Pope Francis to meet top cleric Sistani
International Live: Pope Francis begins the second day of his historic Iraq visit on Saturday with an extraordinary meeting with Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the top authority for the country’s Shiite Muslims.
The 84-year-old pontiff is defying a second wave of coronavirus cases and renewed security fears to make a “long-awaited” trip to Iraq, aiming to comfort the country’s ancient Christian community, while also deepening his dialogue with other religions.
“Ali Sistani is a religious leader with a high moral authority,” said Cardinal Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, the head of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and a specialist in Islamic studies. Sistani began his religious studies at the age of five, ascending through the ranks of Shiite clergy to grand ayatollah in the 1990s.
While Saddam Hussein was in power, he languished under house arrest for years, but emerged after the US-led invasion that toppled the repressive regime to play an unprecedented public role.
Following his visit to the Grand Ayatollah, the Pope will head to the desert site of the ancient city of Ur believed to be the birthplace of the Prophet Abraham where he will host an interfaith service, with many of Iraq’s other religious minorities in attendance.
Dhaka, 06 March (campuslive24.com)//AIT