Clinton’s remarks came on Thursday in Washington as she hosted a dinner honoring the visit of Bartholomew, who is the spiritual leader of 300 million Orthodox Christians around the world. Ankara rejects Bartholomew’s use of the title “ecumenical,” or universal, arguing instead that the patriarch is merely the spiritual leader of İstanbul’s dwindling Orthodox community.
“I particularly appreciate what [Bartholomew] did in the aftermath of 9/11, when he united leaders from across the religious spectrum to condemn the terrorist attacks and call for harmony among the world’s faithful. His campaign on behalf of religious freedom and peaceful coexistence has helped to bridge divides among believers. And the United States has been proud to support his calls for religious tolerance, both in Turkey and around the world,” Clinton said.
“It is one of the reasons that President [Barack] Obama and I have been so vocal about the need to reopen Halki Seminary and protect the rights of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. We have raised these issues repeatedly and publicly, and will continue to do so until they are addressed,” she added. “We look forward to working with Turkey, and we welcome Prime Minister [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan’s visit to Washington next month.”
On Tuesday, following a meeting with Bartholomew at the White House, Obama voiced support for the reopening of the Halki Seminary.