Orthodox Christian leaders make last-minute appeal for unity

In this Wednesday, June 15, 2016 photo released by Holy and Great Council, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholmew I, center, arrives 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 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)

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.