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Pope Francis meets with Iraq’s top Shiite Muslim cleric

Pope Francis meets with top Shiite cleric in Iraq

The historic assembly in Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani’s residence was months within the making and can contact on points plaguing Iraq’s Christian minority.

NAJAF, Iraq — The video above is a message from Pope Francis for the folks of Iraq launched previous to his go to there.

Pope Francis is ready to fulfill with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, one of the vital senior clerics in Shiite Islam, in Iraq’s holy metropolis of Najaf on Saturday to ship a message of peaceable coexistence, urging Muslims to embrace Iraq’s long-beleaguered Christian minority.

The historic assembly in al-Sistani’s humble residence was months within the making, with each element painstakingly mentioned and negotiated between the ayatollah’s workplace and the Vatican.

The closed-door assembly will contact on points plaguing Iraq’s Christian minority. Al-Sistani is a deeply revered determine in Shiite-majority Iraq and his opinions on non secular issues are sought by Shiites worldwide.

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On the few events the place he has made his opinion identified, the notoriously reclusive al-Sistani has shifted the course of Iraq’s trendy historical past.

Within the years after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion he repeatedly preached calm and restraint because the Shiite majority got here beneath assault by al-Qaida and different Sunni extremists. The nation was however plunged into years of sectarian violence.

His 2014 fatwa, or non secular edict, calling on able-bodied males to battle the Islamic State group swelled the ranks of Shiite militias. In 2019, as anti-government demonstrations gripped the nation, his sermon result in the resignation of then-prime minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi.

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Pope Francis arrived in Iraq on Friday and met with senior authorities officers on the first-ever papal go to to the nation. It’s also his first worldwide journey because the begin of the coronavirus pandemic.

Iraqis have welcomed the go to and the worldwide consideration it has given the nation because it struggles to get well from a long time of conflict and unrest. Iraq declared victory in opposition to the Islamic State group in 2017 however nonetheless sees sporadic assaults.

It has additionally seen current rocket assaults by Iran-backed militias in opposition to U.S. navy and diplomatic services, adopted by U.S. airstrikes on militia targets in Iraq and neighboring Syria. The violence is linked to the standoff between the U.S. and Iran following Washington’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear accord and its imposition of crippling sanctions on Iran.

Winfield reported from Nassiriyah, Iraq.

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