The meeting took place in the holy city of Najaf and was the first meeting of the Pope with such a high-ranking Shiite cleric. It lasted 45 minutes.
After the meeting, Sistani called on world religious leaders to hold great powers to account and for wisdom and sense to prevail over war. He added Christians should live like all Iraqis in peace and coexistence.
In a statement, Sistani said, “Religious and spiritual leadership must play a big role to put a stop to tragedy ... and urge sides, especially great powers, to make wisdom and sense prevail and erase the language of war”.
Rafah Husein Baher, a member of the small, ancient Sabean Mandaean religion, thanked Francis for making the trip despite the many problems in the country, which include a surge in COVID-19 cases and a recent spate of rocket and suicide bomb attacks.
“Your visit means a triumph of virtue, it is a symbol of appreciation to Iraqis, Blessed is he who uproots fear from souls.”
The pope, who began his four-day visit to Iraq in Baghdad on Friday, was expected to say Mass later on Saturday at the capital’s Chaldean Cathedral of Saint Joseph.