Patriarch urges Ankara to reopen Halki seminary
The spiritual leader of the Orthodox Church, Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios, yesterday repeated his call for the Turkish government to allow the Halki seminary to reopen. Ahead of a meeting with Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos in Athens, Vartholomaios said the Patriarchate needs the theological school on the islet of Halki to open again so it can train clerics and theologians. The patriarch said it was unacceptable for the seminary to have been set up during Ottoman rule but for it to have now remained closed for 44 years under democratic rule in Turkey. Last week, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) suggested in its 2015 Annual Report that Ankara had failed to show the “political will” necessary to allow the seminary to operate again. There were unconfirmed reports earlier this year that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he was prepared to allow the Halki school to reopen if Greek authorities allowed a mosque to operate in Thessaloniki. Vartholomaios also held talks with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Athens yesterday.