GOARCH - April 23, 1998

Cardinal O’Connor Responds
to Archbishop Spyridon’s Call to Action on Desecration

New York - His Eminence John Cardinal O'Connor, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York, has responded to the call to action of His Eminence Archbishop Spyridon, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church of America, on the latest attacks against the Greek Orthodox community of Constantinople (Istanbul),Turkey.

Archbishop Spyridon's appeal concerning the desecration of over 70 graves, at the Greek Orthodox Cemetery of St. Eleftherios in the Kurtulus district of Istanbul evoked an emotional and substantive letter from Cardinal O'Connor. In a letter dated April 15, 1998, the Cardinal wrote to the Archbishop:

"I was utterly horrified to read your letter of April 3, describing the desecration of graves in Istanbul. What a heinous thing to do, particularly in the last days of Lent, ll of us were joined in prayer for the justice and peace given us in Christ Jesus.

As we now join in affirming again our most sacred creed 'Christ is risen! He is truly risen!' rest assured that my prayers are with His All Holiness, the Ecumenical Patriarch, the Orthodox and all Christians of Istanbul, the families of the dead who were disturbed and you, at this terrible time."

Cardinal O'Connor also made a direct offering of $10,000 to the Ecumenical Patriarch through the Archbishop, hand delivered by the Ecumenical Officer of the Catholic Archdiocese, for use in restoring the damaged cemetery.

His Eminence, in a personal phone call, expressed the deep gratitude of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese and, as Exarch of the Ecumenical Throne, the appreciation of His All Holiness, for the love, support and generous gift of the Cardinal and the Roman Catholic faithful of New York.

In a related story, the nationally broadcast Fox News Channel televised a taped interview with Archbishop Spyridon in prime time, on Holy Friday, April 17, concerning not only the desecration of the cemetery, but the recent attacks against the Greek Orthodox Community of Constantinople. The transcript of that interview will be made available in the forthcoming edition of the Orthodox Observer.

  April 23, 1998 ]