Pope Francis arrived today at the residence of the top Shiite Muslim cleric in southern Iraq for the first meeting ever held between leaders of the Roman Catholic Church and Shiite Islam.
Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali al-Husayni al-Sistani welcomed Pope Francis to the humble residence he has been renting for decades.
Their meeting took place behind closed doors and lasted almost an hour. The Argentine pope is reaching out to Shiite Islam after signing a document on “human brotherhood” with a leading Sunni Islamic institution two years ago, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed Mohamed Ahmed El-Tayeb.
“Iraqi Christians must live in peace,” Grand Ayatollah Sistani told Pope Francis
Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali al-Husayni al-Sistani told Pope Francis today that Iraqi Christians must “live in peace and security” and enjoy “all constitutional rights.”
It is the first time in history that the leader of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics met the Grand Ayatollah of Najaf.
The Grand Ayatollah assured the Pope that “he is very careful that Christian citizens live like all Iraqis in peace and security, enjoying all their constitutional rights,” the statement said.