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Syosset Witholds Special Commission's Statement

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    http://ocanews.org/news/SyossetWithholds2307.html SYOSSET WITHOLDS SPECIAL COMMISSION S STATEMENT On Wednesday, January 31st, members of the Metropolitan
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 3, 2007
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      http://ocanews.org/news/SyossetWithholds2307.html

      SYOSSET WITHOLDS SPECIAL COMMISSION'S STATEMENT

      On Wednesday, January 31st, members of the
      Metropolitan Council received the following
      update from the Special Commission charged with
      completing the ongoing investigation. It read:

      "Dear Metropolitan Council members:

      Pursuant to His Beatitude's charge to the
      Commission established to continue the
      investigation, the Commission is required to
      periodically report back to the Metropolitan
      Council on developments. In the meantime, to
      answer the many questions being asked about
      whether the Commission has been meeting and
      proceeding with its work, the Commission has prepared a brief statement.

      The statement was submitted last night to the
      Metropolitan for his approval before it is
      published on the church website, which is normal
      procedure. Anticipating its approval and
      publication there, we send it to you now as a courtesy (below).

      Naturally, a more detailed report will be
      prepared for submission to the Metropolitan Council meeting in March."

      Four days later the Statement has still not
      appeared on the OCA website, nor have
      Metropolitan Council members been given any
      indication when, or even if, the Statement will
      appear. Little in the Statement appears
      controversial given that it is largely a
      recitation of facts - names, dates and meeting
      times. One paragraph does, however, set forth the
      questions the Commission seeks to answer, and the
      reasons for these questions. These very same
      questions are contained in the as-yet unpublished
      Minutes of the joint meeting of the Synod of
      Bishops and Metropolitan Council held December
      11-13 in Syosset. The withholding of the Minutes,
      and now of the Commission's Statement, is raising
      concern among Council members as to the nature of
      Syosset's commitment to the very investigative
      process the Metropolitan himself launched in March 2006.

      The Statement of the Commission

      The Commission's Statement reads:

      "Statement of the Special Commission

      On December 12, 2006, an extraordinary joint
      session of the Holy Synod and the Metropolitan
      Council of the Orthodox Church in America heard a
      report on the investigation of alleged financial
      improprieties from the New York City law firm
      Proskauer Rose LLC. Following that report, His
      Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman named six
      individuals --- two bishops, two archpriests, and
      two lay persons --- to a committee charged with
      completing the investigation initiated by Proskauer Rose.

      On December 19, 2006, Metropolitan Herman
      appointed His Eminence, Job, Archbishop of
      Chicago, Diocese of the Midwest, to chair the
      Special Commission, whose task was 'to work
      together with the attorneys from the Proskauer
      Rose law firm to bring the investigation that
      began in March 2006 to a conclusion in the most appropriate way.'

      The Special Commission began its work with a
      telephone conference the following week, on
      December 28, 2006. Among the decisions made at
      that meeting was the appointment of Alexandra
      Makosky, Esq. of Carlisle, Pennsylvania as special counsel to the Commission.

      Since that time, Commission members have been in
      regular communication by e-mail. On January 24,
      2007, all members of the Commission met in Parma,
      Ohio for nearly ten hours, with Attorney Makosky
      participating by telephone. The Commission
      reviewed 700 pages of documents provided a week
      earlier in response to a formal request to
      Proskauer Rose. A plan for completing the
      investigation with the assistance of Proskauer
      Rose was agreed to, with meetings with Proskauer
      Rose in New York City tentatively scheduled for the first week of February.

      The Commission has agreed that the restoration of
      trust must be the primary goal of the
      investigation, and that at the conclusion of its
      work, a written report to the Church must be
      made. These questions are among those that need
      to be answered concerning the crisis that has affected the Church:

      What exactly happened?
      Why did it happen?
      What can be done to prevent this from happening again?
      Why will those responsible for permitting it to
      happen not be in those positions of responsibility again?

      The Commission also acknowledged the need for
      apologies and repentance to be offered before the
      Orthodox Church in America can move forward.

      Members of the Commission remain deeply concerned
      about details of their work being disclosed
      before the investigation and report are complete.
      Such premature leaks would be unfair to all
      parties involved, and the Commission members have
      pledged to keep their findings and conclusions
      strictly confidential until their work is done.
      This means that no one in the Church, other than
      the members of the Commission and special
      counsel, will be privy to the results of the
      ongoing investigation. The Commission is
      convinced that leaks and partial disclosures
      serve no one, and could seriously compromise the credibility of its work.

      The Commission asks the members of the Church to
      be patient as it proceeds as expeditiously as
      possible, recognizing that a final report must not be unduly delayed.

      An interim progress report will be made by the
      Commission to the next meeting of the
      Metropolitan Council, March 13-14, 2007, in Syosset, New York.

      The Commission asks for the support and prayers
      of the faithful as it seeks to complete this very difficult task.

      The members of the Commission include its chair,
      Archbishop Job; His Grace, Benjamin, Bishop of
      Berkeley, Administrator of the Diocese of the
      West; Very Reverend Vladimir Berzonsky, Parma,
      Ohio; Very Reverend John Reeves, State College,
      Pennsylvania; Gregory Nescott, Allison Park,
      Pennsylvania; and Dr. Faith Skordinski, Germantown, Maryland."

      Work Revealed

      The Statement provides the first glimpse of the
      Commission, its goals and style. Clearly the
      Commission has already reached two important
      conclusions: that the restoration of trust is the
      primary goal of the investigation and therefore,
      a written report to the Church must be made at
      the conclusion of its work. Is this what the Metropolitan objects to?

      More likely, it appears to be the questions 'that
      need to be answered' that the Metropolitan finds objectionable. These are:

      What exactly happened?
      Why did it happen?
      What can be done to prevent this from happening again?
      Why will those responsible for permitting it to
      happen not be in those positions of responsibility again?

      Yet none of these questions should come as a
      surprise to Syosset. They are taken almost word
      for word from page 10 of the most recent
      Metropolitan Council Minutes, under an Action
      Item that established the Commission. Those Minutes read:

      "Because most of the investigation has been
      completed, Attorney Perry recommends that the
      Metropolitan Council request a summary of the
      remaining work from Proskauer Rose concerning the
      investigation and receive their advice as to the
      remaining steps to take to bring the
      investigation to a conclusion. Attorney Perry
      also suggested that the Church separate the needs
      of the investigation from the work to move
      forward with the life of the Church.

      Attorney Gregory Nescott suggested that a
      five-step process be considered for moving
      forward at this time. The Orthodox Church in America at large needs to be told:

      • What took place
      • Why it went wrong
      • Why it won't happen in the future and what limitation have been put in place
      • And that the individuals responsible are not in those positions
      • Expressions of forgiveness and repentance even
      if not received from those involved.

      His Beatitude Metropolitan Herman appointed His
      Eminence, Archbishop Job, His Grace, Bishop
      Benjamin, Father Vladimir Berzonsky, Fr. John
      Reeves, Dr. Faith Skordinski, and Attorney
      Gregory Nescott to draft a statement to summarize
      the results of the presentation made by Proskauer
      Rose concerning the on-going investigation.
      Further, they are to work together with one
      another and with the attorneys from Proskauer
      Rose to bring the investigation to a conclusion in the most appropriate way."

      It cannot be coincidental that the only point of
      confluence between the as-yet unpublished Minutes
      of the Metropolitan Council and the withheld
      Statement of the independent Special Commission
      are the same set of four questions that get to
      the heart of this scandal. The Metropolitan may
      have intended the Commission to do little more
      than to accept without further inquiry the
      results of the investigation as reported by
      Proskauer Rose to this point. But that is quite
      different from bringing the scandal to a
      conclusion. Clearly, the latter is the
      Commission's understanding of its charge.

      By withholding the Statement of the Commission
      and the Minutes of the Joint Session, Syosset
      lends credence to the former interpretation -
      further dimming the fading credibility of this
      administration. It emphasizes the perception
      among some Metropolitan Council members that the
      Metropolitan truly does fear questioning; and
      does not want an investigation that seeks to
      discover the whole truth. In so doing, the
      Metropolitan prolongs the scandal for the entire
      OCA into the uncertain future.

      The Special Commission is scheduled to meet this coming week in New York City.

      - Mark Stokoe
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