Holy Synod of Bishops issues archpastoral statement

SYOSSET, NY [OCA Communications] — The members of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America issued an archpastoral statement to the clergy, monastics, and faithful of the Church at the conclusion of their spring session held at the Chancery here March 20-22, 2007.

The text of the statement reads as follows.

“To the Reverend Clergy, Monastics and Faithful of the Orthodox Church in

“Dearly Beloved in the Lord:

“For more than a year, the Church has been preoccupied with allegations of improper financial activities by employees of the Chancery. By now, most are aware that the accusations are focused on three general areas, that:

“1. The processes in place for administrative and financial controls were routinely circumvented;

“2. Monies designated to specific charities were diverted and used for other purposes; and

“3. Church money was used for personal purposes.

“It must be confessed that during early 2006, there were many of us who believed that the allegations were exaggerated, motivated by the personal animosity of the accusers, or that there were simple explanations to these
‘misunderstandings.’ In March of 2006, it became apparent to us that we were wrong in these beliefs, and that there was substance to at least some of the claims. In addition, we realized that we were not equipped to investigate these matters without professional assistance. We solicited recommendations of law firms that had impeccable reputations and expertise to assist us in the investigation, and Proskauer Rose was selected to look into the allegations on our behalf. Their role was simple in concept, though difficult in execution; the firm was to review the allegations, to determine which ones were supported by credible evidence, and to advise us on possible courses of action. Assisting Proskauer in this assignment was our auditing firm Lambrides, Lamos, Moulthrop LLP.

“The investigation consisted of interviewing chancery employees and former employees, collecting and reviewing tens of thousands of documents from a variety of sources, such as the OCA archives, bank records, personal records of the interviewees, and Church financial records. In October of 2006, a representative group of the Holy Synod and the Metropolitan Council met with Sarah Gold (the partner at Proskauer conducting the investigation), to receive the presentation of her preliminary findings. The body of evidence that was presented was detailed and quite frankly, shocking. The confirmed instances of the abuse of Church trust were determined to be centered on one person, the former Chancellor of the Church.

“At its next meeting, the Holy Synod received a detailed summary of the Proskauer and Lambrides investigative work, and concluded that a joint meeting of the Holy Synod and the Metropolitan Council would be appropriate, given the nature and scope of the breakdown of the financial systems. On December 14, 2006, Ms. Gold and Mr. Steve Lamos (named partner of the Lambrides firm), appeared before us to present and answer questions from the Joint Session. At its conclusion, a Special Investigative Committee was appointed to complete the report on the investigation and to provide its recommendations to the Metropolitan Council. On March 13, 2007, the Metropolitan Council heard the result of the considerable amount of work done by the Committee in compiling the outcome of the investigative work done by the respective firms, and received their detailed written report. The report presented reliable and verifiable evidence to support the allegations leveled against the former chancellor of the OCA. The Metropolitan Council voted unanimously to recommend the ‘Immediate suspension of Father Kondratick by his bishop.’ The complete report was submitted to the Holy Synod, and was presented by Archbishop Job and Bishop Benjamin.

“In a letter of March 18, 2007, Archbishop Dmitri forwarded a request by Protopresbyter Kondratick to appear before the Holy Synod to ‘... answer any questions we might have related to the current situation in The Orthodox Church In America.’ After a consultation among the bishops, we agreed to permit him to appear as requested. On March 20, 2007, Fr. Kondratick appeared before us, presented his statement, and answered questions relating to his time as Chancellor. After substantial deliberation in executive session, we concurred that the explanations provided were neither credible nor persuasive, and found ourselves in agreement with the recommendation of the Metropolitan Council.

“At the written request of His Eminence, Archbishop Dmitri, and following consultation with the members of the Holy Synod, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman agreed to rescind the transfer of Protopresbyter Robert S. Kondratick to the Diocese of the South. Further actions appropriate under the circumstances will be initiated by Fr. Kondratick’s Bishop, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman.

“We know that strife and enmity have entered our lives during the course of this past year. Much has been said or written during this time that has added temptation, pain and suffering to so many. During these final days of Great Lent, we ask you to join us as your Archpastors. Let us stand together before our God of mercy, and beg His forgiveness for our sins, known and unknown. Let us re-enter His presence and the joy of His love and choose life, by following Him as the true and living way, our Companion, Guide, and Guardian during our earthly journey. As we celebrate Pascha and
sing ‘Let God Arise,” may we accept the challenges contained in the text as we enter ever so deeply into the joy of His Kingdom.”

The statement was signed by Metropolitan Herman, Archbishop of Washington and New York, Metropolitan of All America and Canada, chairman; Archbishop Kyrill of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania and the Bulgarian Archdiocese; Archbishop Dmitri of Dallas and the South; Archbishop Nathaniel of Detroit and the Romanian Episcopate; Archbishop Job of Chicago and the Midwest; Archbishop Seraphim of Ottawa and Canada, secretary; Bishop Nikon of Boston, New England, and the Albanian Archdiocese; Bishop Tikhon of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania; Bishop Benjamin, Bishop-elect of San Francisco and the West; Bishop Alejo of Mexico City, Auxiliary to the Metropolitan; and Bishop Irineu of Dearborn Heights, Auxiliary to the Romanian Episcopate.