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The official logo for Pope Francis’ trip to Indonesia (Vatican Media)

As Indonesia prepares to welcome Pope Francis in September, an Indonesian Vatican official hopes that while visiting a high-profile mosque, the Pope will walk through an underground tunnel connecting it to the Catholic cathedral across the street. Source: Crux.

While the official program for the Pope’s visit to Indonesia has yet to be published, Indonesian Fr Markus Solo, an official with the Vatican Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue, said that currently, the second day of the September 3-6 papal visit “is dedicated to interreligious dialogue”.

In this spirit, a large interreligious event is being planned at Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta, which sits directly across the street from the Catholic Our Lady of the Assumption cathedral.

Nasaruddin Umar, grand imam of the mosque in Central Jakarta, told local media on Monday that the Pope would visit the mosque on September 5.

Fr Solo, who is the first and only curial official from Indonesia, said the choice to hold the interreligious event at Istiqlal Mosque “is very interesting” given its proximity to the cathedral.

He said the two structures share a parking lot, and when one community holds a major event or during special, highly attended spiritual gatherings, the other will allow the use of its share of the parking spaces.

He said a tunnel was also built connecting the two as “a sign of fraternity, of friendship, of peace and of harmony” between Catholics, and Christians generally, and Muslims.

Construction on the cathedral began in 1890 and concluded in 1901, while the mosque was built in 1954. Work on the tunnel – called the “Friendship tunnel” or the “Brotherhood tunnel,” began in December 2020, and concluded almost a year later, in September 2021.

“We are very proud that this is the first tunnel between a church and a mosque in the world,” Fr Solo said, saying organisers of the papal visit “strongly hope that the Pope can pass through.”


Priests hope pope in Indonesia will walk ‘tunnel of fraternity’ (By Elise Ann Allen, Crux)