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What Concerns Me About the OCA

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    http://ocanews.org/news/StokoeStatementtoIndy7.31.08.html What Concerns Me About the OCA by Mark Stokoe At the Hartford Town Hall one week ago, a priest began
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 1, 2008
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      What Concerns Me About the OCA
      by Mark Stokoe

      At the Hartford Town Hall one week ago, a priest began the meeting by
      lamenting that "Things have snow-balled and it is hard to know what the
      issue really is." From the beginning of this scandal in
      September 1999 to today, in July 2008 the issue has always remained the
      same, although the crises have been many. The issue is integrity - or
      rather, the lack of same.

      The issue of integrity goes beyond who did what, when, where and with
      whom, for whatever reasons important as they are. The sad fact is that
      we have lacked integrity in our administrative structures, in the gulf
      between our stated goals and our actual practices. Our leaders have
      acted without integrity; too often confusing self-interest for
      principle. And more often than not we have followed without integrity,
      turning our heads the other way, rather than our cheeks, passively
      waiting for evil to move on rather than confronting it. Lacking
      integrity, neither our administration, our leaders, or we ourselves
      have been able to right the OCA, no matter what changes the
      administration has tried to make, or more accurately, our leaders have
      tried to avoid.

      The report of the Special Investigative Commission will not give us
      integrity; at best it can only give us more facts. And the All American
      Council threatens to disintegrate into a welter of pointless attempts
      to restore integrity - as if shrinking the size of Central Church
      Administration will expand its integrity; or reducing our church life
      to dioceses and parishes will somehow reduce our problems. No matter
      how small we make ourselves, the lack of integrity will be noticed.
      Others advocate evangelizing our problems away - others uniting them
      away in ever larger Orthodox groupings. Friends, just as size is not
      our problem, offering solutions to the problems of others while
      continuing to fail to address our own only makes our problems worse;
      and thinking we can find our path again through others only makes us
      more lost than we already appear.

      The issue is integrity, which cannot be inherited, bought,
      re-organized, hidden, ignored, protected by lawyers, enacted by
      Statute, or declared to exist - nor matter how great the hierarch. It
      is a simple matter of choice. St. John Chrysostom wrote: "There is a
      gift which surpasses all others - the gift of knowing right from wrong,
      and the courage to choose what is right. This gift is not something
      which is given at birth, for with some people possess and others do
      not. It is like a seed sown in every human heart, and it grows only if
      it is nurtured through education, prayer and practice."

      We are educated enough in this scandal - through admissions of
      embezzlement, evidence of fraud and a public trail of misdirection and
      cover-up -to know what integrity now demands. The SIC Report will only
      confirm it. We have prayed for three years, but the fact is that this
      cup will not pass from us. If we are to re-gain our integrity, our
      wholeness, our authenticity, the gift of knowing right from wrong and
      the courage to do what is right, the next joint Synod and Metropolitan
      Council meeting at the beginning of September must put what little
      integrity remains into practice. That begins with the Metropolitan's
      voluntary resignation, or failing that, his immediate involuntary

      Many more difficult decisions face us following that one.

      I am hopeful that the OCA can face the uncertain future with integrity.
      But of this I am certain: without integrity we have no future no matter
      what the Synod, or even the All American Council decides.

      Bigger, smaller, richer, poorer, united, alone, focusing on the
      glorious past or moving on towards the future, lacking integrity we
      will have lost the gift which surpasses all others, and without which
      we shall fail, even were we accomplish all else.

      Mark Stokoe
      St. Paul Orthodox Parish, Dayton OH
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