Voices from Russia

Sunday, 3 August 2014

3 August 2014. One of the Cabinet Speaks Up… It’s a Read n’ Heed Kids…

signing-on-the-dotted-line

The OCA LOVES “confidential settlements”… “We admit no crime or wrongdoing”. It’s time that we held clerics to the same standard that we hold everyone else to (which includes public judgement of criminal matters). In any case, hasn’t Storheim injured the Church’s credibility enough? It’s time to ‘fess up and get down… but will we?

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Editor:

I got this from a Cabinet member a while back… it still has relevance. We have a lot of labour ahead of us… I have a word or two after this.

BMD

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I just can’t wrap my head around why the [OCA] Chancellor posts the Pastoral Changes with a three-month delay. Okay, so maybe the dioceses don’t send in their reports sharp at the end of the month, so it takes, say, a couple or three weeks to extort the data from overworked diocesan chancellors with families, parish assignments of their own, etc. Can’t they have the thing done and posted by the end of the following month, then? Does it really warrant a quarterly posting schedule? Also, note that they’re not posted in a single place on the OCA website; you literally have to search for the press releases and dig them out one by one. It’s maddening.

Speaking of the Pastoral Changes, it hit me that I’d missed the ones for August and September, so I went and looked them up. Guess what I found? Archimandrite Gerasim Eliel assigned to St Seraphim Cathedral in Dallas TX effective 1 September 2013!  I knew (and I think you reported earlier) that he’d gone to a parish in the Diocese of the South, but being assigned to the Cathedral there is whole ‘nother story! So, is this how they’re trying to foist him upon the South? Remember, Fr Gerasim didn’t drop out of GTU. No, he dropped out of college at UC Santa Cruz and ended up going off to Platina in 1981. Download a copy of his excruciatingly detailed episcopal search autobiography, which is good for these points here. By the way, Fr David Brum didn’t attend GTU either… he attended St Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park CA for his M.Div. and the Catholic University of America in DC for his JCL (a licentiate in Canon Law). Here’s his bio for the details.

Now, speaking of Canon Law, I should add a few words on the Storheim saga. Firstly, in canonical terms, a man is either a cleric or not. When we depose a cleric, we don’t demote him to a lower order, but remove him from the ranks of the clergy altogether. Therefore, we can’t “roll back” Storheim to be a simple priest… we’ve ordained him a Bishop, and he must either remain a Bishop or no longer be a clergyman at all. It’s correct that according to the canonical tradition, we can’t punish someone for one crime twice. What this means is that, if we deposed him for the abuse of minors, then, we couldn’t excommunicated him for that same crime. That would be the double punishment.

Now, presumably, Storheim received monastic tonsure before being ordained a Bishop, so, even if we depose him from the clergy, he’d still be a monk under obedience to whomever his Bishop is unless he asks for a release from that state of life as well. If we depose him, his Bishop (after consulting with the Synod) CAN and SHOULD send him off to a monastery somewhere far away to live out the rest of his days. He seems to like Finland; they should see if somewhere over there would take him.

As for the deposition, note that the canons require a court of twelve Bishops to depose another Bishop. Even with the newly filled vacancies in Alaska and Eastern PA, the OCA is up only to 10 (it’s still down three, with vacancies in the Midwest, the South, and for all practical purposes, Canada). Now, one thing the Synod can do (there’s historical precedent) is to ask another Local Church to provide the missing number of Bishops… which realistically means Moscow in this case. I don’t know if they’ve asked them, but even Moscow might have its reasons not to soil its hands with the OCA’s dirty work, at least not immediately. We’ll just have to see what transpires in the immediate future… I can’t imagine that session of the Holy Synod that considered SMPAC and ORSMA policies and “reviewed a variety of clergy matters, including disciplines” ended without discussing the Storheim débâcle. Anyway, it’s important that the canonical process of deposition is impeccable. This is the first time that the OCA would set out to depose a Bishop, and we should give no excuse to Storheim’s supporters to argue that the deposition wasn’t valid. You remember how JP’s supporters argued that his own resignation was invalid? Imagine some employing the same tactic here, and with a far more unnerving goal.

Regarding Metropolitan Philip Saliba, your correspondent was right. He released clergy to and received them from the ROCOR normally even when they weren’t in communion with anyone else but the Serbs, and he had a beautiful wall icon of St Xenia of Petersburg painted at the Ss Peter and Paul Chapel in Antiochian Village even before Moscow canonised her because the ROCOR had already done it. There’s certainly a debt of gratitude there!

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As for tardy reports of pastoral changes, that’d be easy to fix. Each diocese would report weekly via a standardised computer form. If no changes, they’d simply check the “no changes” box. It’d take five minutes at best. Modern computer technology allows understaffed institutions to be just as efficient as the MP is… and we should use it! If a chancellor of a diocese refused to use it, well, it’d be time to replace the chancellor. “Use modern means or go home”… we don’t use quill pens anymore… ‘nuff said, end of story…

If Eliel is a dropout, we shouldn’t have him on any list for bishop… full stop. That’s the end of the story. David Brum is the author of the notorious (and anti-canonical and anti-Traditional) “Brum Doctrine”… that the Metropolitan of the OCA is a tin-pot dictator who can override the Holy Synod. Of course, that ain’t Orthodox, but what do you expect from someone who lacks a real Orthodox formation? He DOES have a full-bore papist formation. Of course, he doesn’t (and can’t) teach according to Orthodox formulations! Note well, the konvertsy drool over both paladins. The Centre wouldn’t consecrate either one of these champions as bishops… neither should we.

To put it simply, Storheim’s put the Church through enough grief. It’s time to depose him and pack him off to the Mountain, where he can’t bother any more kids. I’d bet even money that the Canadian courts would sign off on that one. It gets rid of a headache for all concerned, it acknowledges Storheim’s guilt, and it means that the Church accepts and respects Mr Justice Mainella’s assessment of Mr Storheim… that he lacks any shred of credibility. Besides, the Church should apologise publicly to Storheim’s victims… not only for the abuse, but also for the unfounded attacks on their credibility by Mr Gindin, Storheim’s legal mouthpiece. Yes, it means that the OCA will have to pony up for the damages caused… but that’s fair. In fact, it’s a licit use for the “widow’s mite”… whereas to use it to savage the victims in court was not.

My Cabinet not only keeps me informed, they keep me grounded. Note well that most of the konvertsy bloggers are “lone wolves”. In Orthodox terms, that’s really beyond the pale. Keep it centred and focused… the times ARE evil… many who look “good” are crook, and many who look “off” are good. Keep the jug at hand… it hasn’t got any less crank in the last 24…

BMD

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Ordered to Stand Trial… Fr James Dokos, Accused of Stealing from Church in Wauwatosa

01 throwing away money

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A former Milwaukee-area priest accused of stealing from his church will stand trial. On Wednesday morning, Fr James Dokos was in facing charges of felony theft. Prosecutors say that he took more than 100,000 USD (3.56 million Roubles. 109,000 CAD. 107,500 AUD. 75,000 Euros. 59,000 UK Pounds) from Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Wauwatosa WI when he was priest there. If convicted, Dokos faces up to 10 years in prison. He’ll be back in court in September… when he’s expected to enter a plea.

30 July 2014

Katie DeLong

Fox 6 Now

http://fox6now.com/2014/07/30/ordered-to-stand-trial-father-james-dokos-accused-of-stealing-from-church-in-wauwatosa/

Monday, 21 July 2014

“It’s Very Hard”: Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church Trying to Move on after Priest Accused of Embezzling

00 Mojum Kamki. Rogger Robber. 2010

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Bouncing back after an alleged embezzlement, Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Milwaukee WI is trying to revive itself after falling into a financial slump. This happens at the same time as a former priest faces charges of improperly spending thousands of dollars from a church trust fund. James Dokos faces a Class G felony charge of theft (embezzlement), value exceeding 10,000 USD (352,000 Roubles. 10,750 CAD. 10,650 AUD. 7,400 Euros. 5,850 UK Pounds), and he was a “no show” for his first two court appearances. Prosecutors accuse 62-year-old Dokos of tapping into an Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church trust fund… to the tune of about 100,000 USD (3.52 million Roubles. 107,500 CAD. 106,500 AUD. 74,000 Euros. 58,500 UK Pounds). The GOAA Chicago Metropolis transferred Dokos to Ss Peter and Paul Church in Glenview IL in 2012, his most recent parish.

Last month, the church placed Dokos on unpaid administrative leave and suspended him from his duties as parish priest at the church in Glenview. Members of Annunciation parish said that they’ve experienced a myriad of emotions since learning of the allegations against Dokos. One member said, “I’m just very saddened. It’s very hard”. Church member Despina Panos said, “He was very good to us. I don’t know. I still don’t believe it happened”. Current priest Fr Angelo Artemas said, “When we realised that there were financial difficulties here and that there was a trust involved, it was very disheartening and all these circumstances have been very sad for us. We are experiencing some financial difficulties”. Fr Angelo said that the alleged theft, carried out by someone so trusted within the church is an unfortunate thing, but he said that he has full trust in the court system, noting, “This is America. Everybody’s entitled to their defence as well, and our sincere prayers are with Fr Jim Dokos as well”. Others are looking toward their faith… praying justice is served. Panos said, “Only God knows the truth, and He’ll give us the answers”.

Lately, it’s been difficult to even get Dokos in front of a judge. He was a “no show” for his first two scheduled court appearances… claiming that he missed them due to car problems and an illness. He finally showed up for his initial court appearance on Friday, 18 July. As Dokos moves through the court system, members of Annunciation parish said that they’re just trying to move on. Church member Constantine Stamantelakys said, “We just really want to move on. We really come here to worship and believe in Jesus and that’s what it’s all about. We’ll survive”. The court ordered Dokos booked and released by 15.00 Saturday, 19 July. If he failed to appear, it’d issue a bench warrant for his arrest.

20 July 2014

Derica Williams

Fox6Now.com

http://fox6now.com/2014/07/20/its-very-hard-annunciation-greek-orthodox-church-trying-to-move-on-after-priest-accused-of-embezzling/

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Catholic Church Lawyer Details Cover-Up Claims on Sex Abuse

01 sweep under rug

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Editor:

This is a read n’ heed… our people act in the same way. I need only mention the names of Gleb Podmoshensky, Panteleimon Metropoulos, Isidore Brittain, Sam Greene, and Seraphim Storheim. The lies issued forth by the institutional church and by the goodthinkers are disgusting and without warrant. Toddler assholes like Rod Dreher should shut up about the Catholics… we do the same exact thing (sadly enough).

Note well that the OCA hasn’t given up on denying Storheim’s guilt… they’re wasting the donations of the faithful in a bootless attempt to clear a perv. You can believe Mr Justice Mainella or you can believe Jeff Gindin (Storheim’s shyster mouthpiece)… I believe the former… he found Storheim and his lawyer “without credibility”. I agree. We have a shit-spattered byre to clean and we have no call to point fingers. This story illustrates a crank institutional culture that we share in its entirety. We’ve fallen and we REFUSE to get up. After all, didn’t the OCA give Peterson a “Get Out of Jail Free” card? ‘Nuff said…

BMD

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A canon lawyer alleging a widespread cover-up of clergy sex misconduct in the Archdiocese of St Paul and Minneapolis made her most detailed claims yet, accusing archbishops and their top staff of lying to the public and of ignoring the American bishops’ pledge to have no tolerance of priests who abuse. Jennifer Haselberger, who spent five years as Archbishop John Nienstedt’s archivist and top adviser on Roman Catholic church law, also charged that the church used a chaotic system of record-keeping that helped conceal the backgrounds of guilty priests who remained on assignment. Haselberger said that when she started examining records in 2008 of clergy under restrictions over sex misconduct with adults and children she found “nearly 20″ of the 48 men still in ministry.

She said that she repeatedly warned Nienstedt and his aides about the risk of these placements, but they took action only in one case. Because she raised alarms, she said that they eventually shut her out of meetings about clerical misconduct. She resigned last year. Haselberger wrote in an affidavit released Tuesday in a civil lawsuit brought by attorney Jeff Anderson, “Had there been any serious desire to implement change, it could’ve been done quickly and easily with the stroke of a single pen. The archbishop’s administrative authority in his diocese is basically unlimited”.

For years, the archdiocese pledged that it was following the national bishops’ policy, known as the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People”, which lays out a series of requirements… from conducting background checks to alerting parishioners about offender priests and barring guilty clergy from parish assignments. Archbishop Harry Flynn, who led the Minneapolis archdiocese until retiring in 2008, was an architect of the 12-year-old plan. However, Haselberger said that she discovered in 2008 that the archdiocese hadn’t conducted background checks on most priests since the early 1990s.

When she drew attention to the lapse, she said that they told her to eliminate references to the date of background checks in a form pledging a priest is suitable for ministry. Haselberger said that she found priests’ records scattered in storage locations throughout the archdiocese, including the history of allegations against them, their compliance with the monitoring programme, and evidence of their misconduct. She said, “The presence of so many files in so many different locations meant that often important information didn’t make its way into the priest’s personnel file”.

She also said the archdiocese gave inaccurate information to auditors hired by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to monitor dioceses’ compliance with the child protection plan. Haselberger noted that the auditors didn’t have access to church files to check whether the archdiocese’s report matched the records. She said, “They would’ve found out that it didn’t”. Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens said in a statement that Haselberger’s “recollections aren’t always shared by others within the archdiocese”. He said that the archdiocese was taking steps toward “greater transparency and accountability”.

Since the clergy abuse scandal began in 1984, then, erupted into a national crisis in 2002, the American church has been flooded with revelations… from civil lawsuits, grand jury inquiries, and the bishops’ own research… about how dioceses consistently put the interests of the church above victims. Still, Haselberger’s accusations stand out because of her credentials and timing. She’s the highest-level official from an American diocese to make claims of a cover-up. A canon lawyer educated at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, she served as a judge on church tribunals in Minnesota and was trained through the US bishops’ conference on child safety and monitoring guilty clergy. In addition, Haselberger is coming forward in what Anderson calls “real time”. The bulk of previous disclosures about American bishops sheltering abusers were made years, if not decades, after the wrongdoing. Haselberger alleges a cover-up is happening now in Minnesota.

When Haselberger’s allegations first became public in a series of reports last September by Minnesota Public Radio, the archdiocese initially defended its record on preventing abuse. Since then, Nienstedt apologised for any mistakes and said in a deposition that he hid some information on accused clergy from police. A task force Nienstedt formed to review how the archdiocese handled abuse claims released a report in April conceding “serious shortcomings” by church officials. Haselberger said that the Rev Kevin McDonough… the archdiocese’s vicar general or top aide for 17 years, and brother of White House chief of staff Denis McDonough… never accepted the discipline plan American bishops adopted in 2002 that streamlined church law so that the dioceses could bar guilty priests from ministry or remove them from the priesthood altogether.

McDonough continued his previous approach of striking agreements with accused offenders to remain priests but stay away, sometimes providing them extra payments to do so. McDonough oversaw clergy misconduct cases until last September. Haselberger wrote, “He explained to me his position that dismissal wasn’t the right solution for the church”. Haselberger said that McDonough called the archdiocese’s monitoring system for priests guilty of sex misconduct “state of the art”. However, she said that the program relied heavily on self-reporting by guilty priests with no verification of what they reported. In one example, she said that Rev Robert Kapoun, accused of molesting several young boys, is enrolled in the monitoring program, but spends the winter months in Florida without oversight. Another priest, just out of prison after his conviction for victimising an adult woman during counselling, was placed in a retired priests’ home where minors worked. Haselberger said that the archdiocese learned of the problem from the priest’s probation officer. She said that when top Nienstedt lieutenant Rev Peter Laird learned about the problem, he said that the young people should be fired. Laird resigned as vicar general last September. He didn’t respond Tuesday to an e-mail request for comment.

Meanwhile, Nienstedt announced on 1 July that allegations were made against him several months ago of inappropriate sexual behaviour and he’d hired a firm to investigate. Nienstedt told the Catholic magazine Commonweal that he’d never engaged in sexual misconduct, nor had he made any sexual advances. Haselberger told Commonweal that the firm interviewed her, and investigators have about 10 sworn statements alleging sexual impropriety by Nienstedt. Last year, Minnesota lawmakers temporarily abolished time limits on civil lawsuits over child sex abuse, for three years. Similar windows for lawsuits in other states have resulted in total payouts by dioceses in the tens of millions of dollars and more.

15 July 2014

Rachel Zoll

Associated Press

http://www.newschannel10.com/story/26024705/church-lawyer-details-cover-up-claims-on-sex-abuse

Editor:

We’ve done all of the above… and more. Look at how Paffhausen defended Ray Velencia… I’d say that the public record of the Koumentakos case speaks eloquently of both of these men. Also, don’t forget how JP allowed Ray, a priest under suspension, to present himself as a priest in good standing at a GOAA parish, and to sue Fr Michael Regan, a priest in good standing. Now, that’s something that’s never occurred amongst the RCs… a suspended priest suing a priest in good standing… that’s special, ain’t it? No, we have NOTHING to chortle about… we’re in WORSE shape than the RCs are, and we won’t get anywhere until we admit it and stop defending the plug-uglies.

However, must we drain the cup to the bottom? I hope not…

BMD

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