History Made: Pope Francis Meets Grand Ayatollah Al Sistani in Najaf

Pontiff & Leader of Iraqi Shia Muslims Encourage Mutual Respect for Good of Iraq & All Humanity

Pope & Grande Ayatollah Al-Sistani © Vatican Media
Pope & Grande Ayatollah Al-Sistani © Vatican Media

History has been made as Pope Francis has private meeting with Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Al-Husayni Al-Sistani. This morning’s March 6 encounter in the Iraqi town of Najaf marks the first such encounter of any pope with leader of Iraqi Shia Muslims, one of most influential Muslim leaders in the world.

According to Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, in a statement, the courtesy visit lasted about forty-five minutes, during which “the Holy Father emphasized the importance of collaboration and friendship between religious communities because, by cultivating mutual respect and dialogue, we can contribute to the good of Iraq, the region and of all humanity.”

“The meeting,” Bruni continued, “was an opportunity for the Pope to thank the Great Ayatollah Al-Sistani because, together with the Shiite community, that in the face of the violence and the great difficulties of recent years, he has raised 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.”

Before leaving, the Vatican spokesman concluded, Pope Francis “reiterated his prayer to God,
Creator of all, for a future of peace and fraternity for the beloved Iraqi land, for the Middle East
and for the whole world.”