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Pope Francis holds historic meeting with top Shia Islam cleric in Iraq Updated: 2021-03-06 12:12:09 KST

Pope Francis began the second day of his four-day stay in Iraq visiting Shia Muslim's holy city of Najaf.
There, he sat down with one of Shia Islam's most important figures.
Our Han Seong-woo has more.
A historic meeting between Christianity and Islam in the holy city of Najaf.
Day 2 of the first-ever papal visit to Iraq saw Pope Francis meet Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the reclusive spiritual leader of millions of Shia Muslims, on Saturday.
The Associated Press reports the closed-door meeting had been months in the making and touched on issues plaguing Iraq's Christian minority.
A day earlier, the Pope had spoken to bishops and other religious figures at the Our Lady of Salvation Church, the site of a bloody massacre committed by an affiliate of al-Qaeda in 2010.
"Their deaths strongly remind us that incitement to war, hating attitudes, violence, and bloodshed are not compatible with religious teachings. I want to remember all the victims of violence and persecution, whichever religious community they belonged to."
Following his talk with the top cleric, the Pope went to attend an inter-religious meeting on the plain of Ur, believed to be the birthplace of Abraham.
On his return to Baghdad later in the afternoon, the pontiff will celebrate Holy Mass at the Chaldean Cathedral of Saint Joseph.
Before departing for Rome on Monday, it's expected Pope Francis will speak directly to Iraq's reeling Christian community, which has shrunk considerably over the past three decades due to direct violence and those seeking asylum elsewhere.
He is also scheduled to stop by Mosul and see how the Islamic State's terrorism has damaged the country.
The pope's four-day visit marks his first international trip since the start of the pandemic.
Media outlets say Pope Francis and his entourage have all been vaccinated against COVID-19.
Han Seong-woo, Arirang News.
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