Pope Francis could make a flying visit to Scotland in September, according to reports.
The Pope has “pencilled in” a short visit to St Andrews to sign a charter calling on all faiths to unite against extremism, the Sunday Times reports.
Mario Aguilar, professor of religion and politics at St Andrews University, received a letter from Rome, via the Vatican embassy in London, saying that the invitation to the Pope was being considered.
“My understanding is that Pope Francis is interested and has put [the event] on his agenda of activities and that further arrangements will be discussed,” Aguilar, who has met Francis on several occasions and wrote a biography of the Pontiff in 2014, told the Sunday Times.
He added: “I have had an indication that his visit is being considered. If he agrees to come, it will be in a private capacity in response to an academic invitation. It would not be a pastoral visit.”
The Pope has regularly spoken out against religious extremism. Last year, after the shootings at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris, he urged “religious, political and intellectual leaders, especially those of the Muslim community, (to) condemn all fundamentalist and extremist interpretations of religion which attempt to justify such acts of violence.”
Pope Francis’s trip to Scotland, which would probably take place over the course of one day, would follow Benedict XVI’s visit to the country in 2010.
St Andrews has designated 2016 as a “year of inter-faith dialogue”, with a programme of lectures and events scheduled.