Russian church praises pope

Moscow, Russia - The leader of Russian Orthodoxy says his church joins Catholics in grieving for John Paul, the first Slavic pope.

The patriarch makes no mention of a Moscow-Vatican dispute that blocked the pope from fulfilling a dream of going to Russia.

The Russian Orthodox Church complains Roman Catholics are poaching for converts. The Russians say the pool comprises people who would have been Orthodox if the former Soviet Union had not banned religious activities.

State-controlled television channels are leading their newscasts with the pope's death, including live reports from St. Peter's Square. There are about 600-thousand Catholics in Russia.

Other Russians offering condolences and praise of the pope include President Vladimir Putin and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

John Paul died last night at the age of 84.