Europe

Russia suggests postponing historical all-Orthodox meeting

  • FILE - In this Friday, May 27, 2016 file photo, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow arrives to the port of Dafni, at Mount Athos, Greece. The Russian Orthodox Church on Monday, June 13, 2016, is suggesting postponing a historical meeting of all of the world's Orthodox churches. The meeting on the Greek island of Crete later this month could be the first one in more than a millennium. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic, FILE)

    FILE - In this Friday, May 27, 2016 file photo, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow arrives to the port of Dafni, at Mount Athos, Greece. The Russian Orthodox Church on Monday, June 13, 2016, is suggesting postponing a historical meeting of all of the world's Orthodox churches. The meeting on the Greek island of Crete later this month could be the first one in more than a millennium. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic, FILE)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Friday, May 27, 2016 file photo, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow arrives to the port of Dafni, at Mount Athos, Greece. The Russian Orthodox Church on Monday, June 13, 2016, is suggesting postponing a historical meeting of all of the world's Orthodox churches. The meeting on the Greek island of Crete later this month could be the first one in more than a millennium. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic, FILE)

    FILE - In this Friday, May 27, 2016 file photo, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow arrives to the port of Dafni, at Mount Athos, Greece. The Russian Orthodox Church on Monday, June 13, 2016, is suggesting postponing a historical meeting of all of the world's Orthodox churches. The meeting on the Greek island of Crete later this month could be the first one in more than a millennium. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic, FILE)  (The Associated Press)

The Russian Orthodox Church is suggesting postponing a historic meeting of all of the world's Orthodox churches.

The meeting on the Greek island of Crete due to start on Sunday could be the first in more than a millennium.

Hilarion, a bishop who heads the Moscow Patriarchate's department of external church relations, said in a televised statement on Monday that Russia would not take part in it if others are walking out, and suggested the meeting be postponed.

Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, who ranks as "the first among equals", hoped that the gathering of leaders of 14 independent Orthodox churches later this month could promote unity among the world's 300 million Orthodox Christians.

Bulgaria's church said last week it would not attend, putting the plans in jeopardy.