Halki seminary

Halki seminary

The Halki seminary, formally the Theological School of Halki (Greek: Θεολογική Σχολή Χάλκης), was founded on 1 October 1844 on the island of Halki (now called Heybeliada), the second-largest of the Princes' Islands in the Sea of Marmara. It was the main school of theology of the Eastern Orthodox Church's Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople until the Turkish government stopped its use in 1971.[1][2] The theological school is located at the top of the island's Hill of Hope, on the site of the Byzantine-era Monastery of the Holy Trinity. The premises of the school continue to be maintained by the monastery and are used to host conferences. It is possible to visit the island where it is located via boat in approximately one hour from the shore of Istanbul.[3] As of January 2011, an international campaign to reopen this theological school is entering its 40th year as noted by American Senator Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland in the United States Congress during the 2nd Session of Proceedings and Debates of the 111th Congress.[4]



The seminary is located on the site of the Monastery of the Holy Trinity, founded by Patriarch Photius I almost a thousand years before the foundation of the theological school. During Ottoman rule the monastery fell in to disrepair. In 1844, Patriarch Germanos IV converted the monastery into a school of theology, which was inaugurated on 1 October 1844. All the buildings, except for the 17th-century chapel, were destroyed by an earthquake in June 1894, but were rebuilt by architect Periklis Fotiadis and inaugurated on 6 October 1896.[3] These buildings were also renovated in the 1950s.[5]

When established in 1844, the school had seven grades, four high school level and three higher level (theological grades).[5] In 1899, the high school division was dissolved and the school functioned as an academy with five grades. In 1923, on the establishment of the Turkish Republic, the seven-grade system was restored (4 high school + 3 higher level). In 1951, it was changed to 3 high school + 4 higher level.

The facilities include the Chapel of the Holy Trinity, sports and recreational institutions, dormitories, an infirmary, a hospice, offices, and the school's library with its historic collection of books, journals, and manuscripts. The library contains over 120,000 books.

There have been 990 graduates of the theological school and many have become priests, bishops, archbishops, scholars, and patriarchs.[4][6] Many former students are buried in the grounds of the school. Orthodox Christians from around the world have attended and graduated from the theological school and the alumni are distributed around the world.[7]

Enforced closure

In 1971, parts of the Private University Law were ruled unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court of Turkey, which ruled that all private colleges must be affiliated with a state-run university; subsequently all private institutions of higher education either became part of state universities or closed down.[5] It was stated in Article 130 of the Turkish Constitution of 1961 that:

"Foundations are allowed to establish nonprofit colleges that are under state supervision and inspections”.[8]

However, Article 132 stated that:

"Only the Turkish Armed Forces and police are allowed to open private colleges.”[8]

Halki's Board of Trustees could not agree to supervision by the state.[8] Consequently, the seminary section of the Halki school was closed down and although the high school remains open the Turkish government no longer permits students to attend it.[9] The school is currently only used for conferences, including the International Environmental Symposium.[10]

On 2 November 1998 Halki's Board of Trustees were ordered to disband by an agency of the Turkish government.[10][11] International criticism caused the order to be rescinded on 25 November 1998.[12]

Demolition of a 17th-century chapel

The Theological School of Halki at the top of the Hill of Hope.

In November 2007, the 17th-century chapel of Our Lord's Transfiguration at the Halki seminary, that had survived the June 1894 earthquake, was almost totally demolished by Forest Guards of the Turkish forestry authority.[13] There was no advance warning given for the demolition work, organised by the Turkish government, and it was only stopped after appeals by the Ecumenical Patriarch.[14][15]

Campaign to reopen the seminary

The Halki seminary has received international attention in recent years. US President Bill Clinton visited Halki on his visit to Turkey in 1999 and urged Turkish President Süleyman Demirel to allow the reopening of the school.[16] In October 1998, both houses of the United States Congress passed resolutions that supported the reopening of Halki. The European Union has also raised the issue as part of its negotiations over Turkish accession to the EU. However, the school remains closed, and there is strong opposition to reopening it from Turkey's nationalist and Islamist parties, particularly the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Felicity Party (SP), but also the secular Republican People's Party (CHP), and indeed among the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) as well.

In a speech before the Turkish Parliament on 6 April 2009, US President Barack Obama re-affirmed the need for Turkey to allow the re-opening of the Halki seminary:

"Freedom of religion and expression lead to a strong and vibrant civil society that only strengthens the state, which is why steps like reopening the Halki Seminary will send such an important signal inside Turkey and beyond. An enduring commitment to the rule of law is the only way to achieve the security that comes from justice for all people."[17]

These sentiments were echoed by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a dinner in Washington honoring their guest the Ecumenical Patriarch.[18]

Commentators have noted that while the Turkish government may outwardly seem willing to reopen the seminary, actual moves to do so are not underway because of internal political obstacles. Arrangements for reopening necessitate constitutional amendments, which may be used as a tool by opposition parties to fuel nationalist rhetoric.[19]

In 2010, a journalist of the Turkish newspaper Today's Zaman asked officials at the Ecumenical Patriarchate if there were any plans to take the issue to the European Court of Human Rights. Patriarchate officials responded that they did not want to pursue that course of action, however Patriarch Bartholomew has indicated that they may well have to if there is no progress towards the re-opening of the theological school.[6]


In the history of the theological school there have been 990 graduates in total.[6] The alumni include:

See also

  • Byzantine philosophy
  • Essence–Energies distinction (Eastern Orthodox theology)
  • Philotheos Bryennios


  1. ^ Commander opposed Halki Seminary reopening over fears Today's Zaman, 21 January 2011.
  2. ^ H. CON. RES. 50 United States, House of Representatives, 28 March 1995.
  3. ^ a b The Holy Theological School of Halki Ecumenical Patriarchate, Patriarchate.org
  4. ^ a b Theological School of Halki, Hon. Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland Commission on Security & Cooperation in Europe, U.S. Helsinki Commission, Proceedings and Debates of the 111th Congress, 2nd Session.
  5. ^ a b c The never ending story of Halki Theological Seminary reopening HurriyetDailyNews.com
  6. ^ a b c Arınç says legal barriers will be overcome to open Greek seminary Today's Zaman, 4 January 2011.
  7. ^ Halki Theological School Graduates Association EstiaHalkis.org
  8. ^ a b c PM Erdogan asserts Turks rights in Greece in return for Halki Seminary Hurriyet Daily News, 4 January 2010.
  9. ^ Gov’t seeking delicate balance in regards to patriarch’s rights Today's Zaman, 19 January 2011.
  10. ^ a b Renewed Persecution of Theological School of Halki Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Press Release, 3 November 1998.
  11. ^ Renewed Persecution of the Theological School of Halki Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Orthodox Observer, 5 November 1998.
  12. ^ Board of Trustees of the Patriarchal Theological School of Halki to be restored Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Press Release, 25 November 1998.
  13. ^ Halki’s Chapel of the Transfiguration left in ruins AsiaNews.it, 17 November 2007
  14. ^ Monastery on Halki wrecked Kathimerini, English Edition, 16 November 2007.
  15. ^ Halki’s Chapel of the Transfiguration almost destroyed by forest guards Vaticans.org, 17 November 2007.
  16. ^ Clinton criticizes Turkey for shrinking Christian population Xinhuanet.com from Chinaview.cn, 3 November 2009.
  17. ^ Remarks by President Obama to Turkish Parliament America.gov, 6 April 2009.
  18. ^ Clinton echoes Obama’s call to reopen Halki Today's Zaman, 7 November 2009.
  19. ^ No easy formula for resolving Halki seminary issue Today's Zaman, 30 Jun 2009.

External links

Coordinates: 40°52′56″N 29°05′42″E / 40.88222°N 29.095°E / 40.88222; 29.095

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Halki (disambiguation) — Halki can refer to several different things:* Halki (also Khalki, Chalki), a Greek island in the Aegean Sea, part of the Dodecanese * Heybeliada, a Turkish island in the Sea of Marmara, part of the Princes Islands; called Halki/Chalki in Greek *… …   Wikipedia

  • Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople — His All Holiness  Bartholomew I Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Church Church of Constantinople …   Wikipedia

  • Heybeliada — Not to be confused with Halki in the Dodecanese. Naval Cadet School in Heybeliada …   Wikipedia

  • Persecution of Christians — This article is about acts committed against Christians because of their faith. For negative attitudes towards Christians, see Anti Christian sentiment. A Christian Dirce, by Henryk Siemiradzki. A Christian woman is martyred under Nero in this re …   Wikipedia

  • Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople — Infobox Patriarch of Constantinople honorific prefix = name = Bartholomew I honorific suffix = caption = ordination = consecration = enthroned = November 2, 1991 ended = Incumbent province = diocese = see church = predecessor = Demetrios I… …   Wikipedia

  • Democratic initiative — This article is part of a series on Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Early life and career  …   Wikipedia

  • Халкинская богословская школа — Халкинская богословская школа …   Википедия

  • Princes' Islands — The Princes Islands (Turkish: Prens Adaları [Prince Islands] or more commonly Kizil Adalar [Red Islands] as they are officially named; classical Greek: Prinkēpōn nēsoi , polytonic|Πριγκήπων νήσοι , modern Greek: Prinkiponisia ,… …   Wikipedia

  • Freedom of religion in Turkey — issues wikify=March 2008 cleanup=March 2008 citations missing=Sep 2008The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respected this right in practice; however, the Government imposes some restrictions on Muslim… …   Wikipedia

  • History of the Eastern Orthodox Church — The Eastern Orthodox Churches trace their roots back to the Apostles and Jesus Christ. Eastern Orthodoxy reached its golden age during the high point of the Byzantine Empire, and then continued to flourish in Russia after the Fall of… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.