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His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros Speaks to USCIRF on the Significance of the Closure of Halki Seminary

Dear brother Archons and friends:

Please take the time to listen to this important, informative and poignant interview of His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America by Dwight Bashir of the United States Commission on International Freedom (USCIRF), on the podcast “USCIRF Spotlight.”

His Eminence appeared on the program on the sad and regrettable occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the unjust closure of the Theological School of Halki in 1971.

As you may know, in 2011 His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros became Dean of Theological School of Halki, as well as Abbot of the Holy Patriarchal and Stavropegial Monastery of the Holy Trinity, which was founded by St. Photios the Great in the ninth century on the island of Halki, where the Theological School is located.

In this interview, His Eminence explained the importance of the Halki Seminary and the impact of its closure on the Church. He stated: “We lost two generations of priests and clergy and bishops of the Church, who are not educated in the only school that the Ecumenical Patriarchate has in Istanbul.”

His Eminence also clarified why Turkey’s practice of granting Turkish nationality to prelates from outside Turkey doesn’t solve the problem created by the closure of the Seminary. He shed light on Turkey’s official explanation for closing the Theological School, and discusses the Turkish government’s insistence on a reciprocal gesture from Greece as a condition for reopening it. He also pointed out other difficulties the Ecumenical Patriarchate faces in Turkey, including the fact that under Turkish law, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has no legal identity.

In the course of the interview, Bashir emphasized that “USCIRF has regularly noted the continued closure of the Halki Seminary as a longstanding religious freedom violation in the country.”

We all remain hopeful that the Theological School of Halki will reopen in the near future. His Eminence has made it clear in this interview what that would mean for the Church and the world.

Yours in the service of the Mother Church,

Anthony J. Limberakis, MD

Archon Aktouarios

National Commander

Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate

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