Russian patriarch backs Halki Seminary re-opening

NKARA, Turkey

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill called on Turkish authorities on Monday (July 6th) to re-open the Greek Orthodox Seminary on the island of Heybeliada (Halki in Greek), in a bid to strengthen religious freedoms and minority rights. His comment followed talks with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey.

The seminary, the only facility available to the Eastern Orthodox Church to train clergy in Turkey, was closed down in 1971 after legislation was adopted bringing higher education institutions under state control. Last month, Culture Minister Ertugrul Gunay said the government is considering whether to re-open the seminary.

On Saturday, Kirill met with Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew in Istanbul, in a bid to mend strained relations between the two Orthodox Churches. Moscow refuses to recognise Bartholomew as spiritual leader of 250 million Orthodox Christians in the world.

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