Pope Francis meets with Grand Ayatollah Sistani in Najaf

Pope Francis meets with Grand Ayatollah Sistani in Najaf

Pope Francis on Saturday met with Iraq’s top Shia cleric Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in the holy city of Najaf.

AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): Pope Francis on Saturday met with Iraq’s top Shia cleric Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in the holy city of Najaf.

The one-hour meeting started at 9 am Iraq time with no press allowed.

The meeting with the senior Shia cleric is one of the highlights of Francis’ four-day trip to Iraq.

Pope arrived in Baghdad on Friday and was welcomed by Iraqi President Barham Salih.

This is the first visit the pontiff has embarked on since the pandemic hit the world.

He told reporters on his plane that he felt duty-bound to make the “emblematic” trip because the country “has been martyred for so many years.”

In a speech after being welcomed by Salih, the pontiff called for an end to violence and extremism.

“May the clash of arms be silenced...may there be an end to acts of violence and extremism,” he said.

He also criticized foreign meddling that have destabilized Iraq and the region and hit ordinary people the hardest.

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