Pope Shatters John Paul II Record for Mosque Visits

| 5/11/2009 11:50:43 AM

Big news! Pope Benedict XVI has broken the papal record for most mosque visits. With his visit to the Hussein bin-Talal mosque in Amman, Jordan, he bested his predecessor’s record by just one visit—but he also doubled it.

That’s not bad math: the record for mosque visits by a single pontiff, which Benedict XVI now holds, is two.

Here’s John Allen from the independent Catholic newspaper National Catholic Reporter:

Late this morning, Benedict visited the Hussein bin-Talal mosque in the Jordanian capital of Amman. That makes two mosque tours for Benedict XVI, after a visit to the legendary Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey, in late 2006. Though John Paul made appearances at many mosques over the years, he only entered one – the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, Syria, in 2001.

Granted, the visit in Amman wasn’t quite the same stunner as Istanbul. For one thing, the symbolism was different; Benedict didn’t share a moment of silent prayer with an imam, and he didn’t take off his shoes. He did both in the Blue Mosque in 2006.

Nonetheless, the pope’s choice to go to the mosque at all, which is named for Jordan’s late King Hussein, offered further confirmation of the rising importance of Islam for this pope and for the broader Catholic church.

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