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Pope Francis holds historic meeting with revered Shia cleric in Iraq's Najaf

March 6, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

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Pope Francis has held a historic meeting with revered Shia Muslim cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in Iraq's holy city of Najaf, according to al-Iraqiya state TV, on the second day of the pontiff's visit to the country.

Baghdad, Iraq (CNN)Pope Francis has held a historic meeting with revered Shia Muslim cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in Iraq's holy city of Najaf, according to al-Iraqiya state TV, on the second day of the pontiff's visit to the country.

The papal meeting with the 90-year old Sistani -- who rarely appears in public -- represented one of the most significant summits between a pope and a leading Shia Muslim figure in recent years.

Pope Francis's four-day tour of Iraq across six cities is the first papal visit to the country, and Francis' first trip outside Italy since the coronavirus pandemic began.

The Pope touched down in Baghdad on Friday, where he was met by Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.

Francis later met with clerics and other officials at a Baghdad church that was the site of a bloody 2010 massacre.

Francis has met with leading Sunni cleric Grand Imam Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb on several occasions in the past, famously co-signing a 2019 document pledging "human fraternity" between world religions.

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