Pope Francis holds meeting with Iraq’s top Shiite cleric


A historic meeting took place between Pope Francis and Iraq’s top Shiite cleric in the holy city of Najaf. They delivered a powerful message of peaceful co-existence and have urged Muslims in the war-weary Arab nation to embrace Iraq’s long-beleaguered Christian minority.
Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani stated that religious authorities have a role in protecting Iraq’s Christians, and that they should live in peace and enjoy the same rights as other Iraqis. Pope Francis thanked him for raising his voice in defense of the weakest and most persecuted group of people.

The 84 year old Pope’s convoy that was led by a bullet-proof Mercedes -Benz pulled up along Najaf’s narrow street. A group of Iraquis wearing traditional clothes welcomed him outside. Few white doves were released as a sign of peace. This very positive meeting lasted for about 40 minutes.The Ppe removed his shoes before entering al-Sistani’s room. He was served tea and a bottle of water. The Pope only drank the water before leaving.
He later arrived in the ancient city of Ur for an interfaith meeting aimed at urging Iraq’s Muslims, Christains and other believers to put aside all animosities and to work together for peace and unity. Iraqis cheered the meeting of the two respected faith leaders. Nearly 25,000 security forces were deployed ahead of the Pope’s arrival.



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