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The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan D. Williams: An Opportunity for Turkey is the School of Halki

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams (Photo by N. Manginas)

The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan D. Williams visited the Ecumenical Patriarchate for three days and had meetings with the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the Committee on Inter-Christian Relations. He also visited the Theological School of Halki and attended the Divine Liturgy at the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George. Below is a brief interview with Archbishop of Canterbury concerning the Theological School of Halki and Inter-Christian relations. -By Nikolaos Manginas

What do you think about the closure of the theological school of Halki for 38 years seeing that it deprives the Ecumenical Patriarchate the ability to train clergy and staff and how do you see the future of the school?

“Well, first of all, the school at Halki has enormous resources both in terms of books and in terms of space and a beautiful location. It is symbolically very important that it is connected with the Ecumenical Patriarchate and so it could be a great international center once again. So I hope we shall see that emerging in the years to come- another international center with real theological quality for the Orthodox Church closely associated with His All Holiness. I think that as Turkey considers its future in Europe, it is a very good moment indeed to think about a positive gesture towards Halki, but I really hope and pray that will be something we look forward to.”

How do you evaluate the meetings you had at the Ecumenical Patriarchate during your present stay at the Phanar?

“It has been a wonderful couple of days; we have had an opportunity to talk with several people at the Phanar about our ecumenical relations, about our hopes, our anxieties because both of churches are facing considerable problems at the moment. We talked very honestly and very helpful about that and it has been an immense privilege and joy to be with the Patriarch, to spend personal time with him and to share in worship with him, it is always a gift to which I am very grateful to be here.”

How do you characterize the course of dialogue between the Anglican and Orthodox Churches?

“We are planning the next round of the dialogue, the document that has come out so far, from the dialogue over the last maybe twenty years has already had a very positive impact in many ways. We now begin on a new course of work which starts later this year thinking about the Christian doctrine of human nature. We have our membership lined up; we have our subject matter defined, so I think the prospects are very good.”

Last year (2008), the Time Magazine chose the Ecumenical Patriarch as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. At that time you wrote about the personality of the Patriarch that he is “an Eastern Orthodox leader that defines environmentalism as a spiritual responsibility” among Leaders and Revolutionaries.

“I have heard the Ecumenical Patriarch’s name was one of those being talked about, and because I so greatly admire him as a theologian and as a pastor and as a person, I felt that it was a privilege to be able to say something in praise of him and the way in which he has I think created a role for the Ecumenical Patriarchate worldwide by teaching his teaching/ advocacy on environmental matters and the Christian approach to environmental questions, that has been a great example to many of us.”

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