Ray of hope for Halki seminary

Turkey should reopen the Halki seminary for Orthodox priests off Istanbul in order to prove its democratic credentials, Turkish Education Minister Huseyin Celik said yesterday. The seminary, on the island of Halki (Heybeliada in Turkish), was closed in 1971 under a law curbing the activities of religious schools operating at university level. Its reopening has been a key demand by Athens and the Istanbul-based Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate. «I think it is meaningless to raise objections if people want a Christian school to be opened,» Celik was quoted as saying by the Anatolia news agency following a meeting with Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios – who presented him with an official demand for the seminary’s reopening. «Free education on Christianity and Christian theology in Turkey is a requirement of Turkey’s democratic system.» Pledging expeditious action, Celik said he would set up a commission to look into how the school could be inaugurated.