“We are losing sleep over Halki Seminary”

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew reacted against the fact that Halki Seminary is still closed. He stated that they welcome any idea for solution.

Lack of a center for raising clerics is a major problem for Christians in Turkey. Halki Seminary, one of the most important seminaries for Orthodox world, was opened in1844 and raised clerics who served all around the world. It was closed in 1971 because of “single religion” policy of Turkey. 

Despite many calls and initiatives for opening the seminary, no concrete step has been taken so far. Often causing international discussions, the seminary is one of the issues that causes criticism against Turkey concerning freedom of belief. 

In recent years, several talks had been held for opening the school and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stated that there is no legal obstacle for opening. However, no step has been taken for opening the seminary. 

Despite this is a right protected by Treaty of Lausanne, Erdoğan pointed out “reciprocity” and mentioned the problem of mosques and mufti in Athens. In Athens, Chipras administration took the necessary steps for mosques and initiated the construction. However, no step has been taken for Halki Seminary. 

The Call

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has been repeatedly making calls for opening the seminary. Recently, he talked about the same issue at the event that was held on the occasion of 40th anniversary of Greek newspapers İHO.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew said: “We are losing sleep over the fact that Halki Seminary has been closed for 46 years.”

Referring to international conventions, Bartholomew said: “Our sole purpose is to keep our foundations and institutions functioning. The is our goal for 25 years. The main problem that make us lose sleep is the seminary. Our greatest desire is to open the seminary, which is closed for 46 years. We are making a call to Turkish state to open this important Christian center that was closed due to unjust policies of the past. We welcome any support. With the opening of the seminary, our vested right will be restored.”

The most important development took place in 2013. With the arrangement for returning properties of non-Muslim foundations, 190-acres coppice forest constituting the seminary complex was given Aya Triada Monastery Foundation to which the seminary is affiliated.

Ready for opening

While Greek society continue its efforts, the preparations for opening the seminary are completed. Within last 3 years, the architectural plans of the seminary has been drawn and curriculum is planned.

The school is planned to offer master-level education consisting of 3+2 years and accept around 30 students. Seminary's capacity is 150 students. 

The seminary also has a library with over 80,000 books. A copy of Aristophanes' comedies is also in the collection; published in 1484, this book is one of the oldest printed books in the world.  


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Uygar Gültekin