Pope Urges Prayers for Soul of Russian Orthodox Patriarch

VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope Benedict XVI is calling for prayers for
the soul of Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II, who died Friday at
the age of 79.

During his Sunday blessing from his studio window above St. Peter's Square, Benedict said Roman Catholics are united with their "Orthodox brothers" in praying for Alexy's soul.

Relations between the Vatican and the Russian Orthodox Church
have been strained over Orthodox accusations that the Vatican was
poaching converts in former Soviet nations. The Vatican denies

Alexy led the Russian church for 18 years, from the last year of the officially atheistic Soviet Union through a massive revival that saw it become the world's largest Orthodox church.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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