Time ‘right’ to reopen Halki
ISTANBUL - Anatolia News Agency
The Greek community is hopeful that Halki will reopen, says Lambriniadis. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL
Although no date has been given, Istanbul’s Halki Greek Orthodox Seminary is ready to reopen after being closed for four decades, a senior cleric has said. “Let the school be opened however our state deems fitting.”
“Everything is ready for the reopening of the seminary. No specific pledge or date has been given to us, but we believe the time has come for it because public opinion, the media, the state and even the opposition are ready. We are hopeful, excited and waiting,” Elpidophoros Lambriniadis, metropolitan of Bursa and chief priest of the Halki Seminary on Heybeliada island, recently told Anatolia news agency. “We believe that the time has come; however our state sees it, they should act thusly.”
No independence demands
Lambriniadis said the school had always been under the regulations of the Ministry of Education. “We never requested to be an independent school or not to be under any regulation. Let the school be opened in any way our state and education laws deem fitting. It does not make any difference for us whether the Higher Education Board (YÖK) or the Ministry of Education controls the school.”
Until today, the patriarchate had insisted that the Halki Greek Orthodox Seminary should function under the Ministry of Education without being associated with a university and that the admittance of foreign teachers and students should be allowed.
When the Supreme Court decided that all higher education facilities would be connected to a state university in 1971, the Halki Greek Orthodox Seminary was regarded as a “private higher education facility.” It was declared that the school had to be tied to a state university or a state seminary to stay open.
As the patriarchate was unwilling to connect the school to a Turkish university, the seminary was closed down. The patriarchate maintained the same stance until today, since they said the school was established as a boarding school to raise pastors, therefore if the seminary was tied to a university and the students left at the end of the school day, the school would not serve its purpose.
Furthermore there were concerns that if the Halki Greek Orthodox Seminary, where only Orthodox theology is taught, became a part of a university, students of Protestant, Armenian, Catholic and Syriac origin would be admitted and as a result the school could not keep teaching only Orthodox theology.
On the other hand the Turkish government claimed that if the seminary was not connected to a university and solely taught “Orthodox theology” it would spark some religious orders in the country to ask to open schools that taught their respective theologies as well.