Europe

Orthodox Synod to take place despite new pullout, by Russia

  • In this Wednesday, June 15, 2016 photo released by Holy and Great Council, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholemew, centre, speaks next to Archbishop of Crete Irineos, left, and Deputy Greek Foreign Minister Yannis Amanatides, during his arrival at the airport of Chania in the Greek island of Crete. The spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians on Wednesday said a historic meeting of church leaders _ the first in more than a millennium _ will to take place despite a pullout by Russia, the fourth Orthodox church to say it won't attend the June gathering in Crete.  (Holy and Great Council via AP)

    In this Wednesday, June 15, 2016 photo released by Holy and Great Council, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholemew, centre, speaks next to Archbishop of Crete Irineos, left, and Deputy Greek Foreign Minister Yannis Amanatides, during his arrival at the airport of Chania in the Greek island of Crete. The spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians on Wednesday said a historic meeting of church leaders _ the first in more than a millennium _ will to take place despite a pullout by Russia, the fourth Orthodox church to say it won't attend the June gathering in Crete. (Holy and Great Council via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this Wednesday, June 15, 2016 photo released by Holy and Great Council, Senior Orthodox clergy wait the arrival of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholmew I at the airport of Chania in the Greek island of Crete. Bartholmew I , the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians on Wednesday said a historic meeting of church leaders — the first in more than a millennium — will take place despite a pullout by Russia, the fourth Orthodox church to say it won't attend the June gathering in Crete. (Holy and Great Council via AP)

    In this Wednesday, June 15, 2016 photo released by Holy and Great Council, Senior Orthodox clergy wait the arrival of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholmew I at the airport of Chania in the Greek island of Crete. Bartholmew I , the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians on Wednesday said a historic meeting of church leaders — the first in more than a millennium — will take place despite a pullout by Russia, the fourth Orthodox church to say it won't attend the June gathering in Crete. (Holy and Great Council via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this Wednesday, June 15, 2016 photo released by Holy and Great Council, Senior Orthodox clergy wait the arrival of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholmew I at the airport of Chania in the Greek island of Crete. Bartholmew I , the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians on Wednesday said a historic meeting of church leaders — the first in more than a millennium — will take place despite a pullout by Russia, the fourth Orthodox church to say it won't attend the June gathering in Crete. (Holy and Great Council via AP)

    In this Wednesday, June 15, 2016 photo released by Holy and Great Council, Senior Orthodox clergy wait the arrival of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholmew I at the airport of Chania in the Greek island of Crete. Bartholmew I , the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians on Wednesday said a historic meeting of church leaders — the first in more than a millennium — will take place despite a pullout by Russia, the fourth Orthodox church to say it won't attend the June gathering in Crete. (Holy and Great Council via AP)  (The Associated Press)

The spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians says a historic meeting of church leaders — the first in more than a millennium — is to take place despite a pullout by Russia, the fourth Orthodox church to say it won't attend the June gathering in Crete.

Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, who ranks as "the first among equals," said on Wednesday that he hopes the Russian church and three others who have chosen not to come will change their minds.

The week-long Holy and Great Council, which is to begin on Sunday, was meant to bring together leaders of 14 independent Orthodox churches to promote unity among the world's 300 million Orthodox Christians.

The gathering on the island of Crete has been 55 years in preparation and planning.