Vatican: Iraqi Shiite top leader and Pope reaffirm coexistence

Vatican: Iraqi Shiite top leader and Pope reaffirm coexistence

Shafaq News/ After the historic meeting with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the Vatican issued a statement on Saturday thanking the top-Shiite leader for defending the persecuted people.

The Vatican said Pope Francis thanked Al-Sistani and the Shiite people for having “raised his voice in defense of the weakest and most persecuted” during some of the most violent times in Iraq’s recent history.

He said al-Sistani’s message of peace affirmed “the sacredness of human life and the importance of the unity of the Iraqi people.”

 The Vatican said the historic visit was a chance for Francis to emphasize the need for collaboration and friendship between different religious communities.

The pope also called for religious communities to work together.

“(He) underlined the importance of collaboration and friendship between religious communities so that, by cultivating mutual respect and dialogue, we can contribute to the good of Iraq, of the region,” the Vatican said in a statement after the meeting, which lasted about 45 minutes. For its part, Al-Sistani’s office said, “Religious and spiritual leadership must play a big role to put a stop to tragedy ... and urge sides, especially great powers, to make wisdom and sense prevail and erase the language of war”.

Great powers must “not sponsor their own self-interest at the expense of the right of people to live in freedom and dignity”, he said, adding that Christians should live like all Iraqis in peace and coexistence.

Al-Sistani wished Francis and the followers of the Catholic Church happiness, and thanked him for taking the trouble to visit him in Najaf, the statement said.

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