Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
As the Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, we address you in the love of Jesus Christ our Lord as we approach the anniversary of the tragic events of September 11, 2001. It is through the power of the Life-giving Cross and the glorious Resurrection that we offer words of comfort and strength on this day of memorial, recognizing the deep pain that surfaces as we mark the passage of one year. The arrival of this date evokes a myriad of painful thoughts, emotions, and images.
Across our nation and throughout the world, people from all religions, races, and creeds remember the lives of those lost in the senseless and cowardly acts of terrorism which took place on American soil one year ago. As the Body of Christ and the Holy Archdiocese of America, we offer our prayers for the souls of all those innocently killed and for their families who continue to mourn their loss. We ask that on Sunday, September 8, a one-year memorial service be conducted in all our parishes throughout our country at the end of the Divine Liturgy. Let us offer prayers for the eternal memory and blessed repose of the souls of the victims of the barbaric attack of September 11 and of those who heroically fell in the line of duty attempting to help these victims.
As an Archdiocese and as a nation, we have closely experienced the devastation caused by the terrorist acts of September 11. The anguish left in their wake has been particularly felt among our own Greek Orthodox community in America. We have lost parishioners, family members, and one of our historic parishes, the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, which was next to the Twin Towers. We take solace knowing that we have grieved not as individuals hopelessly scattered across America, but as a family united in the Body of Christ. We have lived and breathed the words of the Apostle Paul, who wrote "that the members [of the body] should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it" (1 Corinthians 12:25-26).
In recalling the tragedy of September 11, we recognize our human impulse to feel anger towards the perpetrators who senselessly took the lives of thousands of innocent people. Yet, we are also mindful of the fact that in the aftermath of September 11, we continue to experience all that is worthy and good in the human race. Who can forget the tremendous outpouring of love and support in the wake of the tragic events of last year? Who can count the innumerable acts of charity and philanthropy exhibited by people across our nation and throughout the world following the chaos and destruction in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania? Who can explain the manner in which, on that tragic date one year ago, seemingly perfect strangers walking in streets across America suddenly realized their true identity as spiritual brothers and sisters, children of God? Who can ignore the amazing and generous offerings and the unwavering determination of people to raise from the ruins where the old Church stood, a new Church with a universal mission?
The passing of one year has demonstrated to us all how perfectly beautiful the human race is when embraced by the power of love, and how courageous humanity becomes when stirred by the conviction of faith. During the past twelve months, we have witnessed the transformation of ugly hatred into beautiful compassion, the metamorphosis of anger into hope, the movement from loss to gain, and the obliteration of fear in the promise of love. We stand humbled in the awesome presence of Almighty God, who time and again demonstrates His great love toward humankind. This is our God who revealed to us once and for all the immensity of His love through the sacrificial offering of His Only-begotten Son Jesus Christ, who endured the agony of the Cross so that we might be granted freedom from fear, liberation from anguish, and access to a life without end. Remembering the victory of the Cross, we are challenged this September 11 to rest in the confidence of the words of the Lord: "For God so loved the world that He gave His Only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
May the memory of the innocent victims of September 11, 2001, be eternal; may the protection, the support, and the blessings of God be present in the lives of the families of the victims; and may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.
With paternal love in Christ,
Archbishop of America
Metropolitan of Krinis
Presiding Hierarch of Chicago
Metropolitan of Dardanelles
Presiding Hierarch of San Francisco
Metropolitan of Ainou
Presiding Hierarch of Pittsburgh
Metropolitan of Aneon
Presiding Hierarch of Boston
Metropolitan of Proikonisos
Presiding Hierarch of Denver
Bishop of Atlanta
Bishop of Detroit
The encyclical can be found on the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America website.