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Pope Meets With Ayatollah Al Sistani While Claiming Interreligious Dialogue

“From this place, where faith was born, from the land of our father Abraham , let us affirm that God is merciful, and that the greatest blasphemy is to profane his name by hating our brothers and sisters. The hostility, extremism and violence are not born of a religious heart are betrayals religion . There will be no peace as long as our alliances are against others ”.

These are the words of Pope Francis , pronounced this Saturday in the ancient city of Ur , cradle of civilizations and the three monotheistic religions: it is in this place where he was born and lived part of his life, according to the Bible, Abraham. For Judaism, Christianity, and Islam , Abraham is a prophet.

And it has been this city that has focused the most important part of interreligious dialogue in the official visit that the Pope makes until Monday in Iraq . In Ur, Francis has met with representatives of the Christian, Shiite, Sunni, Yazidi and Sabae communities in Iraq.

Together, they have read passages from the Bible and the Koran that speak of this ancient city and the prophet who was born in it. “Brothers and sisters of different religions, here we are at home,” said the pontiff.

However, Saturday’s journey for the Pope had started with another event. It has been a historic one; the first time something like this happened: Francis has visited Ayatollah Al Sistani , the highest Shiite authority in Iraq and a figure of unparalleled moral and religious authority in Iraq at his home.

The meeting has been behind closed doors, but Al Sistani’s office has published a statement of what was spoken: “They have discussed injustices, oppression, poverty , persecution for ideology and religion and the absence of social justice.”

Al Sistani “has expressed to the Pope the role that great religious leaders should play in limiting all these tragedies.” “Christians, like all Iraqi citizens, must live in peace and security, and the religious authorities have to protect them and all others who have suffered injustice and pain in recent years,” said the highest Shiite authority. in Iraq.

Daúd and Hasan
After meeting Al Sistani, Francisco flew to the ancient city of Ur. There, in addition to reading religious texts, two friends, Daúd and Hasan , spoke .

The two, before the pontiff, have explained their story: both, one Christian and the other Muslim , tooth and nail from a young age, recently decided to open a business together. “We are not of the same religion, but we believe that our example shows that we can live together and be friends. We do not want war or violence or hatred . We want the people of our country to work together, and to be friends, ”Hasan explained.

“I have been affected by the testimony of Daúd and Hasan… They are building a future together. We need to achieve something good, especially for young people, ”said Francisco, who returned to Baghdad this Saturday afternoon , where he will celebrate a mass in the Chaldean Cathedral of San José , in the Iraqi capital.

“It is in our hands, especially among us believers, to turn instruments of hatred into instruments of peace . It is in our hands to appeal to the leaders of nations to stop the proliferation of weapons and give way to the distribution of food for all. Too many people in the world do not have enough food, medicine, education, rights or dignity ”, the pontiff continued.

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