The growing controversy over the construction of a mosque in close proximity to Ground Zero has raised a new awareness of the plight of the faithful of Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, which was completely destroyed when World Trade Center Tower Two collapsed on it on 9/11.
On Wednesday, August 18, 2010, Fox News aired a special report on the church, transforming what primarily had been a local/regional issue into a national one. The following day, Fox reported that Port Authority officials alleged that the issue was “dead.”
The following day, the New York City-based Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America issued a statement concerning the church, the complete text of which reads as follows.
“As is well known, on September 11, 2001, our city and nation suffered a terrorist attack of unparalleled proportions. In addition to the tragic and horrific loss of almost 3,000 innocent victims, a number of whom were members of our own community, the world witnessed the unimaginable collapse of the Twin Towers. When the second Tower fell, it landed on and erased all traces of the Greek Orthodox Christian Church of Saint Nicholas, the only house of worship destroyed that day. Opened in 1916 by a group of Greek immigrants, the church not only served the spiritual needs of its parishioners but was also a sacred space in which people of all ethnic and religious backgrounds working in the surrounding area would often stop, light a candle and spend a few moments in prayer and reflection.
“Following the events of 9/11, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and the Saint Nicholas parish fully cooperated and worked closely with the relevant authorities. Former Governor George Pataki pledged without reservation his support for rebuilding in the belief that it was a necessary part of the healing of New York City and of our nation. Early on, as plans were being formulated for the reconstruction of the area, the Church agreed to relocate and rebuild its house of worship at a new locale to facilitate the envisioned design for the overall site. In 2004, the authorities proposed that the new edifice be built at 130 Liberty Street, a parcel on the same block as the original site, and an agreement was reached between the Archdiocese and the Port Authority. Four successive LMDC/Port Authority administrations honored this mutual agreement which entailed extensive ongoing work and planning on the part of all parties. All site plans for the area which the LMDC/Port Authority released to the public show Saint Nicholas at this new locale. Regrettably, the latest Port Authority administration in 2009 unexpectedly and arbitrarily reneged on this agreement and as a result, the Archdiocese and St. Nicholas parish are suddenly offered no viable option. LMDC/Port Authority has refused to meet with us. In the meantime the LMDC/Port Authority has excavated the original site without our consent, rendering it unusable, in flagrant violation of our legal rights.
“The Archdiocese and parish leadership remain firmly committed to the rebuilding of the church honoring the long standing agreement with LMDC/Port Authority. Confident that we have acted in good faith and trusting in Almighty God, we expect that justice will prevail and that we will be successful in this sacred endeavor.”
To find links to news broadcasts, to learn more about Saint Nicholas Church, or to donate for rebuilding efforts, visit www.goarch.org, or text REBUILD to 27722 and $10 will be added to your mobile phone bill and it will be earmarked for the Saint Nicholas rebuilding.