EXCLUSIVEDennis Rodman -- fresh from his basketball summit in North Korea -- is now setting his sights on fixing those pesky problems plaguing the Catholic Church ... because he's jetting to Rome today in hopes of meeting the new Pope.
Rodman tells TMZ ... his "people" in Rome have been in touch with the muckety mucks at the Vatican and they're trying to arrange a sit-down with the next person to don the big funny hat.
Rodman -- who wants to be there when the white smoke fills the air -- is gambling just a bit, because the Cardinals are voting today and Rodman won't land until late tonight. But our top Catholic source -- Shevonne -- tells us ... it's unlikely anyone will get the nod on the first vote.
As for what Dennis wants to accomplish ... he tells TMZ, "I want to be anywhere in the world that I'm needed ... I want to spread a message of peace and love throughout the world."
Rodman cites his March North Korean excursion -- where he met with leader Kim Jong Un -- as proof he's the right man to hash out a peace plan ... claiming he broke barriers in the DPRK nobody else could.