The special importance of the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ visit to the Holy Theological School of Halki, which has not operated since 1971, was highlighted by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, during the Divine Liturgy that took place on Friday, 1st of February, at the sacred Temple of the birth of Virgin Mary, Belgrade Gate, Constantinople.
During his speech to the congregation, the Ecumenical Patriarch wished that the visit of the Greek Prime Minister and his meeting with the President of the Turkish Republic, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, shall act as a catalyst for the improvement of the relations between Greece and Turkey.
“One of the first happy events of this month is that on Wednesday, when we shall celebrate, at the Theological School of Halki, the memory of Saint Photius, Patriarch of Constantinople, who is the founder of the thereto Monastery of the Trinity, the Prime Minister of Greece Mr. Tsipras shall visit us there. The previous day, on Tuesday, he shall be the official guest of the President of Turkish Democracy, mr. Erdogan, in Ankara. The day after, we shall welcome him in Halki, we shall discuss our common problems, he shall participate at the celebrations for Saint Photius, and we hope that this visit of the Greek Prime Minister shall play a crucial role so that the relations between Greece and Turkey shall improve, for the sake of both sides”.
As the Ecumenical Patriarch stated, the fact that, this time, the visit of the Greek Prime Minister takes place not in the Fener but in Halki, has a special symbolism, “because we all know that we need and wish for the reoperation of our Theological School, after almost half a century since it ceased to operate”.
At his speech, the Ecumenical Patriarch referred also to the Autocephaly of the Church of Ukraine as the most important ecclesiastical fact of this year. He also wished that the new Autocephalous Church of Ukraine shall develop further and unite the congregation.
“On Monday, its new Archbishop is officially enthroned at the historic Temple of Hagia Sophia of Kiev, and we sent a four member Delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, two High Priests, the Archbishop of France and the Bishop of Adrianople, and two abbots of Holy Mountain, Father Ephraim, abbot of the Monastery of Vatopedi, and Father Alexius, abbot of the Monastery of Xenophon. This four member Delegation shall enthrone the new Head, while on Saturday it shall enthrone the new Exarch, whom we appointed there”, Mr. Bartholomew stated.
He also wished that this Church shall root, develop, “gather deep within it all the scattered sheep of Christ in Ukraine and become the pride and boast of the Mother Church of Constantinople, which gave to our Ukrainian brothers and sisters the baptism, the Christian faith and, one might say, Christian civilization as well”.