Seminary to raise Christian clerics may open in Turkey

PanARMENIAN.Net - The Turkish government is not opposed to opening of a seminary to raise Christian clerics provided it is subsumed under the authority of the Higher Education Board (YÖK), Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ said.

“The theology faculties in Turkey are opened as a part of the universities and operate according to the rules of YÖK,” Bozdağ told Anatolia news agency. “There are no laws in Turkey against opening a seminary to raise Christian clerics, the state will also support such a move.”

Turkey’s Greek Orthodox have long demanded the re-opening of Halki Seminary on Istanbul’s Heybeliada island. In a recent meeting with Parliament’s Constitutional Conciliation Commission, Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew demanded a “constitutional guarantee for the domestic education of the clergy.”

The patriarchate seeks vocational school status for the seminary under the supervision of the Education Ministry.

Bozdağ said the government proposed to the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate that it open the seminary as a faculty of a university. “The main debate is on the status of the school, it is not about permission,” Bozdağ said, citing the example of Germany, where all seminaries are part of universities, Hurriyet Daily News reported.

The Greek Orthodox seminary was a main center of theological education for more than a century before Turkish authorities closed it in 1971 under a law designed to bring universities under state control.

The international community, including the European Union and the United States, has long asked Turkey to reopen the seminary to prove its commitment to human rights.

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