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Pope Francis Thanks Al-Sistani for Speaking up in Defense of Most Vulnerable Sect

2021-03-09 - 2:22 am

Bahrain Mirror: The Vatican office issued a statement on the historic meeting between Pope Francis and Iraq's top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani in the holy city of Najaf.

The Vatican said Francis thanked Sistani for having "raised his voice in defence of the weakest and most persecuted" during some of the most violent times in Iraq's recent history.

The office of the supreme religious authority, Grand Ayatollah Al-Sistani said in a statement that the discussion with the Pope revolved around the great challenges that humanity faces in this era.

Al-Sistani talked about the injustice, oppression, poverty, religious and intellectual persecution, suppression of basic freedoms and the absence of social justice, especially the wars, acts of violence, economic blockade, displacement and so on, especially the Palestinian people in the occupied territories.

He indicated the role that the great religious and spiritual leaders should play in curbing these tragedies, and what is hoped for by urging the concerned parties - especially those with great powers - to prioritize reason and wisdom and to reject the language of war, stressing the importance of concerted efforts to consolidate the values ​​of harmony, peaceful coexistence and human solidarity in all societies.

Grand Ayatollah Al-Sistani praised the status and glorious history of Iraq as well as its people from various faiths. He also expressed his hope that Iraq would surpass its current ordeal soon. He affirmed his interest in Christian citizens living like all Iraqis in peace and security while preserving all their constitutional rights. He also pointed out part of the role that the religious authority played in protecting Iraqis and all those who had suffered injustice and harm in the incidents of past years, especially during the period during which the terrorists seized vast areas in several Iraqi provinces where they carried out criminal acts there.

The Vatican office issued a detailed statement about the meeting saying that "the pope stressed the importance of cooperation and friendship between religious communities in contributing, through the cultivation of mutual respect and dialogue, to the good of Iraq, the region and the entire human family."

It added that the meeting was an occasion for the pope to thank Al-Sistani "for speaking up, together with the Shiite community, in defense of those most vulnerable and persecuted amid the violence and great hardships of recent years."