The Theological School of Halki was forcibly closed down by Turkish authorities in 1971. Since its closure, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has had to send the young men from its community desiring to enter the priesthood to one of the theological schools in Greece. In many instances, they do not return, given the onerous restrictions in getting work permits and the general climate of intimidation that unfortunately still prevails in Turkey.
Despite promises by the Turkish government to reopen our theological school, there has been no progress. Left unresolved, the administrative functioning and the very future of the Ecumenical Patriarchate is imperiled. The closing of the Halki Seminary is a direct restriction of the religious freedom of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Orthodox Christians of Turkey; its reopening should be a priority for the U.S. government in its dealings with Turkey, and for all governments that are committed to the defense of religious freedom worldwide.
“Ecumenical Patriarch Appeals Again Halki Seminary Reopening,” International Christian Concern, December 13, 2021:
12/13/2021 Turkey (International Christian Concern) – Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has yet again made an appeal to Turkey to reopen the Halki Theological School, which was closed in 1971 as a result of affiliation requirements….
A Constitutional Court ruling that banned private universities unless they held a state institution affiliation closed the island seminary. The school is owned by the Monastery of the Holy Trinity. Conferences and international campaigns have been made over the years with no movement by the Turkish government to allow its activities to resume.
Bartholomew commented at a conference on a 1920 Encyclical that promoted church reunification saying, the seminary “has contributed a lot to Christendom and civilization, the Letters and humanity.” He continued, “It is certain that the suspension of our School has affected the Ecumenical Movement. The debate on the 1920 Encyclical provides us with the opportunity to petition the honorable government of (Turkey) to allow the School to operate again.”