Pope Francis and Grand Ayatollah Sistani call for unity at Iraq meeting

Pope Francis

Pope Francis gives a blessing during his weekly general audience April 29, 2020, in the papal library in the Apostolic Palace. Concluding his series of audience talks about the Eight Beatitudes, the pope focused on the final one, "Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (CNS photo/Vatican Media) See POPE-AUDIENCE-PERSECUTION April 29, 2020.

Pope Francis visits Iraq: Pope Francis and Grand Ayatollah Sistani call for unity at Iraq meeting.

Pope Francis, 84, the head of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, and Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, 90, the spiritual leader of most of the world’s Shia Muslims, talked for almost an hour during the first ever papal visit to Iraq.

The Pope removed his shoes before entering Sistani’s room. The Muslim cleric, who normally remains seated for visitors, stood to greet Francis at the door of his room – a rare honour.

The closed-door meeting was to touch on issues plaguing Iraq’s Christian minority. Al-Sistani is a deeply revered figure in Shia-majority Iraq and and his opinions on religious and other matters are sought by Shia Muslims worldwide.

The Holy Father also visited Ur, the birthplace of Abraham our father in faith and said “From this place, where faith was born, from the land of our father Abraham, let us affirm that God is merciful and that the greatest blasphemy is to profane his name by hating our brothers and sisters”

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