Event Organized by Annunciation Cathedral of New England Cultural Events Committee
WASHINGTON, DC — The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) participated at a panel discussion “The Theological School of Halki: Past, Present, and Future” held by the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral of New England Cultural Events Committee on March 31, 2011. More than 200 persons braved blizzard-like conditions to attend.AHI President Nick Larigakis served as an expert panelist speaking on the topic “Halki—U.S. Position and Responsibility.” He was joined on the panel by Historian and Philanthropist Christos Papoutsy, George Rockas, Esq., who served as chair of the International Religious Freedom Conference, Brussels; former Rhode Island State Senator Lou Raptakis, Professor Michalis Psalidopoulos, C. Karamanlis Chair in Hellenic & Southeastern European Studies, Tufts University. Greek Consul General of Boston Elias Fotopoulos offered remarks. Mrs. Mary Papoutsy served as moderator and His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios oversaw the panel discussion.
“We commend the community of New England for hosting this very successful panel discussion on a topic of extreme importance to the community,” President Larigakis said. “We were pleased to contribute to the panel and discuss the U.S. policy position on Halki to an audience outside of the Beltway.”
As part of his presentation, Larigakis discussed the importance of the community’s work to make policymakers aware of the restrictions on religious freedom placed upon the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which includes the closure of Halki. He brought to the attention of the audience the significance of the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998 as it relates to Turkey and the fact that the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), which was created by IFRA, has placed Turkey on its “Watch List” for two consecutive years, 2009 and 2010. Moreover, Larigakis created awareness about legislation, H.Res.180, that urges Turkey lift its restrictions on religious freedom of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the important role local communities have to bring it to legislators’ attention.
“In addition, when the Theological School of Halki is re-opened, it is important that it is administered by the Ecumenical Patriarchate and not administered by the Turkish government,” added Larigakis.
The American Hellenic Institute is a non-profit Greek American public policy center that works to strengthen relations between the United States and Greece and Cyprus, and within the Greek American community.
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AHI Presents at Panel on the Theological School of Halki