United States Secretary of State, John Kerry, paid a visit to Fener to discuss with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew the issue of the reopening of the Theological School of Halki, as well as other issues relating to religious freedom in Turkey.
“It is a great privilege for me to have met this protector of the right of people to freely pursue their faith and promote interfaith understanding.”
“He is a well-known environmentalist and has been honored by many universities including our Tufts University of Massachusetts,” Kerry noted.
The meeting between the U.S. Secretary of State and the Ecumenical Patriarch, which lasted about forty-five minutes, was attended by New Jersey Metropolitan Evangelos, the Chief Secretary of the Patriarchate, Archimandrite Bartholomew Samaras, Deacon Nephon Tsimalis, Archon Grand Hartophylax and elected representative of the Minorities in the Council of the General Directorate of Foundations Panteleimon Vingas, the U.S. Ambassador in Ankara Francis J. Ricciardone, the U.S. Consul General in Istanbul, as well as several of Kerry’s colleagues.
In his speech, Vingas briefed the U.S Secretary of State on the important steps taken to restore the rights of minority institutions, highlighting their need to be boosted with equal opportunities so that minorities are able to follow with the same dynamics the society as a whole. Kerry accompanied by Bartholomew, bowed at the Patriarchal Church of St. George and was toured in the Courts of the Great Church, where he showed keen interest in the history of the the Ecumenical Patriarchate.