Turkey’s top Muslim cleric, Religious Affairs Directorate Mehmet Gormez, urged the re-opening of Orthodox clergy schools during a landmark visit paid to the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I on Thursday.
“The fact that any religious community in this nation has to depend on other countries to raise their own clerics just does not befit the grandiosity of this country,” said Mehmet Gormez.
Whatever religious rights Muslims enjoy in Turkey should also be available to the followers of any other religion, Gormez told journalists after his rare visit to Bartholomew.
“If we get the permission today, we can make the school operational tomorrow,” the Ecumenical Patriarch said following Gormez’s call to the Turkish government.
Bartholomew expressed his gratitude to the Turkish spiritual leader for his supportive stance on matters of religious freedom. “Our government has a positive attitude (toward re-opening of the theology school), that’s what we want to be believe,” Gormez noted.
The meeting between the Muslim and the Orthodox leaders was of great historical significance and came in response to Bartholomew’s visit to Gormez a year ago. Despite the positive atmosphere during the talks, follow-up actions in the matter of the Halki Theological School remain to be seen.