GOARCH - November 3, 1998

Renewed Persecution of Theological School of Halki

NEW YORK - Today, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America sadly learned of the arbitrary dismissal of the Board of Trustees of the Patriarchal Theological School of Halki by an agency of the Turkish government. This action comes only days after a Sense of the Congress resolution suggesting to the Turkish government that it allow the reopening of the School.

Upon learning of the situation, His Eminence Archbishop Spyridon sent a telegram to His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew expressing his own support and that of the Greek Orthodox faithful in America. He also issued a statement which is attached to this press release.

The Halki Theological School was closed by an action of the Turkish government in 1971, and since that time, has been subject to actions by government agencies that seek to curb its activities. The School is currently used for conferences, most notably, the International Environmental Symposium sponsored annually by His All Holiness and various world renowned dignitaries. The School was founded in the nineteenth century on the grounds of the Patriarchal Monastery of the Holy Trinity that has occupied the site for over 1,000 years. $

Response to Dismissal of the Board of Trustees
of The Theological School of Halki by Turkish Authorities

Official Statement by His Eminence Archbishop Spyridon

New York - His Eminence Archbishop Spyridon, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America strongly protested the dismissal of the Board of Trustees of the Theological School of Halki by Turkish government authorities, that occurred earlier this week. The dismissal by the General Authority for Public Institutions for alleged "mismanagement" and "propaganda against the Turkish government", if upheld, would have the consequence of barring the members of the Board from any other service in similar institutions.

Upon learning of this unfolding event, His Eminence Archbishop Spyridon immediately sent a telegram of support to His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and issued this statement from Texas, where he is making a pastoral visit.

"Less than a week after the People of the United States, through their representatives in Congress and the ratification of the President, confirmed the basic human rights of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to freely operate and re-open the Patriarchal Theological School of Halki, a repressive and unfair blow has been struck against this most venerable institution of our Church. It is unacceptable that a government agency can be used to nullify the rights of its citizenry to maintain a legal institution whose purpose is religious.

As the leader of the Greek Orthodox People of America, I call upon all of the faithful throughout this great land to work in constructive and peaceful ways, at every level of society, to inform your fellow-citizens about this situation, and to encourage both the Turkish and American authorities to rectify this situation at once. I call upon the government of Turkey to respect the freedom of expression that belong to every member of the human family. And I call upon the civic and religious leaders of America to defend the spiritual and religious integrity of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople."

  November 3, 1998 ]