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Archdiocese Continues the Effort to Rebuild St. Nicholas at Ground Zero

NEW YORK – The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, together with the parish of St. Nicholas, served notice on Dec. 6 to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PA), the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, the Empire State Development Corporation and associated individuals of their intention to sue these agencies over their actions that have prevented the St. Nicholas church, destroyed at Ground Zero on 9/11, from being rebuilt. Under New York State law, a 60-day notice is required before certain claims can be filed against the PA.

The legal papers stated that “This claim arises out of the arrogance, bad faith, and fraudulent conduct of the Port Authority in preventing Saint Nicholas from re-building its church at Ground Zero after it was crushed by a falling tower in the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.” It goes on to state that in March 2009, the PA “summarily disavowed a long-standing agreement” to rebuild the church at 130 Liberty Street.

On the eve of the Feast of St. Nicholas, Dec. 5, Archbishop Demetrios of America led a vespers service near the site of St. Nicholas at Ground Zero. Despite the very cold weather, the very solemn and moving service was attended by nearly one thousand faithful from the greater New York metropolitan area who joined the St. Nicholas parishioners in a show of solidarity. They came together in worship and prayer to honor their revered Saint and demonstrate their resolve and conviction to re-built the historic St. Nicholas church at Ground Zero.

Archbishop Demetrios, in his sermon to those gathered at the Ground Zero construction site, expressed this unwavering commitment of the Church in re-building St. Nicholas, and the faith, confidence, and trust that with the help of the Almighty God this awesome endeavor will be realized.

Below is the full text of the Statement of Archbishop Demetrios of America on the occasion of the Vespers Service.

STATEMENT OF HIS EMINENCE ARCHBISHOP DEMETRIOS
ON THE OCCASION OF THE SERVICE AT GROUND ZERO
MARKING THE FEAST OF ST. NICHOLAS
December 5, 2010


On the eve of the Feast of St. Nicholas, I take this opportunity to warmly greet and gratefully thank all those people who especially today have witnessed their devotion to St. Nicholas but also expressed in very tangible ways, despite the adversities, their wholehearted support and steadfast resolve for the rebuilding of the Church of St. Nicholas on this most hallowed ground.    

Almost 10 years ago, 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 on the historic St. Nicholas Church, it destroyed almost every trace of the building, the only house of worship destroyed that day.  Opened in 1916 by 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 would stop, light a candle and spend a few moments in prayer and meditation.

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and the parish of St. Nicholas remain firmly committed to the rebuilding of the church at Ground Zero, honoring the long-standing agreement with the LMDC and Port Authority. On this most solemn occasion, we once again affirm our commitment to rebuild here, in this sacred place, the Church of St. Nicholas which will have a greater scope and outreach than a simple parish house of worship.  The rebuilding of St. Nicholas on this site will be an appropriate memorial in New York City to the 3,000 innocent people of all Faiths who lost their lives that day and also serve as a center of peace and reconciliation.  

Trusting in Almighty God, we are confident that we shall be successful in this awesome endeavor, and we call upon all people of goodwill and faith to join us in the rebuilding of this church which will stand as a dynamic testament to the healing power of love and a symbol of the lofty ideals of this great nation of ours.  I convey my warmest paternal greetings and best wishes and invoke upon all of you the abundant blessings of the Almighty.

+ Archbishop Demetrios of America