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Pope invited to Great Mosque of Rome

VATICAN (SE): A Muslim delegation formally invited Pope Francis to visit the Great Mosque of Rome, the largest outside the Islamic world. It would mark the first time a pope has visited the local mosque, which was opened in 1995.

Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesperson, confirmed that the pope received the invitation on January during an early morning private audience at the Vatican with a five-person Muslim delegation.

Vatican Radio reported that Father Lombardi told the media that the invitation “will be taken into consideration. The pope will see if and when he can go.”

On the previous day, Imam Izzedin Elzir, the president of the Union of Islamic Communities in Italy, told the Catholic television programme, Tg2000, that during its meeting with the pope the delegation would “reaffirm and underscore the importance of the dialogue with the Catholic Church that has been taking place for decades.”

Elzir said, “Today it is necessary to highlight the importance of this dialogue more than ever before.”

The first pope to visit a mosque was Pope John Paul II when he travelled to Damascus, Syria, in 2001. Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis both visited the Blue Mosque in Istanbul during their trips to Turkey in 2006 and 2014.

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