Pope could visit Rome Mosque

Pope Francis could be first pope to visit Rome's mosque.

Pope Francis may visit the Great Mosque of Rome during his special Holy Year of

Mercy, Ansa news agency reports. Francis would be the first pope to visit the mosque, allegedly the largest place of Muslim worship in Europe and the headquarters of the Islamic Cultural Centre in Italy.

The announcement came the day after the pope made his first visit to the synagogue on 17 January at the invitation of the Chief Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni and the city’s Jewish community.

The invitation should be formalised during a visit by Muslim representatives to the Vatican on 20 January.

A date could be set on that occasion, Ansa said.

The pope has stressed the importance of interfaith dialogue in response to fundamentalist violence particularly since Islamist terrorists killed 130 people in Paris last November.

Francis made a visit to the central mosque in Bangui during an apostolic visit to the

Central African Republic at the end of that month, calling for a rejection of “hatred, revenge and violence, particularly when it is perpetrated in the name of a religion

or of God himself".

However at the time there was no suggestion the he might also visit the mosque in Rome, even though it is now reported that both sides have been working on the visit for around ten months.

In his bull of indiction of the special Jubilee Pope Francis noted that both Judaism and Islam “consider mercy to be one of God’s most important attributes” and expressed “trust that this Jubilee… will foster an encounter” with these and other religions.

Built to a design by Italian architect Paolo Portoghesi, the Great Mosque of Rome officially opened in June 1995.

It covers an area of 30,000 sqm near Villa Ada in north Rome and can hold up to

12,000 worshippers.