Following a meeting of its bishops in a Holy Synod on Monday, the Russian Orthodox Church has proposed postponing an historic gathering of leaders of Orthodox churches set to open June 19 on the island nation of Crete.

Other Orthodox churches had already announced they were not planning to participate as a result of various grievances, including the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and the Patriarchate of Antioch, and the Serbian Orthodox Church had also requested a postponement.

The event, called a “Holy and Great Council,” was to be the first summit of leaders of all the world’s independent (“autocephalous”) Orthodox churches in a millennium, since the split between East and West in 1054.

On Monday, Metropolitian Hilarion of the Patriarchate of Moscow told the Russian news agency RIA Novosti, “”We will not be able to participate in the Pan-Orthodox Council … we will ask to postpone the meeting.”

Hilarion, effectively the number two official in the Russian Orthodox hierarchy after Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, said the Orthodox should “learn lessons from the situation.”

In particular, Hilarion was quoted as saying that the council must pay greater attention to the suggestions of individual churches before the summit convenes, such as the demand by the Patriarchate of Antioch to resolve a territorial dispute involving Qatar with the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and also to complaints about the preparatory documents for the meeting.

A statement released Monday by the Russian Orthodox Church said the condition of agreement among all the various Orthodox churches for convening the council is “obviously absent,” and that if the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the hosts of the event, do not accept the proposal to postpone, then participation by the Russian Orthodox “with profound regret, [will] be considered impossible.”

A spokesperson for the council told Crux on Monday that the summit is still happening, and will open as scheduled.

Speaking off the record, Orthodox officials planning on being in attendance expressed hope that by the time the event is set to close, on June 26, representatives of those churches that have said they won’t take part will nevertheless arrive.

Hilarion told the Russian news agency that the council “is not intended to resolve doctrinal questions, [or] to make any innovations in the liturgical life of the Church and in her canonical structure.”

Moscow’s position is critically important in Orthodox affairs, since the Russian Orthodox Church accounts for almost two-thirds of the roughly 250 to 300 million Orthodox Christians in the world.