New York, Aug.18 (ANI): The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America has criticised New York officials for concentrating their efforts on getting plans approved for building a controversial mosque near Ground Zero, and turning their backs on facilitating the reconstruction of the only church destroyed in the 9/11 attacks.
The tiny, four-story St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church was destroyed in 2001 when one of the World Trade Center towers fell on top of it. Though nobody from the church was hurt in the attack, the congregation has for the past eight years been trying to rebuild its house of worship.While the mosque project had cleared red tape earlier this month, negotiations between the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the church remains stalled for the past year-and will not be revived, according to government officials.
An archdiocese official said Tuesday that the situation has created "consternation" for those still struggling to jump-start talks over the church.We have people that are saying, why isn't our church being rebuilt and why is there ... such concern for people of the mosque?" Father Alex Karloutsos, assistant to the archbishop, told FoxNews.com.
He said "religious freedom" would allow a place of worship for any denomination to be built, but accused officials with the Port Authority of making no effort to help move the congregation's project along.
"Unfortunately, they have just been silent-dead silent, actually," said Karloutsos, whose father was ordained at St. Nicholas. "They just simply forgot about the church."
The archdiocese and Port Authority offer sharply conflicting accounts of where things went wrong.
The Port Authority has previously claimed the church was making additional demands-like wanting the 20 million dollars up front and wanting to review plans for the surrounding area. They say the church can still proceed on its own if it wishes.
Karloutsos, however, called the Port Authority's claims "propaganda" and said the church has complied with all conditions. He said the government should honor agreements that date back to 2004, under former New York Governor George Pataki.
Pataki, speaking with Fox News on Tuesday, agreed that the church should be rebuilt. (ANI)