Rome Newsroom, Jan 28, 2021 / 08:00 am America/Denver (CNA).
Pope Francis will meet with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani during his trip to Iraq, a cardinal said on Thursday.
Cardinal Louis Raphaël Sako, the patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church, told AFP on Jan. 28 that the pope will have a private meeting with the top Shiite cleric in Iraq during the visit scheduled for March 5-8.
Ali al-Sistani is the Iranian-born leader of the Iraqi Shiite Muslim community. In 2014, he encouraged Iraqis to fight against the Islamic State, a Sunni terrorist group.
The Iraqi cardinal said he hoped that Pope Francis and the Shiite ayatollah would jointly sign the “Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together” that the pope first signed in Abu Dhabi with Sunni leader Ahmed el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of al-Azhar, in February 2019.
Sako first expressed his desire to see the pope sign a fraternity document like the one signed in Abu Dhabi with a Shiite Muslim leader during a panel discussion on religious liberty in July 2019. The cardinal said then that he would like Pope Francis to visit Najaf, a city in central Iraq considered one of Shia Islam’s centers of spiritual and political power.