US Supports Reopening of Halki Seminary in Turkey

The United States on Thursday reaffirmed its support for the reopening of the Halki Orthodox seminary in Turkey, one day after the symbolic visit by Greek PM Alexis Tsipras.

Sam Brownback, the US Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, told the Athens News Agency (AMNA) that the US has always supported the reopening of Halki.

“We have supported the reopening for quite some time. I cannot tell you that progress has been made in achieving this goal. But we argue that the school must be open, and we will continue to support it,” Brownback stated, according to AMNA.

The Orthodox seminary has been closed since 1971, when Turkey nationalized all private institutions of higher learning.

On Wednesday, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras expressed their shared hope that the seminary will reopen soon.

Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual leader of the world’s Greek Orthodox Christians, expressed his hope that the day when the theological school opens its doors again “is not far distant.”

In comments made during the Turkish visit, Tsipras said that a decision to reopen the seminary “would be evidence of friendship, mutual understanding and brotherhood.”

The Greek prime minister said that protecting the rights of religious minorities was a self-evident obligation, “and not up for negotiation.”

“Religious faith should bring people together, not divide them,” Tsipras concluded.