New York Governor Andrew Cuomo sent an unexpected Tweet on Thursday afternoon announcing the resumption of the construction at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine, which was destroyed during the September 11th terrorist attacks.
Cuomo tweeted: “I’m excited to announce w/ Archbishop Elpidophoros that construction will resume on St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church at @_WTCOfficial. The rebuilding of St. Nicholas Church, destroyed on 9/11, is a moment of healing, not only for the Greek Orthodox community but for all NYers.”
Cuomo’s announcement comes approximately one month following that of Archbishop Elpidophoros, who said that St. Nicholas Church would open in 2021 on the 20th anniversary of 9/11.
“In 2021, on the 20th anniversary of 9/11, we will open this church,” Elpidophoros said. “But we will open it with prayer, we will open it with Thanksgiving, and with a welcome for all people.”
Elpidophoros took to Twitter on Thursday evening to echo Cuomo’s announcement while reiterating his own.
Governor Cuomo’s office shared a video of his meeting with Archbishop Elpidophoros via YouTube.
The rebuilding of the church has been plagued by two decades of bureaucratic wrangling between various state and municipal governments. Financial scandals have also ensued within the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, which is handling the construction of the church that originally served Greek immigrant families in Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
The original church building was constructed around 1832, when it served as a residence and later a tavern before parishioners purchased the property.
The new church has an estimated cost of $80 million. Less than half of that cost had been raised before construction abruptly stopped in 2017 after the Archdiocese failed to pay the main contractor – Skanska.
It was eventually revealed that Church leaders “misappropriated segregated or restricted funds,” that were raised specifically for St. Nicholas. Furthermore, former Archbishop Demetrios of America ordered changes to the existing construction — specifically to the dome — which he wanted to glow at night. His ordered changes reportedly increased costs by millions of dollars.
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