American Hellenic Institute


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Urge House Foreign Affairs Committee to Support Halki Resolution on June 7
TO: AHI Chapter Presidents, Congressional Contact Team Leaders, Members and Friends
FROM: Nick Larigakis, AHI President
DATE: June 5, 2012


The Ecumenical Patriarchate is the spiritual home of the world’s oldest and second largest Christian church. Prior to its forced closure by Turkish authorities in 1971, the Greek Orthodox Halki Patriarchal School of Theology was the primary seminary for the Ecumenical Patriarchate and was considered the educational center for Orthodox Christians worldwide. His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual leader of approximately 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide and five million Orthodox Christians in the United States, is a graduate of the Greek Orthodox Halki Patriarchal School of Theology.

The Turkish government continues to tolerate assaults against its Greek Orthodox Christian religious minority and the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and it continues the illegal closure of the Greek Orthodox Halki Patriarchal School of Theology. These actions violate U.S. principles on freedom of religion and U.S. law as expressed in Section 2804 of the Omnibus Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act of 1998 (PL 105-277).

On March 20, 2012, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) in its 2012 annual report designated Turkey as a “country of particular concern,” which reaffirmed the Turkish government’s continued tolerance of assaults upon its many minority populations including the Greek Orthodox Christian minority and the Ecumenical Patriarchate. These are all actions that violate the founding principles and laws of the United States. The Commission’s report specifically citeed Turkey’s policies that: deny non-Muslim communities the right to train clergy, including the closure of the Greek Orthodox Halki Patriarchal School of Theology; officially do not accord the ecclesiastical title “ecumenical” to the Ecumenical Patriarch, interfere in the internal governance of the Greek Orthodox community, and retain the power to expropriate religious minority properties.

U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), co-chair of the Hellenic Caucus, introduced H.Res.506, calling upon the Government of Turkey to facilitate the reopening of the Ecumenical Patriarchate's Theological School of Halki without condition or further delay. The resolution also urges the Government of Turkey to address other longstanding concerns relating to the Ecumenical Patriarchate.


  • The House Committee on Foreign Affairs will vote on H.Res.506 at a markup hearing to be held Thursday, June 7, 10am. 
  1. Click here for a listing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

  • H.Res.506 has 28 co-sponsors as of 6/1/12. 

  1. Click here to view the co-sponsors.
  2. Click here to learn more about H.Res.506. 


We urge you to contact your U.S. representative and request them to co-sponsor H.Res.506—especially if they are a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

  • Click here to see list of the 28 co-sponsors.
  • If you do not see your U.S. representative as a co-sponsor above, please contact his/her office today.
  • Ask to speak with the Legislative Director or Foreign Affairs Legislative Assistant.
  • Advise them you are a constituent, calling from [city or town] and that you’d like the representative’s support by co-sponsoring H.Res.506.
  • Advise the Congressional staff person to contact Congressman Bilirakis’ office to sign on as a co-sponsor.
  • If you do see your legislator as a co-sponsor, please contact him or her to offer your thanks.

NOTE: Please send a copy of your correspondence, or provide notice of a phone call made, to Demetra Astaloglou at


  • Turkey’s forcible closure of the Greek Orthodox Halki Patriarchal School of Theology in 1971 is in violation of American principles and U.S. law on freedom of religion as well as international human rights law.
  • Turkey was designated a “country of particular concern” by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in the commission’s 2012 annual report.
  • The closure of the Halki Theological School threatens patriarchal succession and the survival of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
  • The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America falls under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
  • There are approximately five million Orthodox Christians in the United States and approximately 300 million Orthodox Christians around the world.


  • Contact your members of Congress by telephone by dialing the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 202.224-3121.




For further information or questions, please contact AHI, (202) 785-8430, or email