I will apologize up front for the sarcasm expressed in this blog. The recent “pastoral” letter of the OCA bishops has left me sardonic. The sad reality is those who profess to be shepherds acknowledge that they are both misled and misleading, and that they have misled and yet want to be honored as pastors.
“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” says the LORD. Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: “You have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil doings, says the LORD. Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, says the LORD” (Jeremiah 23:1-4)
A little walk through history (dates listed are of postings on oca.org) might help the bishops of the synod to understand why their flocks do not feel they are following good shepherds:
20 January 2006 “At the Lesser Synod meeting today, His Beatitude, Metropolitan HERMAN, and the Members of the Lesser Synod, have reaffirmed the decisions made by the Holy Synod of Bishops, at the time these concerns were first raised, in 1999, and 2000. ….Metropolitan HERMAN has provided for a yet higher level of accountability…. “The Lesser Synod regrets certain information, and statements concerning the financial administration of the church, that may have been accepted as indisputably the truth.”
Yes, they reaffirmed in 2006 the decisions they made in 1999 and 2000 regarding the finances of the OCA, and that they had thoroughly reviewed the allegations. They reassured us there were no problems. They were either wrong or they were lying, either way, we have been warned about what they tell us – don’t accept what they say as truth. And the metropolitan himself is pushing for a higher level of accountability – hopefully he will continue this when the SIC report is released to the church. They also had regrets that certain information and statements they made and gave us may have been accepted as the truth – translation: WARNING, when the Synod speaks, do not accept it as the truth because that is not necessarily how they intended it to be received.
17 November 2005 “His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman, addressed numerous concerns that arose in response to information and statements circulated in recent weeks, primarily on the internet. Emphasizing that all financial matters are his responsibility, Metropolitan Herman informed council members that he plans to order independent audits by an outside CPA firm licensed within the State of New York. He further reported that the results of the independent audits will be made available to the Church at large. “Our love and concern must be for the Church,” Metropolitan Herman stated, adding that recent allegations, especially those circulated on the internet, are ‘not for the good of the Church.” In response to questions about earmarked donations, Father Strikis noted that such contributions are used as specified by the donors. “
All financial matters are his responsibility the metropolitan said. Let us hope he feels this way when the SIC report is released. And the metropolitan assured us that the allegations circulating on the Internet are not for the good of the church – but apparently corruption, lying , theft, embezzlement, cover up, complicity, darkness and sin are for the good of the church – especially if committed by the leadership. We also should take comfort that as honorable a man as Fr. Strikis told us that all earmarked donations are used as specified by the donors.
20 April 2000 “Metropolitan THEODOSIUS also discussed the implications demographic change has had on the Church’s finances and administrative structures. In the area of finances, the Metropolitan reported that he and His Eminence, Archbishop HERMAN of Philadelphia, Acting Treasurer of the Orthodox Church in America, together with a number of trusted professionals, met with the accounting firm of Lambrides, Lamos, Moulthrop and Co., which subsequently completed and signed the audits for 1997 and 1998.“
Good news, our current metropolitan with a number of “trusted” professionals was over looking the OCA finances. We are in good hands and so have nothing to worry about – let the professionals take care of things, but let us not have Christians handle it for they would reveal the whole truth.
20 November 1999 ” Financial questions reviewed, year 2000 budget passed. Questions involving the OCA’s financial situation were also reviewed in detail by Metropolitan Council members. His Eminence, Archbishop Herman, Acting Treasurer, reported on the status of the financial audit, noting that some questions had arisen with regard to the Metropolitan’s Discretionary Fund. In response to this report, Council members issued a statement concerning the fund. [The complete text of this statement is available on the OCA web site.]“
Unfortunately that statement and some other financial reports and statements are no longer available on OCA.org. But not to worry, for the bishop surely would tell us the whole truth, and even if something was wrong, the metropolitan would accept complete responsibility for it – he didn’t say he would correct the problems, nor reveal them, but apparently for him accepting responsibility for them meant he would try to insure that no one ever found out about them.