Orthodox Christian leaders meeting for a historic council aimed at promoting unity have made a last-minute appeal to the Russian Orthodox Church and three others to attend the first such gathering in more than a millennium.

A spokesman for Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I says the leaders of 10 out of the 14 Orthodox churches that were supposed to convene on the Greek island of Crete will seek to resolve the issues that made the four churches decide not to attend.

Rev. John Chryssavgis says the church leaders met on Friday and would later in the day send an official request for the other churches to attend.

The week-long Holy and Great Council is starting on Sunday. The four churches pulled out after disagreements over procedural and some doctrinal issues.