bishops, squandering and stealing Church funds (even millions), tonsuring of Statutory rapists, allowing the destruction of parishes by incompetent priests (friends of the Bishop), abuses of power by hierarchs, or any other unethical and criminal conduct by Synod members or "favored" leaders then DO NOTHING for years on end.
(b) If any action by any parish or priest threatens the unrestricted flow MONEY to Syosset, then SPRING INTO ACTION IMMEDIATELY and give it your FULL ATTENTION.
We got it now!
OCA New Slogan: "IT'S ALL ABOUT THE MONEY!"
Dear Anon Priest:
There could be a rape in Ansonia's basement and O-CYA Central would send them the help of a thug masquerading as an investigator. The rape victim would end up apologizing for disturbing the "peace". The incident would not be "re-visited." No action!
But let the cash flow stop, and the bishop himself rides in on his horse to protect the "unity" of his diocese, built not on love of God but on love of Mammon.
Bravo, Ansonia, for joining those who are tearing down our leaders' idol. Now, the rest of you, stop sending them money! Perhaps then our leaders will return to love of the true and living God and the proper care of their sheep.
Another anon. priest
#5.2 Another anon. priest on 2008-01-28 23:14
I received a phone call from His Grace, Bishop Nikon, informing me of the decision of the parish to withhold today and I have to say that I was greatly saddend to hear this.
There are already several good comments and several bad comments above mine on this subject however I would just like to share my own personal thoughts on the subject. Unlike what someone said above that, there has been a ""lack" of meaningful action ... from Syosset" there has in fact been a considerable amount of action.
There is no longer a system without financial checks and balances. A new audit firm is in the process of being engaged. New procedures are in place to account for all deposits and expenditures. Many new policies, from formal check requests to procedures to make sure that the budgets are adhered to have been implemented. A settlement was reached with Proskauer Rose to pay off the remaining legal bills. The FBI has been contacted about their investigation. A law firm was chosen via a special conference call with the metropolitan council to defend the church against the lawsuit filed by Mrs. Elizabeth Kondratick. I personally spent a couple of hours this past Saturday with the new Special Investigative Commission and I can assure you that they are looking at everything and everyone.
Having spent many many hours away from my wife and children to come and help the church I do take personal offense at those who feel like nothing is being done. And I know that I am not alone. There are many people giving of their time and talents to fix the mistakes/failures of the past. They aren't doing this for glory, accolades, awards, or recognition. They are doing this just because they want to help.
The sins of the past were massive and extremely complicated and they simply can't be reduced to just "release all of the documents" or the resignation of one man and it will all be over. Many of the documents that people are clammoring for are not things that can be disseminated until the litigation surrounding them is resolved. Believe me, I would love for this stuff to be over but it is going to take a very long time. The wheels of justice move at an incredibly slow pace.
Now just my two cents on the withholding of assessments. People like myself, Fr. Alexander Garklavs, Fr. Andrew Jarmus and a number of other people are working to serve the Church, the OCA. It sounds good to threaten the withholding of assessments but why should we work if we aren't going to get paid? The same could be said for a parish that would choose not to pay its priest. How long do you think he would hold out?
Of course some will make the argument that their little parish doesn't amount to much but what they are really saying is that Joe Someone (not themselves) is supposed to take care of the problem. Yes, it is true that we can survive if one parish decides to withhold its assessments. But what about a whole diocese?
What I am trying to say here is that yes, the withholding of assessments will hurt the very people that have come in to help fix the mess. We're not the enemies. In fact, we are on the same team. And it is categorically unfair to label us with abstract terms as so many have done like "Syosset," "the Chancery," "the Central Administration."
Look, there are only three people on the administrative team and our emails and telephone numbers are clearly posted on the OCA website. We are three people who were hired to helped fix the problems. Strangling the very people who have made personal sacrifices to actually help the church doesn't seem to make a lot of sense. I fully understand that people are raw with emotion and anger but that isn't going to solve the problems.
I would also like to say that we all share a responsibility to fix the mess. Many people have trusted the OCA with their financial resources. They trusted the OCA to use their contributions for things like helping 9/11 victims, orphans, missions, seminarians, and many others. I believe that we have a duty to God and to the Church to see that their wishes are respected and followed through.
It's somewhat akin to two streetracers racing at one another playing chicken. They collide with one another and there is carnage everywhere. We can stand there and say, "What a bunch of fools, they shouldn't have been racing in the first place." But we should also help to get the fools out of the car, and get the wreckage off the side of the road so that the next car driving by doesn't have an accident.
We have a duty to the Church to clean this mess up for future generations of Orthodox Christians. And again, not to be abstract but this means your children, your grandchildren, and their children. And this will take both time and money.
I will even go on record to say that if it costs us $1.50 for every dollar that was given and squandered then we still owe it to these donors. We owe it to them as stewards and we owe it because it is simply the right thing to do. At the end of the day we will be judged by God and I hope and pray that I can get up each and every day and say that I did everything in my power to help the church correct its sins of the past, that I did everything in my power to fix what I could and to make it right. If it takes more money and effort to fix the mistakes than to bury them, then that is what I believe we in the central administration of the OCA are willing to do and should do. We have a duty to defend the church against the lawsuit brought on by the Kondraticks and we have a duty to allow the investigative committee to seriously examine everything and to take their examination process seriously. We also have a duty to make sure that every dollar that was misspent is accounted for and replaced.
In the past I was actually for the withholding of assessments because I thought that it would be the only way to get anyone's attention. What I failed to fully consider was what it was going to take to get the church back on course. If anyone doesn't thing the withholding of assessments from the Midwest got everyone's attention, you're wrong. It did and as His Eminence, Archbishop Job rightly stated, it got the central administration to reexamine its priorities and to live within its means. However, the Church needs to continue to rebuild. It is beginning to do so in many positive ways, some of which such as implementing internal control procedures are somewhat intangible and are as exciting as a glass of prune juice. Nonetheless they are important for the Church.
I hope and pray that the parish will reconsider its decision. Incidentally, the complete 2007 financial report should be on the OCA's web site by March 1st.
Priest Michael Tassos, Treasurer
Orthodox Church in America
#6 Priest Michael Tassos on 2008-01-28 17:56
Great post Fr. Michael. I was glad to see your courage in standing up for what is true, honest and the integrity of what's really being done to correct this massive financial mess.
Not everyone is blind to what good IS happening.
I gladly paid my 2008 OCA Assessment last Sunday.
#6.1 Michael Geeza on 2008-01-29 14:42
Forgive me, Father, if you really do want to see change; it sounds like you do. But, even if so, I see these words as those that can come only from willful (even if well-intentioned) blindness. I, and the many others who see this too could be wrong, sure. But, not all of those who think this way are stupid, spiritually immature, and/or maverick in nature, even if I may be.
You're preaching to the wrong choir: its up to the Met, to the HS. Your blame seems laid at the feet of victims who are now acting in one accord, and surely with prayer, as good stewards. All that need be done is for the Met to step aside, and/or the HS to "man up." Without that, your money would do no more that white wash a tomb ... not get the OCA back on course. Money does not steer the Church--Truth does.
Its too disturbing to point out the several red herrings in this post; maybe someone less beat up by the banality of it all will take that task. The stuff coming out of Syossett -- even by those who may, deep down, really want to take right action -- is still (still!) the same insipid, draining, indefatigable insistence on holding the party line--entrenched, impervious, unbending. No!
#6.2 Anonymous on 2008-01-29 14:54
Yes, protect your income, your salaries are very important to you just as they are to MH. Unless he goes, you are just another voice crying in the wilderness. We have been crying for two years. You owe a lot to even begin to catch up.
#6.2.1 MP on 2008-01-29 15:48
Thank you for your insightful, honest, clear and seemingly heart-felt comments. If only Herman would take not of your example, and those of others at the Chancery, and actually be honest for once. I think the majority of us understand your difficult situation and pray for you.
Your points about funding the mechanism of the Church are not just well-stated, but true. However, the fact remains that dirty, dishonest and shameful bishops remain at the top of our Church. HOW ELSE CAN WE CHANGE THIS WHEN THE ONLY THING THEY REACT TO IS MONEY??? Herman knew about RK's spending. They ALL knew at the time, but business is business and they just want it to disappear with RK.
Honestly, if you and Fr Garklavs were in full charge of the OCA I would sleep well at night. But it's your boss(es) who scare me, who disgust me and who get no respect from me.
May God help you, but more importantly help all of us.
#6.3 Anonymous on 2008-01-29 15:13
Dear Father Tassos:
I very much appreciate the fact that you've taken your time and made an effort to communicate with us through this medium.
As you quoted from my earlier post, I want to assure you that I am not lacking awareness of how much work you and others have done to put new systems in place that will safeguard against future malfeasance in the OCA.
However, you must have the integrity to acknowledge that NONE of these things would have been done had it not been for the constant demands for change coming from the ranks of OCA members. Please do not lecture us about our duty to the church. We understand our duty--that's why we are speaking out.
Do you think that all of the rest of us want to spend the next decade of our lives dealing with this mess in the OCA--as volunteers? For you it's a paid position--for us, it means giving over and over again only to get back to square one! We'd prefer to do other things with our financial means and with our time and effort. And I won't even go to the arguably much more important issue of what is happening in the moral realm of the OCA...
Please pass this message on to those working to make things right again: The OCA will never recover with +Herman at the helm. You have simply GOT to get this! People are not going to start opening their pocketbooks again until this man is out of the picture. You and others can deceive yourselves on this point as long as you want--but it is blatantly clear to the vast majority of us. The fox is still guarding the henhouse--and, until he's gone, we're not buying any more chickens!
#6.4 Cathryn Tatusko on 2008-01-29 15:19
I just want to echo Mrs. Tatusko's last paragraph. Metropolitan Herman MUST go. Period.
#6.4.1 AnonPriest(ArchOfCan) on 2008-01-29 15:50
With all due respect Father, thank you for your sincerity and forthright comments. I would submit, however, that the way in which this scandal was handled from the beginning (or mis-handled) indicates that IF NOT FOR WITH-HOLDING, we would still be in the midst of a cover-up. That is what +MH and others wanted to do from the beginning. If it were not for the "revolt" indicated by with-holding, then you would not be in your position, because the initial plan of action on the part of +MH, and others including the Synod, would have been to maintain all of the Old Guard in-place to keep trying to paper-over the facts. When a crime has been committed, it's not enough to just remove the cars from the tracks to use your analogy. The drivers/racers need to be found, and prosecuted (a) as punishment, and (b) to ensure that they're not in a position to do it all again, having gotten away with it in the first place. One can see what happens in our society when those convicted of DUI/DWI are given their drivers' licenses back - they often go out and do it again! How many times have I seen a death due to DWI, when the perpetrator has a rap-sheet as long as your arm, with maybe 10 or 15 previous DUIs/DWIs, usually with suspended sentences, slaps on the wrist, and so forth; and now they are driving again! Back to your analogy, would you re-hire (or continue in employment) the drivers of your out-of-control streetcars? I think not. And yet, +MH and possibly others continue in their positions. And that's all just the practical; let's think, too, about the moral issues. I hate to use this phrase since it's politically charged these days, but ... well, "regime change" is what is needed. In fact, I think that you're part of the regime change, but it's taken with-holding, threats of further action, and so forth to get THAT done, and it's not enough with the Top Dogs still in place, and still working to continue the cover-up. Finally, I keep hearing in the back of my head (figuratively speaking), another individual's words that, "If this all comes out it would destroy the Church!" Well, let's get "it" all out there NOW and deal with it TODAY, or at least by the AAC this year. Otherwise whatever "it" is will be hanging over all of our heads for years to come, and I think there's something in Scripture about a foolish man building a house on shifting sands. With all due respect Father, I'm just not interested in being a part of that building crew! Let's deal with this now, so that what we do re-build as the OCA is on a firm foundation, with truthful, honest leadership at the top. This is needed. Many on this site have argued for a weak Synod, a weak Met, a weak central church administration; I for one am not interested in that either. But in any case, I'm interested in having a group of honest, caring, involved Bishops running this Church, and not a group of the "Old Guard" more interested in making sure none of the past ever comes to light going forward. Our Bishops are canonically powerful, and we can't afford to have in power one or more who've gone dis-honest - and it's apparent that that is what's happened; and I'm not saying all of our Bishops are dis-honest, but if even one is, it reflects exceptionally poorly on the Church, and makes life quite difficult for the others; this lesson should have been learned from the Roman Catholic sex scandals of the past few years; or "Tail-Hook" and Naval officers; we don't want to be painted with that brush.
And by the way, with firm and honest leadership clearing a path, the wheels of justice and truth do NOT have to grind so slowly. They're grinding slowly here because it's in the interest of certain parties that they do so, and these parties are involved in blocking and obstructing the fact-finding and the process. This can be done not only by brute force, but by constantly re-organizing, appointing and un-appointing people to committees, refusing to release testimony and evidence; obstruction is a well-honed science, esp if you hire the right lawyers to help you; and they can make it all sound so reasonable and "pragmatic" and professional; what it is, though, is the High Art of "Lies of Omission." Meanwhile, time drags on, people forget, people die, people drift away, and viola - you (the "hider") get to stay in-place in your position.
#6.4.2 Stephen Morgan on 2008-02-01 08:16
Dear Father Michael,
Rarely have I read a less bureaucratic thus sincere letter as yours that has come from the central administration of any body. Thank you very much. I hope that you are NOT the exception.
In any case, I hope you can understand that the people--that is the parts of body of the Lord who are not bishops, can "vote" in very few ways. They really cannot do anything, at parish or national levels, within getting the blessing of the bishops. So, they are reduced to speaking angrily, withholding monies, saying special prayers, organizing petition drives, or simply voting with their feet.
You are right: there have been quite a few process improvements. On the other hand, I am sure you also know that such improvements are not sufficient to prevent bad behavior by monarchical bishops. To paraphrase, the Metropolitan and some others seem to be saying "L'egliise, c'est moi!"
You may have been given lemons when you came over to be the treasurer. I admire that you are indeed making good, may be great, lemonade. You seem to be a good man, good priest and good treasurer. Hope and pray that you survive all of this. God bless you.
#6.5 Carl on 2008-01-29 15:21
Bravo Fr. Tassos!
There is no doubt you are someone who will surely make a positive impact regarding this mess. The problem is that the OCA cannot recover while "the fox is in the hen house" - + Herman must step down immediately. He can claim his innocence until the cows come home, but the fact is, without a proper house cleaning, the OCA can't move forward. Asking all the OCA to wait until Nov. is ridiculous. STEP DOWN + HERMAN - FOR THE GOOD OF THE CHURCH.
#6.6 Anonymous on 2008-01-29 15:28
Thank you for your thoughtful and reasonable statement of the situation as you see it. I am gladdened by your account of the steps taken to make past errors not repeatable. However, you miss the reason, I think, of why the laity is so upset; new accounting sytems and dedicated, honest, workers are a fine thing to prevent hanky-panky in the future, but they do nothing to address the disgusting abrogation of responsibility by those entrusted to shepherd their flock. People want above all else ACCOUNTABILITY for past actions and to date there has been none forthcoming except an attempt to hang the whole mess on a single Priest. Without confession, correction, and change, there can be no reasonable assurance that the sordid and black "errors" of the past will not be repeated. A little off-the-shelf accounting software is not going to foil embezzlers and you know it.
Also, while I am venting a bit, I hope you don't mind me mentioning the bit about shared responsibility.
You wrote, "I would also like to say that we all share a responsibility to fix the mess. Many people have trusted the OCA with their financial resources. They trusted the OCA to use their contributions for things like helping 9/11 victims, orphans, missions, seminarians, and many others. I believe that we have a duty to God and to the Church to see that their wishes are respected and followed through."
Come now, this is just the same as telling the victim of a violent rape that it was all her (or his) fault for being somehow provocative. The Church on the whole shares responsibility for getting screwed out of millions and millions of dollars just because the rank and file did not vigilantly investigate and surveil those heirs to the Apostles who had total moral, legal, and spiritual responsibility for the welfare and health of the Church? I don't think so.
#6.7 John M. Mize, Kentucky on 2008-01-29 18:03
I really believe that you are trying to do better for the Church.
But don't quote about the SIC. We had a great SIC but don't you remember? Hermie squashed them at every step. They themselves called the whole thing a sham! Now we are supposed to believe that the new committee will investigate the sexual immorality that lies at the heart of a lot of the missing money? Don't con me Fr. Michael!
Do you think we're stupid? Do you think we will forget month after month of lies, coverups, and fraud? Who do you think we are?
And don't even try to say that withholding money hurts the church. Don't you realize that that is the one thing that is saving the church?
Herman must go! Nikolai must go! The museum at St. Tikhon's must be renamed for the children of Beslan instead of a thief!
No money while a liar, a fraud, and a dictator runs the show! Hooray for Ansonia!
#6.8 Eddie Kayeti on 2008-01-29 19:54
I have been told that you are a very honorable man and your comments and concerns indicate this. But I ask you in all humility why in God's name would anyone give to a Church hierarchy which in the past has been so bereft of fundamental standards of conduct, and which shows so little sign of improvement. While you talk of the complexity of the situation, most see it in very clear and simple terms: massive theft, lack of accountability, and immoral conduct. And until this Church deals substantively with these issues, I strongly support all efforts to withhold funds. For in your own words, the withholding of funds by the Midwest reoriented Syosset priorities. Prior appeals by laity, by clergy, and most importantly, the appeal to each bishop's apostolic responsibilities, did not. What a sad testimony about our Church. We all hope for a new beginning, but it will need to be based on more than improved accounting.
#6.9 David Paynter on 2008-01-29 21:16
Dear Fr. Michael,
I can sympathize with much of what you wrote but only to a point. You unfortunately are stuck in the middle. I don’t envy you or anyone else answering the call to help fix this mess. But the most important thing that escapes you is the fact that trust and credibility have been lost and in fact continues to be lost first and foremost in the leadership of +MH. Taking into account the ineptitude and silence of the Holy Synod and the reprehensible actions of a problem/disturbed bishop - I hope you can understand the eruption of emotion & anger among God’s people. There is no sobornost here. I am sure that good steps have been taken and new procedures have been enacted by good people like yourself, but the truth remains until +MH steps down/or is removed and the Holy Synod has the courage to standup and actually be holy, all attempts at rebuilding will be ineffective. Please help us convey this truth strongly to +MH and his fellow bishops. Thank you.
#6.10 Andrew A. Lukashonak on 2008-01-29 22:08
You put anyone less than Jesus himself into the administration in Syosset and no one is going to lend any credibility to what they say. The problem is the Metropolitan, the problem is the Synod, period. Your note is very nice, but there’s a few points with it that deserve noting.
First I want to say that it’s a fairly despicable act on the part of Mr. Nikon to call Syosset to tell them about a parish of HIS. After all, Syosset doesn’t care how the money gets there from a diocese. The diocese collects the money and sends it to Syosset. How that money is raised is the job of the bishop. Or was it his desire that by formally alerting Syosset that he gains another point of pressure against that parish? There is no other explanation. A low act, indeed.
This is a moral issue, its not an accounting issue. We know you’re going to do the right thing now because all eyes are upon you. But what we want to know is what happened BEFORE you came here and nothing is going to improve monetarily until that happens. If people aren’t paid so be it! You came to work under an Episcopal cabal that no one trusts, believes, and would like to see run out of town. We don’t want to give them another red cent because we want to know what happened BEFORE. Your note is very nice and it does exactly what Herman and the Synod want you to do. Give us soothing words and credibility that all is well now and that we can move along. Well, that’s all fine and good, but unless we get answers on what happened and accountability for all the monies that are missing, whatever you say is not going to change people’s use of their money. But they think they can pull the wool over our eyes bringing in qualified people such as yourself thinking we’ll overlook what they have done. Your note is a classic of what they want us to believe. Give us a semblance of normalcy and rules and that all is above board and people are going to forget the massive misappropriation of millions of dollars. To THAT I say they are sorely mistaken. When we get answers on what happened then we can move ahead. If we don’t know what went wrong, how can you assure us that it can never happen again? How can you tell us that its fixed when we don’t even know what’s wrong.
You see, Fr. Michael, we have a bunch of people who don’t believe in God, as far as we can tell from their actions, and you can tell more about people from how they act rather than what they say. The previous writers on this thread have outlined some of the morally perverse actions they have condoned or followed. A penny given to them means that we condone their behavior. We don’t and we won’t. A penny given to them means that we want this behavior to continue. We don’t and we won’t. A penny given to them means a penny not going to a good cause. We have wasted enough money on this bunch and its about time that it ended until the organization again proves itself worthy. You can come back and tell me that I’m promoting not being a good steward and that its our responsibility to maintain God’s Church. I counter that money is not the only resource in which a Church runs. If the moral fiber underlying it is rotted to the core, money will just keep the problem going. The people who have shown us they have nothing but contempt for us and use the Church as a means for feeding their perversions are still there. Ok, Kondratick and his finely tanned skin is gone. Kucynda is gone. Strikis doesn’t write the checks. But we know those people weren’t the only ones and we know that if we had men of God over them this wouldn’t have gotten to where it is. It’s the bishops. How much kicking and screaming did the bishops do for them just to acknowledge there was a problem?
If you are worried about where your salary is going to come from, I suggest that you express your concern to the Metropolitan. Express your concern to the other bishops. Don’t come here peddling the story you are. The ball is in the court of the bishops and they’ve done nothing and have given every appearance that they have no concern to correct what’s wrong and that they were part and parcel of everything that went on during these times. You speak of the new systems, but what about the much ballyhooed best practices? Sounds like those are going to go by the wayside. People put all their eggs into that basket and it looks like the bishops are going to, well, prevent themselves from being accountable. But why? People who have nothing to hide don’t mind opening themselves to the light. We have bishops who wallow in the darkness with no interest in coming into the blinding light. THOSE are the people that can get the money for your salaries coming in.
You say we all have a responsibility in this. What the hell is this site all about? This site has been the biggest example of shared responsibility and desire to correct problems and move on that the OCA has ever seen and may ever see. But you people there just see responsibility as sending in money. When we talk here about changes that should be done, voice our concerns, get angry over what’s going on, there’s not a peep out of you people, just like Nikon turned his back on his parishes. But when we talk money all of a sudden people’s ears, like yours, perk up. Did you know that your response on here mimicks the response of Nikon to the Ansonia parish? Its as shallow as that.
It sickens me to no end in this mess that whenever there’s a face off, whenever there’s a point of decision, that’s its always the faithful who are called to change their ways and back down. Its always the faithful that the administration and the bishops say are in the wrong. It’s about time, in your call for shared responsibility, for the administration and the bishops to take some of that responsibility and do what’s right like you say we must do in God’s eyes. Remember, the faithful didn’t one day get together and say, “Hey, let’s have some fun with the leadership in our Church and cut their funding!”. No, what happened was we were and are presented with a situation that is making a mockery of the Orthodox faith in America let alone the organization of the OCA. And the bishops, and the administration, in their never ending way of confronting these issues always blame the faithful for their acts. Father, what do you tell people, in your sermons, to do when they face evil? Slap it on the back and say, “You go to it, boy! We’re all behind you!” No, you say to confront and fight it. Father, we are doing what you and your fellow priests tell us to do when confronted with evil and now you’re saying that what we are doing is wrong. What it comes down to is it sounds like a spiritual three card Monty.
Bottom line, don’t come telling us we need to step up and fund the Church, we’re ready, willing, and have our checkbooks open. What we want is an equal desire on the part of the bishops and there lies the roadblock. When you want people to take responsibility, when you want people to support the Church and God’s word, you go to talk to your bishops. Those are the people that need a serious talking to. Not the people here who are disgusted about hearing about this for two years already over everything they should be hearing at Church.
#6.11 Stonewall on 2008-01-29 22:50
Well said. The only thing I would consider though is the fact that I'm fairly convinced Bishop Nikon is not ultimately responsible for the motivation behind his action. He is one of the few good men (and I emphasize "men" because there are very few of those on this synod) among the den of thieves and perverts.
It is my understanding that it is what could be considered a synod policy now of how to handle such situations. He must report it to Syosset and must take immediate action. And if he doesn't follow this new "procedure" demanded by Herman, then they will turn on him too. He seems to be trying his best, however, to ease the harshness by inviting them to re-visit their decision. I am sure Herman's way would be to pull the priest from the parish until he get's the cash.
Let's give Bishop Nikon a chance to show his own character in how he interacts with the people at the parish. But Vladyka Nikon, please don't let us down! We are all watching now.
#6.11.1 Anonymous on 2008-01-30 11:51
No, Herman hasn't touched the parishes that have withheld in his diocese. In a thread from late last year, he was running behind about $97K the great bulk of that from the 3rd and 4th quarter.
Maybe Larry Tosi can enlighten us with the numbers from the diocese of NY/NJ/DC.
#18.104.22.168 Anonymous on 2008-01-30 15:26
I'm curious. Most, maybe all, S&P 500 companies have their quarter and year financials reported mid to late January. Why does it take the OCA with the modest magnitude of the money it deals with, two full months to get out a report? We have heard that software and processes are much improved but it takes longer to see financial reports than for GM.
And, you say, the financials “should” be on the site by March 1st. Can we say they WILL be out by March 1st or is that just a target date? Sticking to that date, or being early, would be a step on your part to creating a trusting and open environment that would help how the faithful views the central administration.
Lastly, charitable organizations I am a member of and donate to send me an end of year report which gives a break down of the financials and gives us a summary of what has been accomplished during the year. I would expect, and in fact, pray and hope, that that kind of reporting becomes standard here too. It could even be contained in an expanded edition of the magazine that's sent out. In any event, in the spirit of transparency, and to show that nothing is being hidden, I would think that sending out a report would be a positive step forward. You can even stick an envelope in there for a donation!
#6.12 Anonymous on 2008-01-30 10:26
The delay is due to the fact that the report has to first go to Herman for review and "editing". You can't release a report without that most important step! What if there were something in there he doesn't want us to see?
#6.12.1 Anonymous on 2008-01-30 11:38
In an organization as small as the OCA, even if you use low heat, does it take THAT long to cook the books?
#22.214.171.124 Anonymous on 2008-01-30 15:21
Father Michael, I believe that you are an honest man, and I thank you for your work in attempting to clean up the finances of the OCA. Sadly, the financial corruption is only one piece of the problem, and it is, perhaps, the piece that is most easily fixed. I don't doubt that the safeguards that have been put in place will make it more difficult for thieves to break in and steal, but I have to say, Father, that financial fixes do nothing to address the rot that festers in the diocese of Alaska, which is, for me at least, THE real problem facing the OCA. As long as rogue bishops can abuse the faithful and terrorize the clergy with the tacit approval of the Holy Synod, (excepting the honorable Abp. Job) the OCA gets not one dime from me. I cannot in good conscience support an organization that countenances the evil actions of the bishop of Alaska. Frankly, I don't really give a damn about the money anymore; the OCA isn't the first church to be assaulted by thieves in authority, and it won't be the last. As U2's Bono famously said, "The God I worship ain't short of cash, mister." I care deeply, though, about bully boys in pretty vestments exercising unchecked and unaccountable and abusive power over the faithful in the very nursery of Orthodoxy in North America. That wretched business continues until the so-called Holy Synod decides to act like men and Christians and puts a stop to it. I'm not holding my breath on that one. Until that happens, the OCA will have to struggle along without my money. Bishop Nikon saddling up and riding to Ansonia to get their minds right is sadly indicative of the real priorities of the so-called Holy Synod: let the faithful in Alaska suffer under their loon of a bishop, and even turn like a pack of jackals upon the one man among them who behaves as if cares about those faithful, but for God's sake keep the money coming in! Disgusting.
#6.13 Scott Walker on 2008-01-30 10:31
You may have every good intention, but the man who signs your check has no credibility. Lie after lie has been told by your predecessor. The special commission is just another group sponsored by Herman. No one wants to hear the same old story, sorry! We know you want to protect your future and your salary, but no one will believe anything that comes from Syosset as long as Herman is at the helm. Fact!
#6.14 MP on 2008-01-31 09:00
As an active participant in these forums since inception, and a CPA, I have an appreciation for what you are going through both personally and professionally. I do see enormous progress in how monies are handled and how the system of internal control is being implemented. For that you have my support and respect.
Unfortunately, the areas in which most people have concerns are no longer financial - they are much deeper issues of trust. Such trust issues are not resolved by silence. You've told us more in your several paragraphs than the metropolitan has in two years.
There is this aspect of the scandal that is troubling. We're in the mode of preventing "it" from happening again, and doing a credible job at that task. However we're not told what "it" actually was. Sort of a "cart-before-the-horse" scenario in my mind.
I would encourage you to use your influence to craft the upcoming AAC to have a twofold purpose: First, to be a "truth and reconciliation" council, because we cannot put this behind us until the truth is proclaimed. Second, to discuss the role of a "Central Church Authority". I'm bothered that we don't even have a name for such a function - which indicates to me the role is unique and undefined.
What does Syosset need to become? Is our governance that of diocesan bishops reporting to a primate, or a federation of diocesan bishops who have a "chairman" called Metropolitan? What functions are necessary for the Church, and which of those functions are necessary to be centralized?
Thank you for your transparency, and thanks for your help.
Martin D. Watt, CPA
#6.15 Marty Watt on 2008-02-01 11:36
corruption. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Retrieved January 28, 2008, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/corruption
the act of corrupting or state of being corrupt.
2. moral perversion; depravity.
3. perversion of integrity.
4. corrupt or dishonest proceedings.
6. debasement or alteration, as of language or a text.
7. a debased form of a word.
8. putrefactive decay; rottenness.
9. any corrupting influence or agency.
maggots. (n.d.). The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Retrieved January 28, 2008, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/maggots
The legless, soft-bodied, wormlike larva of any of various flies of the order Diptera, often found in decaying matter.
Slang A despicable person.
An extravagant notion; a whim.
Gee, all of the above sounds like what has happened with much of our OCA administration, if not our HS!
As have others said:
"You know them by their fruits." Hmmm. I guess we know of the OCA's lack of expediency, particularly the HS, in correcting the OCA's internal problems as being the fruits of "putrefactive decay; rottenness." Does not this make the OCA' leadership full of maggots?
Have you ever bit into a rotten piece of fruit and wrinkled up your nose in disgust and sourly exclaimed "YUUKKKK!!" The beautiful red apple on the outside was a different story on the inside!!
Ordaining sex offenders? Withholding critical financial information and reports from the public? Not having a total change of command and sense of transparency? "YUUUKKKK!!"
#7 Patty Schellbach on 2008-01-28 18:02
Right on Ansonia!!!
The people of New England can certainly "revisit"
their relationship to the man who is a bishop.
Yes, just when I get ready to give up in despair for the future of our Church something like the courage and integrity of Three Saints of Ansonia comes forth.
Yes, God Bless you all.
#9 John Bennett on 2008-01-28 19:28
It seems that even Bp. Nikon will tolerate, overlook, and say nothing about all kinds of sin, especially the sins of bishops, but he immediately reacts to the horrible sin of withholding the taxes. I wonder how quickly he reacted after being called by Herman... Is even he more concerned about the wrath of Herman than about getting to the truth? It would seem so.
And some question why many priests don't what to post using their name? Having already been on the receiving end of the wrath of Syosset, I certainly understand it!
#10 Another anon priest on 2008-01-28 21:30
Just a few umm... questions or clarifications...
Is a reader ordained or tonsured. What's the difference? Is this same 'tonsure' just like a monastic tonsure where no sacramental "rights" are given but rather a specific dedication recognized? Would the outrage exist if he took monastic vows?
I'm just curious but happy that I'll never have to kiss his hand, give him my confession, have him bless my house, marry my children, bury me, or have to answer for his position.
The hierarchs made this bed, they can sleep in it... no pun intended.
#11 Macarius on 2008-01-28 22:05
Readers are tonsured, ordained and set-aside. The ordination is not the same as that of a deacon, priest or bishop - it is not a mystery and is not done in the Divine Liturgy. The tonsure is the "mark" of an Orthodox clergyman. In English, we usually refer to "tonsuring" readers, but this word isn't used in other languages, in those languages, it is just "ordain".
Monastics are also tonsured (as are the newly baptized). There is nothing in the canons to prevent someone with this guy's past from becoming a monk, as long as he repents. Remember, moastics are not clergymen. Those who have sex outside of marriage are forbidden from the clergy.
#11.1 Anon. Reader on 2008-01-29 15:43
Master Bless !
With all the love and respect I have for you and our church, I am asking you to call a special meeting of the Synod in February as quickly as the meeting that you called in Ansonia,CT to discuss with the Synod but one topic....."the ramifications" of the actions of allowing the tonsuring of a sex offender. There are things more important than money.
Fr. Wojcik at the very beginning of our "long defeat" was correct when he said and I am paraphrasing now.....Years ago we had very little but we had our integrity.......
For the "good of the church"....do the right thing. Do not be silent.
I must remain anonymous for now.......
#12 Anonymous on 2008-01-29 05:39
Bishop Nikon points out that the action of the Three Saints Church at Ansonia “indicate mistrust of our diocesan council”. How can they trust the diocesan council after what happened at the diocesan assembly meeting in 2007, where out of ordering, confusion, and fear were the only thing that was demonstrated. Enough discussions, if our hierarchs are silent or being silenced then it is time for every OCA parish to take effective action.
Thank you to the parish members of the Three Saints Church at Ansonia, CT. Your unanimous action will set a good example to many churches, specially in new England. I hope you stay unanimous and hold the line in spite of the “ramifications” that Bishop Nikon is bringing to the table. Have no fear.
Holy Annunciation Church
#13 michel Michail on 2008-01-29 13:44
the salaries of Fr. Michael, Fr. Andrew and the co-star of the Tikhvin epic are being paid from a two million dollar loan at an East Pa. bank (borrowed money, borrowed time) which the HS/+MH wish the laity to repay with our good, clean and very hard-earned money.........our parish priests have been reduced to the status of feeble Publicans, whose sole function is to give money to Syosset.........the remedy must be clear, even to this trio.......
#13.1 Guileless on 2008-01-29 18:57
You are in error. There was a $1.7M loan and the principal has been paid down by approximately one-third by now. Its proceeds did not go to salaries but to restore funds misapplied by the previous administration. Current salaries are being paid by the assessments from the various supporting dioceses.
I urge you to read the current financial statements posted at the OCA website, as well as the forthcoming one for 2007 to which Fr Michael Tassos refers.
Your Metropolitan Council delegates could supply this information to you, as well, should you care to ask.
Fr John M. Reeves
#13.1.1 Fr John Reeves on 2008-01-29 21:39
Can you, or anyone else, please tell us what the status is of the remaining 9/11 funds that were replenished from that loan?
#126.96.36.199 Anonymous on 2008-01-30 12:07
As has been reported on the OCA website, the $90K from the loan to replace 9/11 funds was donated to NYDIS--an interfaith agency which helps victims of the 9/11 tragedy who have exhausted all other means of aid, their status having previously been assessed by a social worker. These monies were transfered in August 2007.
Each individual helped by NYDIS from these funds has been documented and reported to OCA, down to the penney. As of this date, all of these funds (the $90K) have now been depleted.
HOWEVER, there remain approximately $176K yet to be distributed which the loan did not cover.
Fr John Reeves
#188.8.131.52.1 Fr John Reeves on 2008-01-31 10:30
You stated that “there remain approximately $176K yet to be distributed (to the 9/11) which the loan did not cover.”
Is this debt to be paid for by our re-donating the money? Or will we be able to recover the funds by civil action suing those responsible for its disappearance? Or to give the Devil what it’s due, do we forever let it lay where it has gone?
#184.108.40.206.1.1 Anon on 2008-02-02 14:51
Not to pay it, somehow, could/would/should incur legal penalties. The MC will have to decide how. We haven't let this drop and won't.
#220.127.116.11.1.1.1 Fr John Reeves on 2008-02-03 18:21
Actually, since money is fungible, it actually can't be said that money from this source or that source was used to cover pilfered ("misapplied") funds any more than that money from another source is paying salaries.
True, had there been no loan, then either coverage of grafted funds might not have occurred, or salaries might not have been paid, or both might have occurred but to lesser extents. Fact is, money came in and made both possible. However ...
... that still doesn't mean the loan was proper. It was not proper; it was approved by a process that included perjury by an officer of the OCA swearing under oath as to a grossly distorted membership figure of the OCA in oder to induce a NY court to approve the loan request. It matters not whether the money has been put to "good" use -- it was obtained fraudulently.
#18.104.22.168 Anonymous on 2008-01-30 13:19
On January 28, 2008, an article was posted on the OCA website commemorating the death of Bishop Jose Cortes y Olmos, the OCA’s first Mexican Exarch. In the early 1990s, I conducted extensive research in this area and produced a paper for the faculty of St. Vladimir’s Seminary as partial fulfillment toward the master of theology degree. The recent article makes minor attempts at incorporating my research but, in substance, disregards responsible historiography
Since a claim no longer can be made that Bishop Jose once was a Jesuit, the account now reads that he “[completed] his middle and seminary education in Jesuit schools.” “Jesuit,” along with terms that appear later are presented to lend legitimacy rather than to report documented facts. In all likelihood, Bishop Jose never received a seminary education, let alone a doctorate in Roman canon law. His ordination and that of the clergy who surrounded him was, at best, canonically questionable. Their claim to being part of a so-called “Old Catholic Church” was bound up in a highly complex ecclesiastical underground having nothing to do with Mexican independence from Spain. In most instances there was no “church” to which “bishops/patriarchs” and “priests” were ordained. These titles existed as emblems of a distorted sense of Church. Mexican liberals, however, manipulated such clergy to their advantage so as to undermine the authority of Roman Catholic bishops. The hostility and resentment, therefore, that Roman Catholic clergy bore toward Bishop Jose and his clergy partly was due to this dynamic. In the eyes of Roman Catholic hierarchs, Bishop Jose and other clergy like him were a threat to Christian faith and to good Church order.
By the grace of God, Bishop Jose and other clergy in circumstances similar to his own experienced a conversion that led them to Orthodoxy. It stands to reason that the Roman Catholic laity to whom they had offered leadership followed them on this path.
The information I bring forward intends to point out God’s wondrous grace rather than to besmirch the memory of a deceased hierarch. The menaion is filled with saints who exemplify conversion. Part of what it means to glory in the cross is to acknowledge personal and corporate shortcomings as witness to the fact that we are but earthen vessels—unworthy servants commissioned to bear a great message through our words and deeds. In the end, God’s glory is revealed, sometimes despite ourselves and our best efforts.
Deacon Ramon J. Gonzalez, O.P.
#14 Deacon Ramon Gonzales O.P. on 2008-01-29 15:25
Dear Fr. Michael Tassos,
I hope by this quick posting you might have a better understanding of the issues that many of us have here in fly-over country. I don't believe that you are the problem neither do I believe that you can correct or were hired to work on the real problem. The real problem is yet to be addressed in serious manner.
I do not not seek or pray for the release of documents, or the resignation of one man. What the Church has been lacking and the thing that is needed most is for the Holy Synod to manifest the things of Christ. The Bishops need to act like the sheep are more important than the bottom line. Like truth matters. Like evil is still evil. Like repentance is more helpful for salvation than coverup. There is in the midst of this Synod an unwavering commitment to silence regarding matters of truth. They are equally dedicated to the covering up all sorts of immoral and criminal behavior of one another and their close circle of friends. Remember, by their fruits we will know them. They on many occasions look more like wolves than shepherds. The people and the priests are scared of them and do not trust many of them.
Yes, you were "hired" to "fix" the problem. The withholding is not aimed at you but at the problem. The lawlessness of the Synod of bishops cannot be corrected by better accounting.
I am sure that the lawlessness of the Synod was not personally aimed at me. Yet their actions and then inactions has affected both me and my parish in rather profound ways. The sad but true point of all of this is that the powers that be (on all sides) have worked very hard at defining the issues as only a financial problem. It is not! The moral rot, the lack of work in the inner formation of Christ, the care and gentleness towards the sheep, has again and again been neglected for a more worldly agenda.
The thing that you are working so very hard to correct is not the core or root problem. It is a Synod that is deficient in living the gospel, training in Godliness. It is failure that no longer allows much of the Synod to defend a claim that they are above reproach.
I am glad that you and your co-workers are getting control of the finances. Offer some concrete answers of what we do with the horrible shepherding that allows the synod to stand by and coverup the very public and well known transgressions/moral failures of the Episcopacy. The Church in America deserves better. Fr. Michael if we priests ran our parishes like some of the hierarchs are given to run their dioceses and their personal lives, we would rightly be put out of the priesthood. Some of these men "for the good of the Church" should live out their days as active members of a monastic community or as laymen. When that happens then maybe your work will matter and count for something.
Again, The issue is not money. Several of these men who are bishops give us little to emulate. Sadly, they are often examples of what not to do and what we should not be. You may by the grace of God get control of the flow of money but the puss will just drain out somewhere else. God bless you and your work but it in itself can only do so much. Until the Synod comes to repentance and takes seriously the job of shepherding souls and makes that the first priority then little will be accomplished in Syosset.
#15 anon priest on 2008-01-29 19:15
Thank you to the faithful of Three Saints in Ansonia for standing together to fight against this corruption. Unfortunately Bishop Nikon's response was depressing and discouraging. Instead of calling for a meeting with this parish there should be another meeting of the Synod to face the fact that the OCA will not be healed until the bishops are ready to give up self-protection, manipulation and abuse of authority. I fear that the meeting at Three Saints will be similar to what happened when Met. Herman visited St. Mark. His visit was nothing more than a facade, a tactic to delay and distract, full of excuses and evasive answers. The meeting was an affront to the people who took the time to care about the church and be present. Before Bishop Nikon meets with the people in Ansonia I hope he realizes that the faithful are growing weary of the carrot being dangled in front of us with false reassurances that things are progressing with a new administration, new practices, new plans for the ACC, new Investigative Committee, etc. I would like to implore Bishop Nikon to stop pretending that we still don't know what happened. We know plenty! We know that our leaders, past and present, were corrupt and caused the church to suffer immeasurable damage and the whole Synod allowed it to happen. All the new practices are USELESS until the faithful believe that our bishops are acting honorably. NOTHING will fix this until the Synod finally demands accountability, resignations and restitution from all involved (INCLUDING EACH OTHER). At this point in the crisis the bishops need to address the fact that more and more people are seeing them as a brotherhood of corrupt, perverted and immoral men doing everything in their power to save their own reputations and authority. Why should we pay for that?
#16 Ellen Barber on 2008-01-29 19:21
The withholding of assessments does not seem appropriate to me at this time for the following reasons and a way out with the Bishop at the end..
1. We have been made aware of an undefended claim that a past Chancellor of the OCA mishandled or stole over a million dollars which is a heckuva report, but they want more. There is needed more comprehensive reporting, but it is planned.
2. Two of our hierarchs have accepted responsibility and explained their errors in the matter, including overtrusting the Chancellor and trying to cover for them a bit even.
3. The reasons for withholding are somewhat ambiguous and do not provide a timeline for performance.
4. Performance of reporting must be done well in advance of the 2008 AAC, or the AAC should be cancelled, which means some reporting should/will happen within the next six months. This means at least on one of their complaints, a resolution is expect in six months by most of us, so why withhold when this is expected anyway?
5. If this church group wants to help the OCA through a small, but influential action, here is what I would suggest. Suspend your withholdings until June 15 if there is no report from the second and politically inferior SIC. This would be proactive, support a successful AAC, and give Bishop Benjamin and the second and politically inferior SIC a fair opportunity for performance. State clearly your expectation (demand) for performance. For example, a full reporting of the last 7 years compilations reports. If unmet, withhold until met.
Frankly, I think the Synod could avoid this if they set the standard for the 2nd SIC and set the bar, so I agree with many of you in stating the obvious that the Bishop should be getting with the Synod and not the parish.
Furthermore, the Synod, in its infinite weakness in money matters, really should collectively agree on whether we are in Syosset or not long term and try to put together a debt service plan.
If 27000 people each gave 10 bucks a year to the debt plan, maybe we could all help turn the ship around.
One person did the damage which was afforded by others trusting in him, but we cannot allow this to develop into a complete and total mistrust of the cca.
Just my two cents worth, and not yet my 10 bucks.
It'll be a great thing to see the 2007 financials in March Fr. Tassos.
We should all thank the Metropolitan for getting Fr. Tassos on board. I'm sure I'll get heat and corrections for this one, but truly, the Metropolitan has done some good things to counter many bad decisions he has made. At worst, he has continued to prove out one of our disagreements with the Western church (on imfallibility).. (said with a lighthearted chuckle)
#17 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-01-29 22:30
I wish to comment that although Father Bob Kondratick may be the brunt and focus of the scandal that Metropolitan Theodosius, as he sits comfortably in his home safe and secure, should be held equally accountable for this grevious sin against the Church, and against the trusting faithful of the OCA. Everyone continues to point at Father Bob but no one has called for an equal investigation into MT's guilt. He took full advantage of his position to channel money into his own pockets, for his own desires and passions. What in the world does any bishop need with two million dollars ??? - and that is just from the years in question. Who knows how much else could have come his way from various other sources. A monastic millionaire ??? How can he live in such fashion when there are old people on pensions who struggle financially, piously giving to support his immoral lifestyle ?
MT funneled millions into his own slush fund, and has never even offered a word of repentace or a dollar. His tenure as the chief hierarch and leader of the Orthodox Church in America appears to be the blackest and most corrupt. He was there at the beginning and the end; it most joyous day and its saddest. Why are there no cries to bring him before his peers, to depose him of his hierarchal rank. This is no noble legacy which he has left the OCA.
Until the FULL disclosure of these vile deeds, until the faithful of the OCA have FULL knowledge of these deeds there will be no peace and this plague will continue to kill off what good remains of the dream to unite all Orthodox in America - certainly, it will not come about through the likes of these bishops in whom we are to place our spiritual trust and hearts.
The OCA has too many committees, too many administrative people, too many rules, statutes and regulations --- for what ? 50,000 people at best ? It is top heavy in far-flung, high minded programs and does not hear the voice of the faithful who are to continue, blindly, to give their pense and ask nothing.
God forgive us all for our blind trust and for not opening our mouths sooner. Those of the metropolitan council and the Syyoset administration should beware - it is time to clean house and begin anew. Sooner or later some television show is going to catch wind of this horrible mess, or even worse the IRS. Is that what is needed to finally see an end to this ?
More strength to the people in Ansonia, and any other parish to follow their lead. If Syosset only understands dollars and cents then that is what it will seen soon enough in its coffers.
#17.1 ANONYMOUS on 2008-01-31 14:22
Hasten the day when all our parishes cut off their money to the Central Church Administration rather than fund thieves and perverts! And hasten the day when the intransigent, obstinate and deluded -Herman still grasps so tightly to his office and title, that has to go out and find a job to keep him in the lifestyle to which he has grown accustomed.
God bless the folks in Ansonia, CT and their courageous priest! Many years to one and all!
#18 Felix Culpa on 2008-01-29 22:55
This what we need at the AAC:
Jan 30, 1798, The first brawl in the U.S. House of Representatives was witnessed by legislators. Congressmen Matthew Lyon and Roger Griswold fought on the House floor.
#19 Anonymous on 2008-01-30 06:42
All out chaos for 5 days would be as big a sin as the theft of thousands.
Chaos can in fact be helpful, but a fist throwing brawl is probably not in my hopes.
Think again sailor.
#19.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-01-30 11:27
Mobs can be useful.
Take St. John Chrysostom, for example. He was a relentless truth-teller, who, unlike our present Synod of Bishops, ruthlessly condemned the filthy, depraved behavior of high-ranking individuals, focusing his attention on the Byzantine Imperial court (and none other than Empress Eudoxia herself). This was politically an unwise move, and earned St. John exile to a remote corner of the empire, while his episcopal office was filled by a much more pliable candidate from Alexandria (and there is never any shortage of pliable candidates for the episcopate, ladies and gentlemen).
To the ever-lasting credit of the Orthodox people, they did not put up with that crap. They took to the streets and rioted, demanding the return of their Archbishop. They challenged their "betters," and the depraved powers-that-be were forced to eat humble pie and allow St. John Chrysostom's restoration -- at least for awhile.
Eventually, St. John was exiled again, because, he was too good to keep his mouth shut, and, unfortunately, Satan rules this world. On the upside, though, Empress Eudoxia died soon afterward, and the imperial family was disgraced. We have all heard of St. John Chrysostom. Who had ever heard of Augusta Eudoxia?
#19.1.1 Greg Denysenko on 2008-01-30 15:34
We're not going to have a brawl. That's because Nikon (what a coincidence) is going to involve that Canadian conflict resolution expert, with that massive 12 years of experience, so that we can all discuss our differences with all civility and come out to agree wtih the powers that be. Has no one remembered THAT Gem coming from this bunch?
Hey, Father Michael, tell us, in all honesty, how much did we pay to get that guy in to talk to us? How much did the Church pay for his time, and maybe his travel, because the powers that be don't want to use Christ as our mediator, but some conflict resolution expert with 12 years of experience in secular organizatons. In all seriousness, how much did that cost us? Will that appear on the report hopefully to be out around March 1st? In the spirit of openness that you are working so hard for, tell us, how much did that cost us?
#19.2 Anonymous on 2008-01-30 11:56
In my personal opinion, it would be wise for the us to bring in an expert and also to move as much of the chaos ahead of the AAC as possible.
While it is easy to hope we would all act like God's children, all of us are human and anyone who isn't passionate about the success of the OCA (perhaps defining it is paramount) ought not attend the AAC. So in all likelihood, a few experts need to be present.
The entire format of the AACs in the past (from heresay) has not been good enough to develop a community. There has been too much time spent on too little.
#19.2.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-01-30 16:48
Daniel, Daniel, Daniel!
Bring in an expert?! Then why have the sacrament of communion!? Seriously, if we cannot do what's right when we all share in the Body and Blood of Christ is there any hope? When THAT is not enough of a conflict resolution method, what else could POSSIBLY work?! Think about it. This drives to the CORE of the problems here! This isn't a secular organization. This is a Church that was sent on its mission by Christ himself. A Church where we partake of his Body and Blood - there is no greater thing to partake of, not greater thing to share... if you truly believe it. Therein lies the problem. Lack of belief, faithlessness. Its easy to say we believe, its hard to live our life in that belief. Bringing a conflict resolution “expert” to tell us how to handle internal divisions based on morals that have been turned on their head, while in front of the icon of Christ Himself is absurd! It’s an affront to all we believe in. If we cannot resolve these problems in Christ and under HIS rules and methods then there is truly NO hope and we should all pack it in and call ourselves faithless failures!
The powers that be have done their best to try and put in half baked measures to take our attention away from the Commandments given to us by God. Hide what the problem REALLY is. We have best practices with pages codifying processes that we should be doing ANYWAY if we just believed – no one should have to tell us what the right thing is to do! We should KNOW what’s right and DO IT. And the Synod wants to abandon them. We want to bring in an expert, when the expert we should all be listening to and following is the same that the clergy hold in their hands at every liturgy! We bring in the qualified accountants and other professionals thinking that making the systems and numbers look good will solve our problem! That the professional accreditation of our officers is the solution! Baloney! Enough of this secularizing of the problem. Enough of thinking that we can get to the bottom of this and fix it by employing methods that mask what our core beliefs are because we’re so damn weak to follow what we SHOULD, follow what WILL correct this problem. Enough is enough! Look to Christ for our answers, not a conflict resolution “expert”, not best practices, not CPAs. Follow Jesus Christ, SOG (Son of God), No Mr. Secular, CPA! We have our best practices… Moses had them on two tablets, not 20 pages of legalese. Good Lord! Let’s get back to first principles and then apply THEM to the problems. Its amazing how everything else will fall into place when we do!
#22.214.171.124 Stonewall on 2008-02-01 07:30
You seem to be of the mind that following the Bible is the answer, but how quickly you have forgotten that the Bible tells us that men sin and that we have free will [to sin].
You quickly forget that our free will leads us, not Bishops, to purchase beer instead of giving to the poor. The going rate for 3 pints here in Saint Paul is 12 bucks, enough for 1.5 AAC assessments.
You quickly forget that 5 days of fighting at the cost of 204 grand is exceptionally sinful, and the planners are wise to recognize this issue.
The answer to all of this isn't just that Metropolitan Herman goes. Many of us are not fans of other Bishops. Our church auditors don't know how to do an audit. In fact, those human failings and others allowed all of us to be duped.
You think an audit is desirably only a secular convention?
Here is a quote from the Washington Post, March 3, 2006.
"Financial experts said the Orthodox Church's problems show how easy it is for churches to avoid financial scrutiny. Other tax-exempt, nonprofit organizations must file annual financial statements, known as Form 990s, to the IRS. But churches do not have to make any public disclosure of how much they receive in donations, from whom, or how the money is spent."
Audits are only secular conventions because of the law, that doesn't mean its wise.
The OCA isn't the first church to find itself in a financial scandal. They are innumerable.
The Diocese of the Midwest has published an audit guideline dated January 23, 2008. I suppose this is bad in your view?
Sorry Stonewall, but regardless of our Bishops bad behavior(s) and the Chancellor that abused his power, if you are so shortsighted to believe that no other future administration would do the wrong thing with the money, then stop complaining, stop visiting the site for accountability, and just send Metropolitan Herman a Bible.
Sorry to be a bit harsh, but I absolutely refuse to post on the site for accountability and have someone refute accountability and believe because we are Christian we don't need it. In 1999, RSK made the argument that discretionary accounts weren't auditable because Christian priests and Bishops were above it. Do you agree with that?
Going a step further, a 5 day long argument costing 200 grand is enough to build a new church somewhere. I wonder what Christ would say on that one?
#126.96.36.199.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-02-01 22:10
Good post, Daniel.
"Financial experts said the Orthodox Church's problems show how easy it is for churches to avoid financial scrutiny. Other tax-exempt, nonprofit organizations must file annual financial statements, known as Form 990s, to the IRS. But churches do not have to make any public disclosure of how much they receive in donations, from whom, or how the money is spent."
My question is, how did Jim Baker end up in federal prison for wrongfully using monies entrusted to his care as a 'religious donation' earmarked for specific purposes?
Seems like some in positions of authority in the OCA have done exactly the same thing that Jim Baker did.
#188.8.131.52.1.1 Yanni on 2008-02-02 13:54
Jim Bakker was convicted of fraud for "overselling" memberships into what was determined to be a timeshare at his theme park.
One of the issues in his trial was if in fact the vacation hotel was part of the ministry of the Church. It was determined it was not.
Martin D. Watt, CPA
#184.108.40.206.1.1.1 Marty Watt on 2008-02-04 09:33
You stated that we all have free will and that is very true. However, being reasonable people, we don’t do those things that will land us in jail. Of course we all sin. But knowing our failings, God gave us directions on how to help us conquer that. It’s called the Bible and the Ten Commandments. To the hypocrites that control our church, those are the instructions on how to live the life that God gave you. They are the guide to accountability!!!
It is sad to think that we, as a church of God, need outside help to show us the way to honest, clean living! You mentioned that we should send +Herman a Bible and you are completely correct with that. Will that help? I don’t know because only God knows what is in his heart. He is a member of that very elitist group of men who belong to an exclusive club of hypocrites! He doesn’t want to follow the Bible and it’s instructions unless those instructions allow him to keep his secrets well hidden. When something comes out in the light, he tells everyone to pray for the church. If he isn’t following God in the Bible, who is he praying to?
I have heard constantly that the men in charge (Syosset and the Bishops) are being guided by the Holy Spirit. I would like Nicholai to explain the influence of the Holy Spirit in his decisions and actions in the past. I am not well versed in the Holy Spirit but I cannot think that the Holy Spirit would condone kissing the hand and bowing before a bishop when God’s own Son was not treated thus even by those who loved Him. Thou shalt not bow down before them............ comes to mind.
You said: Going a step further, a 5 day long argument costing 200 grand is enough to build a new church somewhere. I wonder what Christ would say on that one?
I would tremble to hear His words. None of us reading or writing about this evil will be happy to hear Him: those who know the truth and will rot with the knowledge in their tomb or those who write yet continue to fund and condone this behavior. I would tremble to hear His words and I think you, Daniel, will as well.
#220.127.116.11.1.2 Lizzie on 2008-02-02 15:35
We will soon be entering the season of Great Lent, our preparation for our celebration of the Lord's Resurrection at Pascha. On the first Sunday of Great Lent, the Sunday of Orthodoxy, many parishes will celebrate the Mission Vespers that evening. In numerous cases, this is the annual Orthodox "pep rally", complete with battle-of-the-choirs, and the "rah-rah" of hearing that "this is the Faith of the universe" (the only thinking lacking is a set of pom-poms for each of the deacons celebrating the service). While our liturgical services are Orthodox, our *lives*, *perspective*, and behavior in the Church is anything but!! We have been inundated with gag orders, declarations, and explanations of how the laity are lacking "faith" by not blindly "obeying" the directives of Syosset and going along with the "party line". Despite the pep-rally proclamations of the Sunday of Orthodoxy, what is clearly implied to us is that, despite teachings to the contrary, we have the reality of a spirit of infallibility concerning the hierarchy, a very Western and Roman Catholic doctrine, which is (at least officially) proclaimed as undogmatic by the Orthdox Church. We also seem to forget our own history, such as Maximus the Confessor, who, despite having his tongue cut out and his hand cut off, continued to be faithful to the teachings of the Church. This was in direct opposition to the ruling patriarchs of the time, who, a century later, were post-humously anathematized by the Church, while Maximus was post-humously proclaimed as a saint. Food for thought, my brethren!!!
Also, I believe the faithful of the OCA are applying the same common sense to our national Church that they do locally. If a parish priest was caught absconding parish funds for personal use, and then, when caught, began issuing gag orders and threats while hiding the truth of his actions, how many parishes would then remain "faithful" (according to the recent proclaimations by Syosset) by continuing to pay his salary in the face of his refusal to address the problem????? Well, the parallel situation occurring on the national level brings about the same common-sense refusal to continue to feed the hand that bites us!!
#20 David Barrett on 2008-01-30 10:42
Thank you for your post. As others have noted, it seemed gracious and well-meant. And I do appreciate the hard work you're doing for the OCA.
Remember when you took science back in middle school, and you learned about necessary and sufficient causes? Heat, oxygen, and fuel are all necessary to create a fire, but none of them are sufficient. In fact, any combination of two is not sufficient. You have to have all three. Remove any one of them, and the fire goes out.
The fire you're wanting here is trust. The work you're doing is absolutely necessary to restore trust -- without it, I don't think it would be possible to restore trust. But it's not sufficient.
If you want to re-light the fire of trust, here's what I think is needed:
First, it needs to be made absolutely clear that no more secrets are being kept, and no more secrets will be kept. A one page summary of a report doesn't assure us that there are no secrets. A full disclosure, with an opportunity to ask questions, and an assurance that all questions will be answered (unless it would involve breaking the seal of the confessional) -- that's what's necessary. Publish a full report of the PR investigation. Tell us everything they learned. In public, give everyone with knowledge about what has happened in our Church (Sidebottom, Wheeler, Silver, everyone) permission to say everything they no, with assurance that there will be no consequences imposed by the Church, but rather what they say will be listened to and responded to with respect. Tell us who contacted the FBI, and why -- you say they've been contacted about their investigation, and I've heard rumors about it, of course -- but what are they investigating? I don't want rumors. I want the leaders of my Church to tell me. If there was money laundering, if there was blackmail, if prostitutes were hired, if exorbitant gifts were given, I want to know. If none of that happened, I want a clear statement of that as well. Don't ignore it. Tell me. If no one ever says anything about the rumors, if our bishops don't address it, sadly, the only thing I can believe is that there must be some truth to it.
Once the information has been released -- there should be reams and reams of it, so online publication is probably the most expedient way to do it -- at the same time, every parish should get a letter from our bishop explaining the release, and telling us what to make of it. The letter should be read from the solea for three consecutive Sundays, to make sure everyone hears it.
And then, over the next several months, the bishops should visit every parish in their diocese, so that the people have the opportunity to ask questions and get answers face to face.
This is not voyeruism. It's not "democracy" or "presbyterianism." It's honesty, it's light, it's truth.
Finally, we need to see our bishops hold themselves and each other accountable for their actions. If they don't, then tell me, Father Michael, why should we give them back our trust?
Processes and procedures. Transparency. Accountability. Those are the three things necessary to relight the fire of trust. Your work alone won't do it. Our bishops have in their hands everything that's needed to restore trust. The rest of us are waiting to see what they do.
#21 Josephine on 2008-01-30 11:24
Ah! Someone who reads history! And to think that people call the current period the most contentious time in American politics! Ha! South Carolina seceded because Abraham Lincoln was elected President! Doubt those lengths will be seen again, but, I digress...
Why do we need a brawl? Alledgedly we all believe in the same thing: God and his commandments. We're not politicians on two sides of an issue. The only reason that we can have a brawl is if one side doesn't believe... hey, wait a minute... maybe it IS possible!
#22 Anonymous on 2008-01-30 11:51
I applaud all parishes that will withhold assessments until satisfactory answers are given by Met h. We need the full truth now so parishes can then move forward and do Christ's work as it was intended to be done.
Until the truth is known nothing in the church can move forward in a proper manner.
Please I emplore the leaders of the church to come forward and speak only the truth. The good people of the church deserve only the whole and complete truth. Most of them are very good people who have supported the church for many a year of their live. They deserve only the best from their leaders. Why is it so hard to tell the truth and make ammends for the past wrong doings. In confession they expect us to be truthfull. They should follow the words in the bible and their sermons.
PS Please if you respond to my remarks do it with your name.
#23 John Macenka on 2008-01-30 14:13
Regarding the withholding by the Holy Trinity Church in Clayton:
I am disappointed that Archbishop Job released Dec. assessments without previously consulting with or at least informing his diocese. It predictably resulted in a unilateral decision of a parish to withhold funds. More will probably follow. Sadly, they may not be effective unless the diocese acts in unity again. While setting benchmarks, such as the ones by the Holy Trinity parishioners, may have been reasonable in the past, I do not think it is any longer productive.
Our Church leader is the person who told his Chancellor to cook the books because nobody was going to check or know the difference. Then he stated that his only fault was overtrusting the former Chancellor. How does anyone expect “heartfelt and forthright answers” from him?
Withholding the money may ultimately convince +Herman to apologize… So would a gun to his head. Why would anyone be interested in such an ‘apology’?
Getting the central administration to pay attention to the faithful has been like pulling teeth. The only times when the Synod members react like-mindedly is when the money flow gets disrupted. Pathetic.
At this point in time setting more benchmarks and withholding, then setting more benchmarks and withholding again is becoming an exercise in futility. It is not about achieving a meeting of minds, it is more like a wrestling match. And it is not dignifying for either side in this conflict. The only benchmarks that need to be established now is the Primate’s resignation and a real inquiry into the lunacy in Alaska.
#24 Karina Ross on 2008-01-30 16:55
George, Thomas, Abraham, Alexander, Andrew, Benjamin. These are the men who hold great influence over our esteemed Synod of bishops. These are the men who’s images our bishops bow down to and honor. Unfortunately, I’m not talking about some of the greatest saints whom we venerate, but rather I’m talking about men who are better known by their last names: Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Hamilton, Jackson, and Franklin and who’s portraits adorn our paper currency. Like a well ingrained Pavlovian reaction, when money speaks, the ears of the bishops perk up. Speak to them in verse, repeat to them what they say in their sermons, give heartfelt reflections of the pain this scandal is causing and you see nothing but their backsides whether of their hands as they wave you away like a fly while they cursory read your words or their backsides as they walk away after denying you the voice to your concerns. However, speak in terms of one of the men mentioned above and the bishop finds the time and the concern to address your concerns when you want and on your ground. We started this scandal with financial revelations and now we, yet again, are given an incident when it’s the money, stupid!
Sadly this is not the first time we have seen this material, shallow behavior of our bishops turning away from all that God is to all they can amass in monetary wealth. Close your eyes and visualize the image they give you when they make an appearance at your church or some great event: a man in flowing black robes, a long veiled hat, highly ornate vestments costing thousands that some may not wear twice in public, they carry a stick, and walk slower than a snail to give you the appearance of a man pained by his sacrifice and constant prayer, people lining up to bow and kiss his hand because he’s a great and holy man. It’s a nice, pious image, but its just that, its an image, because when the rubber meets the road, it’s the money, stupid.
Your spiritual well being, well, that’s a function of your giving. Your standing in the eyes of the bishops, well, that’s a function of your giving. You have a problem and you’re a good donor, you might get to sit with them at coffee hour as they patiently listen to what you say while in their minds they’re already spending the money that is the tribute your parish will give and how he is going to use that. Hopefully you won’t ask a question during the time you speak because you would put him into a difficult situation because he’s really not listening to what you’re saying, he’s thinking about the money. It’s the money, stupid! He tucks it away under his robe and then scurries away having done what he needs to do to put another buck in his pocket. Think about it, the reality closely matches this description. Oh, you have a problem, you say? You have a concern over the scandal? Well, we have no time to talk about it, or this isn’t the place to talk about it, you know, I’m just too tired from all my constant prayer to give time to discuss that now, so we’ll adjourn – I need to walk away with a stick because of all I do in my life so you may gain salvation. But, you know salvation doesn’t come free, and neither does their concern. But, you tell him you’re going to stop your assessments to the Church and his ears perk up like a dog at an inaudible sound that no one but it can hear. This is what our bishops have reduced themselves to.
Its sad, but as they say, money is the root of all evil, and make no mistake, its very much the root of the evil in this Church.
#25 Stonewall on 2008-01-30 18:05
Well, the love of money is the root of all evil, anyway ... which applies all the more to the liars.
#25.1 Anonymous on 2008-01-31 16:52
#25.2 Anon on 2008-01-31 17:39
What is to stop another corrupt couple of guys in 200 years to do it again Stonewall?
#25.3 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-02-03 00:53
I'm not Stonewall but I would hope (and pray) that in 200 years, people will have learned how to take care of corruption a lot more efficient and justly than we are doing here today!
#25.3.1 Anony on 2008-02-04 18:20
May God bless the parishioners of Three Saints Church in Ansonia, CT. Tim 4:6-8 tells us: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith”
Do not be swayed by cunning speech.
“I say this in order that no one may delude you with beguiling speech. For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ.” (Col 2:4-5)
Also a note to Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Clayton WI. In their letter they say: “....As we are now in receipt of a bill for the forthcoming All-American Council (AAC), we are calling out for light to be shed on what it is we are being asked to support.”
Can anyone explain to me why they (Syosset) need to tax each and every member of the OCA for this event? When I think of it, the FROC holds an excellent event each year and they seem to do this without any assessment before the fact. They get rooms and comps from hotels and arrange areas for meetings and social events. No money before hand. Why is it they (Syosset) need so much before? I think if the census is about 25,000 people, that’s a lot of money!!!
Maybe we should insist that the bishops be sponsored completely by their specific diocese. The rooms, transportation, etc. After all, they should be beholden to their diocese, not Syosset!
#26 Lizzie on 2008-01-31 09:46
And the hotel bills for the last AAC in Canada weren't paid until the hotel sued, Or so I heard on the grapevine.
I'm really surprised in view of that, that any hotel or conference center would want us as patrons.
#26.1 Rdr. James Morgan on 2008-01-31 19:59
The truth is Lizzie, AACs only need funding every three years and the national church could escrow the funds or call for them. In theory, calling for the funds is better for the payers.
Be glad we weren't counting on them to escrow funds for us, or another 150 grand would be gone.
The special assessment ain't going away soon. Pick a new battle.
#26.2 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-01-31 21:45
Thank you for posing a very pertinent question. The All-American Council is supposed to be a regular event, one that the Central Church Administration should include in the budget for each triennium (the 3 years between All-American Councils). Perhaps Fr. Michael Tassos will bring enough fiscal knowledge and experience to the CCA that the AAC will become a line item in the triennial budget starting with the 2009 budget.
You also raise a second important question: why does the Central Church Administration fund the attendance of the hierarchs at the All-American Council? Isn't that more properly an expense of their dioceses? A hierarch is defined in terms of his diocese, not the national church. Even His Beatitude is defined as the Bishop of Washington and New York before he is given the title of Metropolitan of All America and Canada.
#26.3 Mark C. Phinney on 2008-02-01 05:49
Maybe Fr. Michael can tell us what else, outside of the generous stipends, goes into the hands of the bishops? How much do we spend on them at the AAC's? How much are spent on them on items that their diocese should be picking up? Are these part of the excess benefits that people have received? Speaking of which, can you define an excess benefit? A tanning salon maybe?
Come on, Fr. Michael, we know that you're lurking here, come out and tell us these things. Live the words you want us to beleive with the new administration.
#26.3.1 Anonymous on 2008-02-04 11:56
I admire the bravery of a man who sticks his head in the hornet's nest, although the hornets might be forgiven for questioning his motives.
Let me strike an ungracious note. Many of us have spent time away from our children working. For some of us it is to make up for money cheerfully given to churchmen who apparently put our hard-earned dollars in places we would rather not think about.
A plausible explanation for the scandal is emerging, it seems. The OCA was run by old queens who let winking hired help loot the place rather than risk exposure of their contemptible little secrets. When you say everyone and everything is being looked at, did you mean this? Are you prepared to come right out and say -- now -- something like this:
"I was troubled by those widespread and detailed rumors, as well, and that was one of the first areas we explored. We have interviewed numerous subjects, and thoroughly tracked financial records for any hint of blackmail or what we'll call 'partying.' We even employed polygraphy where those subjects consented. You'll be happy to know that we found absolutely no evidence that sexual impropriety was involved in any aspect of the scandal."
Or how about something like this:
"While we recognize earlier investigations focused on one individual, we now have evidence that financial misconduct went beyond that one person, up to and including the highest levels of the administration. This saddens us greatly, but we're determined that the faithful be provided with the full truth, no matter who it implicates. The OCA is bigger than any one man or group of men."
In other words, what do you have new for us, other than "we're trying really, really hard and no one appreciates us?"
What did you mean when you said you called the FBI about their investigation? That's an odd thing to hear. Is it some kind of telegraphed code, a warning perhaps? How does that go, exactly? "Hello, FBI, we just wanted to let you know we found, like, a ton of stuff on that one guy who did all the bad things all by himself when nobody had any way of knowing so we're all innocent. I mean, except for him." Or was it more like "Hi, hadn't heard from you in awhile and were just, you know, wondering if there were any indictments floating around out there yet."
Pandemonium (by this I mean Syosset) has nothing left in the credibility bank. Don't you understand that anything you say is going to get a big, fat, red "NSF" stamped on it and sent back to you, perhaps even ungraciously? This is because we have been lied to, stalled, condescended to, called devils and stolen from time after time. We are the OCA: orphaned, cheated and abused. Don't expect much from children raised in such an environment.
I'm sure your job is hard and thankless. So's mine. So are most people's jobs. Most of us can go home to those kids with an easy heart, though, because we believe we have shed a little light in the world, done something useful and honest. I'm glad I don't have to continue to prop up Pandemonium, to be the smiling face and hurt voice of a regime that has lived with the stench of its own putrefaction so long it thinks its perfume and wonders why everyone else wrinkles their nose. I just represent perverts and thieves. You can see our jobs, therefore, are completely different. But my representation is in a fully-lit arena, where the prosecution and the defense have all the cards right out on the table, and we are prohibited from lying, hiding, or cheating or we get our license to practice law yanked. (Maybe even go to jail: remember the Duke Lacrosse prosecutor who played fast and loose with the facts.) It is an adversary system whose goal is the truth, not... not whatever games you're playing with souls in Pandemonium.
If you are not burning for the truth, aching to ease the misery of the faithful, weeping over the filth-spattered face of your church every day while tittering bishops throw tea parties for themselves in the New Jersey Museum of Ethnic Religion and 24-Hour Adult Video Arcade, you are at risk of becoming a collaborator, a Quisling, an accessory after the fact.
I am sure you are doing your job the best you can, according to your lights, but please don't go out of your way to defend your corrupt bosses, and complain that you're not appreciated. I think this was an error, although your job must be terribly frustrating. I also wonder, however, if someone might have given you a gentle shove in our direction. "You're a nice guy, people seem to like you. Why don't you go out on the balcony and warm up the crowd for Leader Ceauşescu!" If so, you ought to ask for a raise.
The entire weight of church propaganda is behind the official version: RSK did it, and while maybe we could have kept a closer eye on him, who knew? You and I both know there is not going to be a report that will be permitted to contradict that. There is no long-term plan to answer all the questions, to shed light into all the filthy little corners. As someone said, "it would destroy the church." Better the church be smothered in the dark by perfumed princes, rather than live to bear witness to their crimes.
I am not very polite here. Politeness is the last virtue of the post-Christian West because truth cannot be borne. Free speech is the one thing queens, commissars, cowards and thieves fear the most. Little mousey lies are fed by those in power because they quietly eat away at something they have never been able to stop: free speech. Become polite enough and you take free speech away from yourself. But being careful not to say the wrong thing is the virtue of slaves, children of abusive parents and -- apparently -- members of the OCA. It is no virtue at all, but a self-preservation technique of the powerless and pitiful.
That's why they try to silence us here. Read the different ways posters subtly put-down dissenters here, usually a variation on a theme of ignorance or ill will.
The demand for politeness is a knife to the throat of free speech. If we are truly free men and women of the midwest -- and elsewhere -- we have to give ourselves permission to speak our minds. We should learn new words, like "catamite," and make it rhyme with other words. Combine old words in new, fun ways: "blackmail" and "gay" until someone gives us answers. People are worried that the AAC might not be pleasant. I say let it be a fiasco. Anything but another round of roll-over-for-the-bishops.
Those parishes who have withheld, good for you! You have guts. Don't be lulled. When you get real answers, real change, trusted leadership, then they get their money.
So excuse me, but you have something of mine. The truth about my church. When you give it back you can expect appreciation. Heck, you'd be a hero. Until then, we can all be sad.
#27 Timothy Capps, Esq. on 2008-01-31 13:39
EXACTLY! Well stated Mr. Capps.
#27.1 Anonymous on 2008-01-31 16:45
What Tim said.
I'm with him.
#27.2 Kevin Nikolai Payne on 2008-02-01 12:01
Wow ... and all the more powerful for being spoken openly in his own name.
#27.3 Edmund Unneland on 2008-02-01 13:23
Dear Mr. Capps.
What you stated in your comments is so well done and so true. I say a big BRAVO to you.
So many of us have know for years what was going on with the Bishops and some priest of OCA.
You called it as it really is. I know in talking to people of OCA parishes that they are finally getting to know what really goes on within the closed ranks of some of the clergy. And they are not pleased with the goings on.
At least in other demonations the priest and bishops stand up and admit to their sexual preference.
In OCA the hide it and preach against it but practice it.
#27.4 John Macenka on 2008-02-01 19:49
I too, thank Fr. Michael for making a go of it at Syosset and tying to right this sinking ship. I believe his efforts will go a long way.
But, as you said, we want the truth BACK to us. The SIC just met, apparently. It will be sad until the faithful can trust again.
#28 Patty Schellbach on 2008-01-31 17:51
Well, at least the Episcopalians were honest. They have problems with having a gay bishop who says he is such.
Here we have some hierarchs who are outed by others, who won't say much about what or who they are. Just out yourselves, guys, we won't burn you at the stake! Just probably politely request that you depose yourselves. Orthodoxy is SO polite....
#29 James Morgan on 2008-01-31 20:12
Can someone who has knowledge, please inform us what a quarter of a million dollars (the amount of the AAC assessments = $8 x approx 30,000 ) will be used for in conjunction with the AAC? What are the upfront expenses? What are the expenses associated with what people have said is a simplified AAC? Is this for a down payment on Herman’s Presidential suite? Yes, we’re talking a QUARTER MILLON DOLLARS in their hands is what they are expecting from this assessment. This is a lot of money for people of this repute! Do you trust them with another QUARTER MILLION DOLLARS on the PROMISE of them using it for the AAC? Is a QUARTER MILLION DOLLARS going to burn a whole in Herman's pockets? I just don't think we can trust them especially when there's no justification of how it will be used.
Unless, at least, we get a breakdown of how that QUARTER MILLION DOLLARS will be used and how they came to the $8 figure I don't think that a penny should be forwarded to them for this. The Florida AAC asked for a $6 assessment and it was an elaborate affair. This time they want $8 on something that people are saying will be toned down. Somehow the assessment doesn't match with what they have said. Let's see how they got to that figure. Until then, not a penny! NOT A SINGLE PENNY! They just can’t be trusted, period.
#30 Anonymous on 2008-02-01 11:52
Don't get yourself so riled up; there are certain fixed expenses that dont vary, no matter how un-fancy the event: 6 meals probably, meeting rooms, etc. Have you ever eaten a meal at a big hotel? I can imagine that a good portion has to be paid up front. But your point about an accounting of the event is well taken; there has to be one this time around.
#30.1 Michael Strelka on 2008-02-02 08:46
Last time I ate a meal at a big hotel, and I've done it a lot, I paid for it myself... I'd be interested to hear from Fr. Michael if there are limits to what the Church will pay for meals, airline tickets, and hotels when traveling on Church business? Anyone who works in a big corporation knows there are limits that keep expenditures within in. That gives people the motivation to avoid having a feast each meal at a large hotel.
Where is the charity towards the Church? The Metropolitan is pulling in over $150K a year, MINIMUM, if you take into account the salary, housing, stipends, diocesan salary, and who knows what else. We don't know what he piles up from any investments he has on our misappropriated money. He has to have the decency and charity towards the church to pay for his own meals. You see what I mean? But then again, decency and Herman in the same sentence goes against all proper rules of English.
If he, and the administration, cared about cutting costs and bringing this organization back to viability, wouldn't there be a feeling of keeping costs to minimum. Or is keeping costs to a minimum just apply to defending against the Kondratick suit which means nothing less than hiring legal counsel to settle without this going to court? That's what they basically told us.
#30.1.1 Anonymous on 2008-02-02 09:23
You mean there are no limits???? Eat all you want??? Wow and there are people starving in the world. Even Fortune 500 companies have limits on air travel (not first class) and rooms (not the best suites in the hotel) and food (within reasonable cost or you pay for it yourself). I guess I'm in the wrong field!
#30.1.2 Very Very un-fancy on 2008-02-02 15:06
30.1.1 Anonymous and 30.1.2 Very Very un-fancy,
I suspect that the limits on food and lodging for CEOs (Metropolitan +HERMAN) and the members of the Board of Directors (Holy Synod) are much more generous than those for the rank-and-file employees in any organization of significant size.. Keep in mind that Syosset apparently pays all of the costs associated with the attendance of all reigning hierarchs. Having attended the AACs in Pittsburg (1999) and Orlando (2002) as an observer, if I remember correctly, the hierarchs had a significant number of "working meals", which I expect Syosset paid. I would also expect that each hierarch stayed in a suite, not a normal, single hotel room.
My Parish Council President has suggested that the amount of money the AAC Special Assessment is intended to raise is for the entire cost of the AAC for Syosset, so that there is no repeat of the "payment problem" that occurred with the previous AAC.
#18.104.22.168 Mark C. Phinney on 2008-02-03 04:40
Can Fr. Michael enlighten us on what the breakdown was of the $140K or so that we owed the Sheraton in Toronto? What percentage of the total bill was this $140K? Why wasn't it paid?
Unfortunately people aren't going to pay their assessments unless they know how its going to be used and if another quarter million was raised for Toronto and we wound up with a $140K unpaid bill where did all the money go? What was it used for?
Fr. Michael has apparently started touring to tout the great things done administratively at Syosset. So, in that light I ask that he answer some of the things have been asked here. We can't all be privileged to have him join us personally at our parishes, but we're all eyes and ears here. Father, instead of touring around cheerleading for the administration, you can gain a lot of credibility and good will by just being transparent with the numbers. Again, we ask, how was the $8 figure arrived at and what will it be used for? Let's hope that, again, you will not be quiet. You came here, started something, got a lot of people interested and asking questions, then you disappeared. Not a good way to make us believe that we need to believe you guy's credibility has gone up.
Now, how was that $8 figured arrived at, what will it be used for? Will it be put into a lockbox ENSURING that its ONLY used for AAC expenses? Answer us!
#22.214.171.124.1 Anonymous on 2008-02-04 11:41
The special assessment is not the only income. Isn't there a registration fee that you pay? Doesn't that defray the cost of the AAC? Why do we need an EXTRA quarter million dollars to hold this gathering? For the love of God, Fr. Michael, tell us how this money will be used before we send you anything!
#126.96.36.199.2 Anonymous on 2008-02-04 11:58
Please point out where I said you can eat as much as you want. When I was at the AAC in 1999, we had a sandwich for lunch.
#188.8.131.52 Michael Strelka on 2008-02-04 08:43
This is my memory of the 1999 AAC. I was standing outside the Double Tree on the night of the Grand Banquet having just walked back from the Chinese Restaurant down the street. I watched as a LIMO pulled up to the front of the hotel and out came the then Chancellor and wife, making a grand Hollywood Style entrance to the hotel. Jeweled cross and fancy gown walking right past the homeless people begging outside the hotel. Earlier in the day I had turned in my banquet ticket since I was not going to attend the Big Feast. To this day I am ashamed that I did not still have it to give to the homeless mother outside watching the "grand entrance".
#184.108.40.206.1 Anonymous on 2008-02-04 11:59
Does anyone know if Herman saw his shadow this morning?
#31 Anonymous on 2008-02-02 09:24
Yes, and it means six more years of this garbage.... and still nothing will be resolved.
#31.1 Anonymouse on 2008-02-02 20:28
A Prayer in Time of Trouble
O God, our help and assistance, who art just and merciful, and who heareth the supplications of thy people; look down upon us miserable sinners and have mercy upon us, and deliver us from this trouble that besets us, for which, we know, we are deservedly suffering. We acknowledge and believe, O Lord, that all trials of this life are given by Thee for our chastisement, when we drift away from Thee, and disobey Thy commandments; deal not with us after our sins, but according to Thy bountiful mercies, for we are the works of Thy hands, and Thou knowest our weakness. Grant us, we beseech Thee, Thy divine helping grace, and endow us with patience and strength to endure our tribulations with complete submission to Thy Will. Thou knowest our misery and suffering and to Thee, our only hope and refuge, we flee for relief and comfort; trusting to Thine infinite love and compassion, that in due time, when Thou knowest best, Thou wilt deliver us from this trouble, and turn our distress into comfort, when we shall rejoice in Thy mercy, and exalt and praise Thy Holy Name , O Father, Son amd Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages, Amen.
Thank you, Fr. Farley,
I very much appreciated your reflection, particularly as you summed up, I think, what is happening in the OCA:
"For the canonical legal right to rule is not the issue: the issue is love and trust, and its fruits, mutual submission and unity. Ironically, the increasing demand for canonical submission apart from evidence of love and submission on the part of the one doing the demanding is the very thing that makes trust impossible. ... What is needed is the restoration of moral authority and trust, for it is only by such a restoration that the exercise of any authority in the Church can bear godly and lasting fruit."
I really have a WORKABLE solution: +Herman resigns.
Many in the church have a WORKABLE solution: +Herman resigns.
The St. Mark petition has a WORKABLE solution: +Herman resigns.
This desire for +Herman to resign must be seen in the light of Christian charity it brings to +Herman: No ill will: just resign! You have done what you did; you have done what you could. It is time to move on as so many others at Syosset have, WISELY So!
My feeling is that before, by, during, or just after the AAC +Herman will NEED to resign.
#33 Patty Schellbach on 2008-02-02 20:13
I pray for you, Ansonia, and I stand with you. God be with you.
#34 anonymous on 2008-02-02 20:45
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This will be how the press is going to cover the AAC. We hav all the themes. We have the visuals, the heartrending angles, the outrage. We understand how news works, and have the media contact list and the letterhead. We can surely have 200 peope there -- ouside (we don't even need to get inside), can't we?
The OCA might counter this by hiring a PR firm (I suggest the one that does the Saudis -- they're great) but really... and will they still have any good themes? Seriously, we can't wait until after the AAC, after the report. Reports don't take that long. I know somehing about reports. I used to get dumped somplace on a MOJAG when I was with the JAG Corps and have two or three weeks to wrap up a minor international incident. Reports don't take year after year. They are playing on your ignorance and trust. They are jerking you around.
Brothers and sisters, the bubble has burst. We really all need to talk, first about widespread changes at the top, then have a real dialogue about building a relevant, fighting church here in America for what might be, as far as we know, some very, very tough times ahead.
Stop wringing your hands! Stop crying for lawyers! We can get our church back on track just as long as we want to do so more than the people who are strangling it want to stay. You all act like we're helpless.
Here's another thing. Start signing your names. The bubble has burst. What you say is magnified a hundred fold if you will just put your name to it. Think about it, friends. Becasue if you are afraid to sign your name you're afraid to sign a letter, or get in front of a camera, or stand up to a bishop. You're just afraid, period. Toto has pulled aside the curtain and you're shaking from a little old man pulling levers on an ancient machine.
If one person, like Stonewall, reads this and signs his name, then this post will have been worth it. Or someone else. It is the only way to make yourself count.
Okay, here's how that news story is going to go unless there is a tectonic shift in understanding at the top. Your AAC isn't going to be like you think it is and there is nothing you can do with credentials to make it the way you want it.
--->The Orthdox Church in America, mired in sexual and financial scandals, comes to Pittsburg for its All America Counsel. Church leaders are calling it business as usual, but many of the faithful are demanding nothing less than regime chag, especially after the ordination of a convicted child molester in Alaska. Terenty Dushkin, 26, served a prison term for having sex with girls as young as 13 before he was welcomed into the lower ranks of clergy.
Archimandrite Isidore -- himself the target of a sex investigation whose results have yet to be released -- defended the move by saying "this is not a scandal in any way," and dismissed Dushkin's criminal record -- which resulted in a prison term -- as "youthful indiscretion." "The church does not operate based on public opinion," Isidore said of those who have expressed outrage at the move.
But [insert name] says convicted child molesters have no place in the clergy, no matter how low the level. "When the OCA central adminstration stole funds collected for 911 victims, we wondered how much lower they could go. I guess now we know. Unapologetically ordaining a convicted child molester
and using words like 'no scandal' and 'youthful indiscretion.' This is unbelievable." Clutching two small children to her side, [insert name] said she did not trust her church with her children. "It breaks my heart," she added, "nobody cares."
Besides allegations of rampant sexual misconduct and theft, Orthodox faithful across America have expressed frustration with what they see as a cover-up by the church's top man Metropolitan Herman and what they call a see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, do-nothing council that is supposed to oversee the day-to-day running of the million-member church....
That's all for now... just a tease, really. But it doesn't have to be like this. Disgrace, scandal. This can still end relatively well. But not unless moves are made well in advance of the AAC. You can't manage this Syosset, not this time.
#35 Timothy Capps, Esq. on 2008-02-03 19:38
I have to say Atty Capps, you have a point. These anonymous commentators aren't showing much spine. If you are unwilling to sign your name to a critical post, then how can the recepient of your criticism take your words seriously. Why are you hiding? Are your comments so harsh that you fear recrimination?? At this point, what difference does it make- the immoral and criminal behavior and open and obvious to everyone. If you are fearful of exposure, then perhaps you need to change jurisdictions.
#35.1 Rich Kendall on 2008-02-04 18:33
With due respect to Atty Capps, whose thoughts have been consistently well articulated and on point, and to others who've expressed similar notions re anonymity, if the truth of words can't stand alone for any given reader without knowledge of the author, then they will mean nothing to that reader even if she or he knows who penned them. An idea well expressed and delivered with the stunning, if subtle, force endemic to truth is enough. A caveat, of course: If the subject matter is one requiring or implicating special knowledge, then disclosure of the identity of the writer would add gravitas to the writing to the extent of the writer's good reputation in the relevant field (such as an attorney writing on the law, an accountant or auditor on accounting principles, a theologian on canon law, etc.)
As well, there are people whose spiritual constitutions are not presently developed to overcome whatever fear is driving them (lacking "spine, as you said). Let them be; they are who they are today and that's enough, both for God (who will lead them to change and grow in courage in His time) and for you (who, I suspect we'd agree, have nothing to do with setting the timing of God's plan for such a person). Let them speak sans criticism (save for criticism directed at the substance of the matter written). There are also people with respect to whom, for various reasons, disclosure would be inappropriate; these are probably few, but they exist. And there are certainly others who, for reasons of humility, want to add what they believe to be something worth contributing, but are lead to not make such contribution about themselves, but rather solely about the matter asserted.
I have no attraction toward (or even curiosity for) celebrity (my own or that of others), and never will, I'm sure. That remains as true here as elsewhere. While it is a good thing to sign one's name, it does not follow that it is bad to not. I am not. Judge that, or don't. It matters not. For, I suspect that you will disagree with what I've written here, not because I've not signed my John Hancock, but because you don't view this from the same perspective, or b/c you remain unconvinced of my logic. By the same token, you would not be more likely to then agree with me merely because I have shared my identity with you.
#35.1.1 Anonymous on 2008-02-05 15:20
If I seemed to condemn those who wish to remain anonymous, it was not my intent. I was just trying to provide some encouragement. I understand some people will remain to wish anonymous, and it is not my place to inquire into their reasons. But I respectfuly invite all who post to consider that each former anonymous who comes forward under his or her own name demonstrates tht the grip of fear is weakening. It is a tiny moral victory, if you will.
#220.127.116.11 Timothy Capps, Esq. on 2008-02-05 18:11
Please Anonymous the 16th or whoever you are - I don't understand what you are trying to say. Can you get to the point? It seems that half the folks posting here do not identify themselves. Frankly, I do not think it has anything to do with humility or lack thereof. There are many good anonymous commentaries, but my point was that why live in fear or obscurity? What is there to fear? How can we effect any real positive change, if we remain in hiding? These authorities thrive on keeping us in such a position.
#18.104.22.168 Rich Kendall on 2008-02-05 21:12
To cut the costs of the AAC, I suggest we all telecommute from our computers with video. A central communications station can patch one person in at a time for their presentation and then rebuttal with voting via the computer also. The communications board CANNOT be controlled by the SOB or Met. In this manner, the AAC could go on for several days with ALL the business handled. A session from 9-12, break for lunch, a session from 1-3, tea time, a session from 4-6, dinner and daily wrap up from 8-9. At the end of the 3-4 day session, all the decisions would be available for download in pdf.
#36 Anonymous on 2008-02-04 07:55
What if they gave an AAC and nobody came?
Actually, I prefer the suggestion above, that the whole 'affaire' be conducted via the internet. Having endured any number of conventions (both in the Episcopal Church) and the DOW, electronic 'meetings' insure that one can actually do something useful (like preparing dinner or cleaning the garage) while all the talking is going on.
#36.1 Jim of Olym on 2008-02-04 15:10
An earlier post gave us this, "The demand for politeness is a knife to the throat of free speech." When did civilized behavior and discourse become an impediment to establishing fact? I would never deny one the ability to speak freely, but when did free speech become synonymous with the truth? "Politeness" requires one to listen and think over their choice of words before responding. It doesn't hide anything and it makes for more rational thought. I would prefer the hesitation of politeness to give us time to discern the truth and respond appropriately. The slap-down of an internet blog free-for-all is amusing, but it doesn't often point you in the direction of truth and doesn't make friends with anyone. Lets get the facts, expose them to light, and keep them in public view. It is a very effective way to let our hierarch's know how we feel. We can do it with honor and integrity and still be polite about it.
#37 Wordsmith on 2008-02-04 08:33
Request for prayers for Metropolitan Theodosius
Article posted: 2/4/2008 11:18 AM
SYOSSET, NY [OCA Communications] – The former Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Theodosius has been diagnosed with a serious medical condition. The exact nature of the situation is yet to be determined. His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman is asking that the clergy and faithful of the Orthodox Church in America include the name of Metropolitan Theodosius in their prayers.
(Editor's note: Metropolitan Theodosius stated this weekend in a parish visit in Western Pennsylvania that he has a brain tumour. )
#38 Anon. on 2008-02-04 10:39
I'm not sure when "civilized behavior and discourse became an impediment to establishing fact" but I think -- in general public discourse -- it has been within the last fifty years. If you doubt me, try to challenge consensus wisdom on any politically correct issue today and you'll quickly find the limits of free speech. It need not necessarily be so, but it is a fact no one with any sort of intellectual life these days can failed to have noticed.
As for politeness itself, it is preferred, I agree. When it becomes clear that it is getting you nowhere, it may become a choice between politeness and forcing the issue. This is particularly true in any highly controlled environment.
Free speech is not synonymous with the truth. I never said it was. Neither is it is an affront to the truth. It is, however, usually the most direct route to the truth and has a power all its own, which is why you fear it so much.
It is simply wrong to say politeness doesn't hide anything and makes for more rational thought. Politeness demonstrably does hide things and makes for thought all fuzzy with unwillingness to face hard issues because they are impolite.
"Get the facts, expose then to light and keep them in public view. It is a very effective way to let our heirarchs know how we feel. We can do it with honor and integrity and still be polite about it."
Those same hierarchs have the facts, and keeping them from the light, and out of the public view. They have demonstrated time and time again that they do not care how we feel, unless money is involved. You and I have a different sense of honor (right down to the the fact that I feel it is honorable to sign my name when criticizing someone).
You're welcome to try your way. You're so polite you don't even want anyone to know who you are. "Please, Metropolitan Herman, please, oh please tell this anonymous soul what really happened." That's how they like it. Because there's nothing behind it but... politeness.
And by the way, I'm not interested in making friends with anyone. The mess we're in, my Christmas card list is the last thing I should be worrying about.
#39 Timothy Capps, Esq. on 2008-02-04 10:50
Is it true the diocese of mid-west is going to release their assessments by April 1st? God forbid! How do we stop this?
I heard 20 parishes of Washington/NY are withholding.
#40 Anonymous on 2008-02-04 16:52
Why don't you call the Diocesan office yourself. The number is listed on the OCA web site. And don't forget to tell them who you are.
#40.1 Michael Strelka on 2008-02-05 15:06
I stand with you Ansonia. I very much admire your courage and wish you well.
#41 anonymous on 2008-02-04 21:14
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