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. The Order hopes that these remarks by Pompeo and Brownback will lead to concerted efforts to compel Turkish authorities to allow the seminary to reopen.
“US urge[s] ‘immediate reopening’ of Halki seminary,” Ekathimerini, June 22, 2019:
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has urged the “immediate reopening” of the Theological School of Halki, off the coast of Istanbul, which Turkey shut down in 1971.
“We urge the immediate reopening of the Halki seminary,” Pompeo said during introductory remarks at the presentation of the 2018 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom in Washington, DC, late on Friday.
Sam Brownback, the US’s ambassador at large for international religious freedom, also mentioned the Greek Orthodox seminary in his introductory remarks.
“The government of President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan continues to keep the Halki seminary closed. We call on them to let it be reopened,” he said….