ISTANBUL (Anadolu Agency)—Turkey’s Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew repeated his call to the Turkish government for the reopening of the Heybeliada Halki Seminary, saying that the religion was entering a dangerous phase due to a lack of proper religious officials.
Bartholomew was speaking at an iftar event organized by the Istanbul Müfti office, with Müfti Rahmi Yaran present, where the patriarch mentioned the closed Halki Seminary, which was once the main theological school for the Eastern Orthodox Church’s Patriarchate of Constantinople, until the Turkish government enacted laws banning private institutions of higher education.
“We would like to mention at this time the importance of qualified religious officials in the society. Religious officials should always be properly educated and set examples based on their trainings throughout their life. We would like to emphasize the gravity of the situation of the Halki Seminary, closed since 1971, now that we are entering a stage of danger by lacking qualified religious officials,” the patriarch said.
Previous efforts have also focused on the Heybeliada Halki Seminary to be reopened, with the subject remaining on Turkey’s political agenda. The realization of plans, however, has still failed to materialize.
Bartholomew also highlighted the need for dialogue between religious officials, adding that attending annual iftars (the dinner eaten by Muslims after sunset during Ramadan) was “a concrete show of love and respect for our Muslim brothers.”
Religious Affairs Directorate head Mehmet Görmez was also in attendance, and gave a speech following the prayer. Görmez said the need for thoughtful individuals and religious officials is evermore present now, as most political aspirations have failed to take care of the world.
“For years we cannot have joyful Ramadans, with all that is happening in Islamic nations and the Middle East region. The reason for all the incidents occurring in Baghdat and Cairo and Damascus cannot be Islam. The reason for all those can only be tempering with the Islamic people, the occupations, the exploitation of those lands, and the racism,” Görmez told the guests.
Representatives of the Catholic Church of Armenian and Syriac communities were also present at the event.