On February 14, 2011, Saint Nicholas Church and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court in Manhattan against the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey as well as other agencies and individuals, in order to foster the rebuilding at Ground Zero of the only house of worship destroyed by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
The Parish and the Archdiocese would have preferred to rebuild the Church without litigation. However, they have been unable to do so since the Port Authority renounced a long-standing agreement with the Church to rebuild at Ground Zero, seized the Church’s land, barred the Church from access to it, and has refused to talk or meet with the Church or the Archdiocese. This legal action has been taken not only as a last resort to restore the property and rebuilding rights of Saint Nicholas Church, but also to fulfill the common vision of civil and church authorities that the Church be rebuilt as a place of prayer and meditation at Ground Zero for all people.
While the Port Authority has claimed publicly that it is currently in discussions with the Archdiocese in order to foster the rebuilding effort, in fact, in March of 2009 it summarily disavowed its agreement with the Archdiocese to rebuild Saint Nicholas at 130 Liberty Street, a site chosen by the Port Authority, which is adjacent to the original location. Since that time, the Port Authority has rebuffed all efforts by the Church to work with it regarding the rebuilding.
Contrary to working cooperatively with the Archdiocese and the Parish, a posture which had prevailed between 9/11 and the Port Authority’s abrupt turnabout in March 2009, the Port Authority – without permission, notice, or any legal justification whatsoever – has sent its bulldozers onto both the land still owned by the Church at its original site at 155 Cedar Street, and the land provided to the Church at 130 Liberty Street pursuant to its agreement with the Port Authority. The Port Authority has conducted extensive excavation and other construction work that has kept the Church off of its own property, and has rendered both sites unbuildable by the Church without substantial remedial work.
The Parish and the Archdiocese hope that through this lawsuit, just and fair rulings will be made allowing for the prompt re-construction of Saint Nicholas at Ground Zero, not only as a church serving its flock, but also as a greater ministry bringing peace, reconciliation and a sacred space of recollection and remembrance for all people visiting Ground Zero.