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OCANews: OCA In Headlines Again

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  • Nina_Dimas_42
    1.2.07 +Theodosius Declines Comment OCA In Headlines Again The ongoing scandal in the OCA drew renewed attention from the news media in the final week of
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 2, 2007
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      1.2.07


      +Theodosius "Declines Comment"

      OCA In Headlines Again

      The ongoing scandal in the OCA drew renewed attention from the news
      media in the final week of 2006, with the following article by
      appearing in longer or shorter versions in newspapers throughout the
      country, from Kodiak to Canton. The story, in full, read:

      "Auditors find financial misconduct in Orthodox Church in America
      By: Associated Press

      NEW YORK ---- A preliminary investigation of longtime financial
      wrongdoing in the administration of the Orthodox Church in America
      confirmed claims of impropriety that outside auditors said 'centered
      on and around one individual.'

      The Holy Synod of Bishops and the Metropolitan Council, which
      oversees church administration, said that financial controls had
      been 'circumvented' at least since 1998, and that auditors had
      uncovered a 'pattern of personal use of church money' for years.
      The person believed responsible for the misconduct was not
      identified in the Dec. 12 statement and no figure was released on
      the amount of money involved. A spokesman for the 400,000-member
      church, based in Syosset, N.Y., said he could provide no further
      details.

      Church leaders commissioned the audit following claims by former
      treasurer, Protodeacon Eric Wheeler, that the church chancellor,
      Robert S. Kondratick, and Metropolitan Theodosius, the now retired
      head of the church, were the chief perpetrators of 'financial
      corruption.'

      Among the wrongdoing auditors said they uncovered were falsified
      financial reports and attempts to divert money that had been donated
      to charity.

      Harry Kutner, an attorney for Kondratick, said Tuesday 'it's pretty
      obvious' the person singled out in the report is his client. Kutner
      insists that the clergyman, who was dismissed as chancellor in
      March, did nothing wrong. 'He has nothing to hide,' Kutner said,
      arguing leaders of the denomination are scapegoating Kondratick to
      maintain their authority in the church.

      Theodosius, who retired in 2002, declined to comment.

      Mark Stokoe, a Dayton, Ohio, layman who runs OCAnews.org, which is
      pressing the church for reform, called the preliminary results 'a
      step in the right direction.' The audit was conducted by the
      accounting firm Lambrides Lamos Moulthrop and the law firm Proskauer
      Rose.

      The church has appointed a committee of laypeople and clergy to
      oversee the rest of the Proskauer Rose investigation, which is
      expected to conclude within a few months. Church leaders are also
      overhauling their administrative structure to prevent any future
      wrongdoing."

      The OCA story, in slightly different form, was also included in a
      second AP article regarding a study of financial wrongdoing in
      Catholic dioceses. That article reads:

      "VILLANOVA, Pa. -- An overwhelming majority of respondents in a
      study of financial controls in U.S. Roman Catholic dioceses reported
      cases of embezzlement in the last five years.

      Eighty-five percent of the diocesan administrators who took part in
      the review told Villanova University researchers that internal
      thefts had been uncovered in their dioceses.

      The report, written by Villanova professors Charles Zech and Robert
      West and supported by a grant from the Louisville Institute, did not
      include an estimate of the money lost. But 11 percent of respondents
      said total embezzlements in the last five years exceeded $500,000,
      while 29 percent reported cases of less than $50,000.

      In nearly all of the cases, police reports were filed, the survey
      found.

      Zech and West undertook the study in response to the clergy sex
      abuse crisis, which brought pressure on bishops to disclose how much
      they had paid in abuse-related costs and to be more open with
      parishioners in general about diocesan finances.

      Forty-five percent of the more than 170 U.S. dioceses responded to
      questions for the report, which was released Dec. 13. The authors
      recommended dioceses establish fraud policies, conduct annual audits
      of parishes and establish a uniform budgeting process that uses
      standardized software.

      Auditors Find Misconduct In Orthodox Church

      In related news, a probe of financial wrongdoing in the Orthodox
      Church in America has confirmed claims of impropriety that outside
      auditors said 'centered on and around one individual.'

      Former church chancellor Robert Kondratick's lawyer said 'it's
      pretty obvious' that the unidentified person mentioned in the report
      is his client, but insists that Kondratick did nothing wrong.

      The Orthodox Church in America's Metropolitan Council and Holy Synod
      of Bishops say the auditors uncovered a 'pattern of personal use of
      church money' for years.

      Among the wrongdoing auditors said they found were falsified
      financial reports and attempts to divert money that had been donated
      to charity."

      The AP's belated notice of the story (which was released on December
      13th by the OCA) may be attributed to the fact that its long-time
      Religion Editor Richard Ostling (who covered the events of last
      March including the termination of Fr. Kondratick and the launching
      of the Proskauer Rose investigation) retired that same week. The new
      editor, Rachel Zoll, has indicated she intends to follow the OCA
      story with interest.

      - Mark Stokoe
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