How does the Ecumenical Patriarchate view and wish the status of a re-opened School

Today, twenty-three years after the closure of the Theological School, the subject of its reopening is discussed widely for the first time and has attracted international attention thanks to the initiatives taken to this end by H.A.H. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew since his ascension to the Throne in November 1991, who has made official and repeated approaches to Turkish state Authorities.

Unfortunately, there has not been one response to the Church’s request to this day regarding the reopening of the School, although the reasons for which it was closed down no longer exist, for it has been some time already since by law private Universities were allowed to reopen - the function of which was banned in 1971 - to which the Theological School of Halki was included, as equivalent to them.

The until now  refusal of Turkish State Authorities to allow the School to reopen either under the Regulation of 1951, with which the fourth period of the function was inaugurated, or under the recognition of its University equivalency, if this was the reason for its ban, proves amply, that the reasons due to which the Ministry of Education forced the School to close its doors, must be searched not in its educational classification and equivalency to private University Schools – this was a mere pretext – but in other deeper reasons, to which other more acute issues were added in time, distancing the subject of the suspension of the School’s function from its original reasons.

All of the above make us think that the reopening of the Theological School in our days, in light of the exceptionally unfavourable and most disappointing conditions in the life and circumstances of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Greek population in Constantinople, conditions completely different and incomparable to those back in 1951-1955, is very problematic. As it stands today, for the School to reopen and be successful, the Turkish Government must facilitate it in all the necessary areas that would contribute to the efficient function along with the required license. The free and without restrictions acceptance and enrolment of students from abroad should be taken for granted, just like it was in the years 1951-1955; also, it should be allowed for the School to hire professors from the foreign graduates, who already hold professorial positions elsewhere and others who meet the necessary criteria, so that all gaps caused through the passing of time due to the death of respectful professors and the compulsory departure of others, due to advanced age, be filled; these would join the few surviving professors from the Association of Professors of the fourth period of the School.

The outlook is not optimistic. However, H.A.H. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, whose perpetual gratefulness to the Theological School from which graduated, and deep love and devotion and tireless care did not cease to be manifested not even for a moment, from the time he ascended to the patriarchal throne, despite the difficulties and adversities, carries on with the struggle and crusade for the reopening of the Mother School. The blessings of the late Departed Deans, Professors and those of the graduate professors and students are certainly with Him.