Over the recent days, Orthodox Churches have been one after another refusing to attend the Council.
Problems sprang up in the course of final preparations for the assembly recently, with the Bulgarian Orthodox Church saying its clerics will not attend the Council, since more preparations are needed.
The Georgian Orthodox Church, too, voiced objections against the documents on Christian marriage and the contemporary mission of the Church.
On Tuesday, Syria’s Antiochian Orthodox Church said it was unprepared to attend the Holy and Great Council. The Serbian Orthodox Church declared its refusal to attend on Thursday.
Should at least one of the 14 churches be absent from the Council, it will lose the Pan-Orthodox status. The Russian Orthodox Church proposed convening an urgent pan-Orthodox consultative conference before June 10 ahead of the Holy and Great Council. The Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate on June 6 made a decision to proceed with routine preparations for the Council, due in Crete on June 17-26.
The Russian Orthodox Church's representative will not take part in the drafting of the message of the Pan-Orthodox Council, which should be ready one week before the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church is convened, a source from the Russian Orthodox Church told TASS on Friday.
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople invited Pope Francis to send observers to the meeting on the Greek island of Crete, and the Pope chose Cardinal Kurt Koch and Bishop Brian Farrell, respectively the president and secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
The Bulgarian contingent noted among other things an objection to the inclusion of visitors.