6949OCANews Reflection: The Special Commission: Working -- or Working Around?
- Mar 1, 2007[This reflection is written by a priest from another jurisdiction.]
The Special Commission:
Working -- or Working Around?
What is the Special Commission's direction? Will it go where it is
In concluding his February 6 memo to the Metropolitan Council,
Metropolitan Herman notes that counsel for the Special Commission,
as well as counsel for the OCA, both advise a course of
action "consistent with due legal process." Metropolitan Herman's
directives repeatedly tasks the Special Commission to consult with --
and even constrain (!) -- OCA's Proskauer Rose counselors. He
says: 'meet with the attorneys of Proskauer Rose to determine what
tasks still needed to be concluded by them, with the estimated time
and money associated with its completion', 'meet with the attorneys
of Proskauer Rose to review the scope of the investigation documents
in order to help determine what form a written report should take',
and 'instruct the attorneys of Proskauer Rose to provide the written
report to the Commission only'.
Suppose, instead, that these Commissioners independently answered
Archbishop Job's original question: "Are the allegations true or
false?" Might the Commissioners' own questions and their path to the
answers, diverge from the direction tasked them by Metropolitan
Herman -- the direction the attorneys call "legally due"? What
would be the consequences?
Would the FBI investigation of this crisis be harmed by a prompt
Commissioners' report? Probably not.
Instead, a wide-ranging report might aid the criminal case. First,
it would supplement the prosecutor's investigation. Second, the
Commission's candid disclosure of wrongdoings would 'awaken the
peasants,' making prosecution more palatable politically both inside
and outside the Church.
As to civil law, would attorneys representing this crisis's players
complain that the Commission's transparent, unredacted report
taints their clients' due legal process? Again, not likely. These
lawyers might instead welcome the Commission's wide-ranging
assessment of wrong-doings. It could goad their reticent clients to
finally engage the process by filing lawsuits.
In fact, both criminal and civil due legal processes will likely
quicken when the Special Commission addresses the tasks first
proposed by Commissioner Nescott. These were aimed at discovering:
"What took place,
Why it went wrong,
Why it won't happen in the future and what limitations have been put
And that the individuals responsible are not in those positions."
(Metropolitan Council Minutes, 12/12/06, in OCANews, 2/3/07)
Archbishop Job asked his question and his fellow Commissioners
seemed to have parsed it into these tasks whose accomplishment would
indeed "move the church forward". They maintain that timely,
credible answers will promote the OCA's healing.
On the other hand, Proskauer Rose gives the OCA its "legal due" by
helping it avoid criminal or civil actions. That's what lawyers do.
Their direction, however, will fail to "move the Church forward".
Must the OCA devise legally constructed niceties in deference to
potential civil litigants? Must it wait, to avoid 'tainting' the
FBIinvestigation -- one which may never be disclosed? Is the OCA
obliged to defer instituting its own metanoia? By such waiting and
by caution, the OCA may fail to ever examine its past.
Were the Commissioners to investigate and report as originally
planned, they would likely hasten further, deeper examinations by
external investigators, both criminal and civil. No wonder, then,
that Proskauer Rose directs otherwise. Their client might become
even more uncovered, were legally muscled questioners to move even
those rocks the Commissioners found too heavy. The sooner the OCA
learns rigorous answers to the Special Commissioners' own questions,
the sooner the OCA can confront its misdeeds and turn from them.
Then the Church can move forward.
Whither the Special Commissioners? God direct their paths!
Rev. David Kossey
Editor's Note: Fr. David Kossey is a coordinator for emergency
disaster relief for the IOCC, a board member of New York Disaster
Interfaith Services, and pastor of St. Mary's Carpatho-Russian
Church in Manhattan.
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