Pope Francis Meets Iraqi Shiite Leader, Seeking to Build Ties With Islam
Pope Francis has met with Iraq’s most influential Shiite Muslim leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. The meeting was a historic event that sought to build bridges between Christians and Muslims. The two leaders spoke of religion being a cause of peace and protection of the vulnerable, among other topics such as Iraq’s Christian minority. Saturday’s summit marked the first time a Catholic pope and Shiite grand ayatollah met in Iraq.
Building relations between the two major world religions has been a major theme of Pope Francis’s trip to Iraq, which was controversial due to Covid-19 concerns and travel restrictions. Iraq is the 10th majority Muslim country Pope Francis has visited during his time as pope. Other prominent encounters have all been with leaders of Islam’s Sunni majority.