Europe

Orthodox Christian leaders make last-minute appeal for unity

  • In this Thursday, June 16, 2016 photo released by Holy and Great Council, from left to right , Patriarch of Serbia Irinej, left, arrives at the airport of Chania in the Greek island of Crete to take part the Orthodox Synod starting Sunday. The Holy and Great Council, was to become the first meeting of all Orthodox leaders since the year 787. The meeting is still on, but with the Russian Orthodox Church and three other churches staying away its pan-Orthodox aura has faded. ( Holy and Great Council via AP)

    In this Thursday, June 16, 2016 photo released by Holy and Great Council, from left to right , Patriarch of Serbia Irinej, left, arrives at the airport of Chania in the Greek island of Crete to take part the Orthodox Synod starting Sunday. The Holy and Great Council, was to become the first meeting of all Orthodox leaders since the year 787. The meeting is still on, but with the Russian Orthodox Church and three other churches staying away its pan-Orthodox aura has faded. ( Holy and Great Council via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this Thursday, June 16, 2016 photo released by Holy and Great Council, from left to right ,Archbishop of Albania Anastasios Archbishop of Greece Ieronymos , Patriarch of Serbia Irinej and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos arrive at the airport of Chania in the Greek island of Crete to take part the Orthodox Synod starting Sunday. The Holy and Great Council, was to become the first meeting of all Orthodox leaders since the year 787. The meeting is still on, but with the Russian Orthodox Church and three other churches staying away its pan-Orthodox aura has faded. (Holy and Great Council via AP)

    In this Thursday, June 16, 2016 photo released by Holy and Great Council, from left to right ,Archbishop of Albania Anastasios Archbishop of Greece Ieronymos , Patriarch of Serbia Irinej and Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos arrive at the airport of Chania in the Greek island of Crete to take part the Orthodox Synod starting Sunday. The Holy and Great Council, was to become the first meeting of all Orthodox leaders since the year 787. The meeting is still on, but with the Russian Orthodox Church and three other churches staying away its pan-Orthodox aura has faded. (Holy and Great Council via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this Thursday, June 16, 2016 photo released by Holy and Great Council, Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos, front, arrives with other Patriarchs at the airport of Chania in the Greek island of Crete to take part the Orthodox Synod starting Sunday. The Holy and Great Council, was to become the first meeting of all Orthodox leaders since the year 787. The meeting is still on, but with the Russian Orthodox Church and three other churches staying away its pan-Orthodox aura has faded.       (Holy and Great Council via AP)

    In this Thursday, June 16, 2016 photo released by Holy and Great Council, Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos, front, arrives with other Patriarchs at the airport of Chania in the Greek island of Crete to take part the Orthodox Synod starting Sunday. The Holy and Great Council, was to become the first meeting of all Orthodox leaders since the year 787. The meeting is still on, but with the Russian Orthodox Church and three other churches staying away its pan-Orthodox aura has faded. (Holy and Great Council via AP)  (The Associated Press)

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.