Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew met with U.S. Congress leaders on Tuesday, pressing the need for the immediate opening of the Halki Theological School, shut down by Turkey in 1971.
Bartholomew had a private meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and then a dinner in his honour attended by several Senators and Representatives. During the dinner, he also had a talk with the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Bob Menendez.
The Patriarch and the two senior clerics who accompanied him, Archbishop Elpidophoros of America and Metropolitan Elder of Chalcedon Emmanuel, emphatically raised the need for the Halki Theological School to reopen immediately. They tried to make this an international issue and decouple it from the agenda of Greek-Turkish disputes. For this reason, Bartholomew called on the United States to upgrade the issue politically and take a step beyond rhetorical support.
The importance of promoting religious freedom as well as the need to support developing nations in securing vaccines against Covid-19 were also underlined. The Patriarch has repeatedly stressed the need for a socially just management of the pandemic.
(A version of this article was originally published by the Kathimerini newspaper and is reproduced by permission.)