European Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas has praised efforts by Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios to bridge differences and build consensus among disparate groups, while reiterating European calls for the reopening of the Halki Orthodox Christian theological school near Istanbul.
In a video message at the start of a two-day international scientific conference at the former Theological School of Halki, which was closed by Turkish authorities in the early 1970s, Schinas described Vartholomaios as a “global leader who is always in favor of dialogue on religious issues.”
Schinas said that the patriarch’s positions on social and political issues such as the climate crisis, migration, security and health are “in perfect agreement with the framework of the values and priorities set by the European Commission.”
The EU official added that Vartholomaios’ commitment to interfaith dialogue and reconciliation is key to efforts to reopen the seminary.
“This model of open and sincere dialogue is the only path to reopening the Halki Theological School,” he said.
Turkey shut down the seminary, the main training school for Istanbul Patriarchate clergy, in 1971 after a Constitutional Court ruling banning private universities unless they were affiliated with a state institution.