Pope to visit mosque during upcoming Turkey visit

Pope Benedict XVI will visit Istanbul's Blue Mosque during his pilgrimage to Turkey, the Vatican spokesman said Sunday. The Rev. Federico Lombardi, who confirmed the stop, previously had said a visit to the mosque would be a "sign of respect" to Muslims. The Nov. 28-Dec. 1 pilgrimage comes amid heightened tensions between the West and Islam and is the pope's first visit to a predominantly Muslim nation. Lombardi gave no details on Sunday, but on Friday he said that officials were looking into a brief stop at the mosque after the pope visits the Haghia Sophia museum on Thursday. It would be Benedict's first visit to a mosque since becoming pope in 2005. His predecessor, John Paul II, visited a mosque in Damascus, Syria, in 2001, a papal first.