Source: New York Daily News
By Celeste Katz
(Many thanks to our Erik Badia for his help with this report:)
Former Gov. George Pataki joined NY-1 congressional hopeful George Demos and clergy at the former site of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in an attempt to get stalled negotiations between the Port Authority and the church going again.
“I’m calling on the Port Authority officials to sit down with the church leadership,” Pataki said as he stood with Demos and Bishop Andonios of Phasiane.
“We must rebuild St. Nicholas and we must do it here at the World Trade Center site,” Pataki said. “It’s incredibly disappointing to me that almost nine years later, not only is it not underway, but there haven’t been negotiations between church officials and the Port Authority for over a year.”
Bishop Andonios said he is hopeful that with the help of Pataki and Demos, they can move talks forward on St. Nicholas: “It is a house of worship not simply for the Greek Orthodox community, but a monument to the 3,000 souls of all faiths that lost their lives [on September 11th],” he said.
He also accused the Port Authority of walking away from negotiations.
Demos, who has made himself a champion of the church as he fights two other Republicans for the chance to face incumbent Rep. Tim Bishop in November, called the situation “outrageous.”
“This church must rise again and it’s our obligation to ensure that it rises from the ashes,” he said. “The time has come for the Port Authority to do the right thing, stand up and rebuild that church,” Demos said.
Read on to hear what Pataki and Demos had to say about the proposed Park51 mosque and cultural center in the Ground Zero area…
“Building the mosque so close to this hallowed ground is the wrong thing to do,” Pataki said.
“I think there are a lot of grave concerns,” Pataki said. “We don’t know the source of the funding, will it be from foreign governments?… It’s not at all transparent.”
He said the leaders of the mosque project claim to want to build bridges, but are being inflexible: “I find it amazing that the leadership is so intolerant, so failing to understand the emotion of those of us who were here on Sept. 11th,” he said, “Why does it have to be at the World Trade Center site?”
“They haven’t answered that question and I don’t think they can, because I question whether or not in fact it is being constructed in the name of tolerance and outreach,” Pataki said.
Demos also spoke out against the mosque’s proposed site.
“I’ve spoken out against the appropriateness of the mosque, not it’s legal right to be built,” Demos said, “It’s not an issue of religious freedom. It’s an issue of sensitivity to the families of 9/11.”