END TO STAND-OFF IN SIGHT FOR AMERICAN NUNS--- REP. MALONEY, STEPHANOPOULOS, FATHER POTAPOV REPORT BACK FROM JERICHO: TRIP IS SUCCESS
NEW YORK, NY -- Today, in front of the Isaiah Wall in Manhattan, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Ms. Nikki Stephanopoulos (mother of Sister Maria), and Archbishop Mark and Father Victor Potapov of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russian (ROCOR) reported extremely positive news from their trip to visit two American nuns under siege in a monastery in Jericho. This week a delegation of family members, church officials, and representatives from Congressional offices traveled to the Middle East to investigate the situation and meet with Palestinian and U.S. officials.
"Because I believe so strongly that no one should conduct forceful and illegal take-overs of property as sacred as religious buildings, I felt it was imperative that we send a delegation of concerned Americans to Jericho," Maloney said today. "And, today, I am very pleased to announce that our delegation returns with good news. Because of the efforts of family members, church officials, and representatives of Congressional offices, two American nuns are well on their way to freedom.
"It is my most sincere hope that the positive developments generated this weekend are not dismantled by any foes to fair and just decision making," Maloney continued. "Sister Maria and Sister Xenia have lived in dark, bleak, lonely conditions for over six weeks. Tonight, it appears they will hear that their protest has born fruit. We expect to learn that the "Red" Russian Orthodox Church and the Palestinian Authority will grant free access for members of both Churches to the property at the Jericho Monastery. This is great news. There is no more prodigious outcome for the nuns' noble efforts."
On January 15, 2000, at the behest of the Moscow-based ''Red'' Russian Orthodox Church, armed Palestinian police officers invaded the grounds of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia's (ROCOR) Jericho Garden Monastery forcing monks, workmen, and nuns off the property. Sister Xenia Cesena and Sister Maria Stephanopoulos refused to leave. Surrounded by gun-toting soldiers and cut-off from the outside world, the nuns are now in the sixth week of their stand-off.