Istanbul: The historic meeting between the Grand Mufti and Patriarch BartholomewThe meeting marked a new phase of collaboration and interreligious dialogue which had long been impossible. Negotiations also began for the reopening of the Orthodox Halki seminary
vatican insider staff
July 5, 2012http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/en/hom...istambul-16575/
Today was a historic day for Istanbul. Turkey’s greatest religious authority, the Grand Mufti, Mehmet Görmez, attended a meeting with Bartholomew I, at the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
This was the first time in the history of modern Turkey that the head of the Presidency for Religious Affairs (Diyanet) visited the highest representative of the country’s oldest religion, the Orthodox faith, which has its origins in the Byzantine Empire.
The meeting, which had been scheduled some time ago, was arranged in order to give impetus to interreligious dialogue and push for the re opening of the Orthodox Halki seminary, which the military closed in 1971. For centuries, this seminary was the training place for the upper echelons of the Orthodox Church.
The Grand Mufti addressed this issue in today’s meeting with Bartholomew: “A country as big as this - Görmez stated – should not have to send its clergy abroad to be educated.” In other words, if the Halki seminary is not reopened, Bartholomew I’s successors will inevitably come from abroad.
The Patriarch said he “fully agreed” with Görmez, adding that Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s conservative Islamic government “is dealing with the problem in a constructive manner.”
In this morning’s issue of Turkish daily newspaper Radikal, Huseiyn Celik, former Education minister and Vice Secretary of Akp, stated: “It was a mistake to close Halki; not to reopen it would be another mistake. There is no criticism preventing it from being opened; it is a right.”
The first discussion between the two religious leaders, which was then followed by a second closed-door meeting, was broadcast live on television. The two clerics exchanged gifts. A beautiful silver engraved with the name of Allah engraved on it, for Mehmet Görmez and a papyrus with verses from the Koran, the Gospel and the Torah, on God’s existence, for Bartholomew. “Let us not make this meeting an isolated case, – Görmez said – let us meet more often.”