U.S. urges Turkey to reopen Greek seminary on 50th anniversary of closure

The U.S. Department of State on Thursday released a statement on the 50th anniversary of the closing of the Halki Seminary in Istanbul, urging the Turkish government to reopen the institution which served as the main school of theology of the Eastern Orthodox Church’s Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

Below is the full statement by the State Department.

Today marks 50 years since the Turkish Constitutional Court ruled that all institutions of higher education must either nationalise or close, resulting in the closure of the Theological School of Halki, a seminary of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of the Eastern Orthodox Church. The Halki Seminary had operated for 127 years, and its closing deprived the Ecumenical Patriarchate of a training school for Orthodox clergy in Turkey, its home for 1,690 years. Since Halki’s closure, those wishing to become Orthodox clergy have been forced to go abroad for their training.

The United States continues to urge the Turkish government to respect the right to freedom of religion or belief as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and allow the reopening of the Halki Seminary. Moreover, we call upon the government of Turkey to allow all religious groups to again train their clergy within the country.

(This article was originally published in the Kathimerini newspaper and is reproduced by permission.)