Pope Francis holds historic meeting with revered Shia cleric in Iraq’s Najaf

The 45-minute papal conference in the holy city of Najaf with the 90-year old al-Sistani — who hardly ever appears in public — represented among the most considerable tops in between a pope and a leading Shia Muslim figure in current years.

Throughout the conference, broadcast on al-Iraqiya state TELEVISION, al-Sistani thanked Francis for making an effort to take a trip to Najaf and informed him that Christians in Iraq need to live “like all Iraqis in security and peace, and with their full constitutional rights,” according to a declaration launched by the Grand Ayatollah’s workplace.

The Pope in turn thanked al-Sistani and the Shia Muslim neighborhood for “[raising] his voice in defense of the weakest and most persecuted, affirming the sacredness of human life and the importance of the unity of the Iraqi people,” according to a declaration from the Holy See.

The Pope likewise worried the value of partnership and relationship in between spiritual neighborhoods.

Pope Francis’s four-day trip of Iraq throughout 6 cities is the very first papal see to the nation, and Francis’ very first journey outside Italy because the coronavirus pandemic started.

After Najaf, the Pope took a trip to Nasiriya, where he held an inter-religious conference on the plain of Ur, thought about the birth place of Abraham.

In Ur, the Pope discussed the violence that has actually afflicted Iraq over the last few years. “All its ethnic and religious communities have suffered. In particular, I would like to mention the Yazidi community, which has mourned the deaths of many men and witnessed thousands of women, girls and children kidnapped, sold as slaves, subjected to physical violence and forced conversions,” he stated.

In the speech, Francis likewise applauded the healing efforts in Northern Iraq, where ISIS terrorist ruined archaeological sites, churches, abbeys and other locations of praise. “I think of the young Muslim volunteers of Mosul, who helped to repair churches and monasteries, building fraternal friendships on the rubble of hatred, and those Christians and Muslims who today are restoring mosques and churches together,” he stated.

The Pope touched down in Baghdad on Friday, where he was fulfilled by Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi. Francis later on fulfilled with clerics and other authorities at a Baghdad church that was the website of a bloody 2010 massacre.

Iraq has actually enforced an overall curfew for the totality of the four-day papal see to reduce health and security threats. Francis is arranged to leave Iraq on Monday.

Francis has actually fulfilled with leading Sunni cleric Grand Imam Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb on a number of celebrations in the past, notoriously co-signing a 2019 file vowing “human fraternity” in between world religious beliefs.

CNN’s Tamara Qiblawi, Delia Gallagher and Aqeel Najm added to this post.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.