Source: The Toledo Blade
On April 9, 2005 The Toledo Blade reported, "The unprecedented sight of dozens of spiritual leaders of the world's diverse religious groups gathering in Rome for a papal funeral testified to Pope John Paul II's lifelong efforts to promote interfaith dialogue and harmony, according to a leading scholar on religious pluralism...John Paul II achieved many interfaith firsts during his lifetime, including being the first Pope to visit a synagogue and a mosque. He also met with the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Buddhist leader, at least four times, and visited India, the world's largest Hindu nation, in 1991. '... At the Pope's initiative, [the event] included Hindus, Buddhists, Native Americans - leaders from across the religious spectrum,' [Diana] Eck said. 'The Day of Prayer for Peace increased the visibility of the papacy in promoting interfaith gatherings.' But there were some goals that eluded John Paul, including his hope of visiting Russia to bridge a historic rift with the Russian Orthodox Church. In August, Patriarch Alexy II, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, rebuffed the Pontiff's request and said he was not welcome in Russia."