The secret of the meeting between the Pope and the Ayatollah



 Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and Pope Francis met on March 6 in Najaf, Iraq.


That was almost thirteen hundred years later. After the seventh century, a Catholic Christian pope met with a top Shia spiritual leader.

 The 84-year-old Catholic cleric and 90-year-old Shia Grand Ayatollah Sistani met in a historic event. 

During this visit, the Pope approached the tomb of Hazrat Ali, the Caliph of Islam. Sistani's house is near this tomb, where two representatives of the two religions met for 50 minutes. 

Just as Jerusalem is important to Christians, so is Najaf to Shia Muslims.
The pope suddenly announced his visit to Iraq.

 According to the words of the Vatican, it is a pilgrimage of peace. But what was the real purpose of the visit on March 7?


His goal was to reassure Iraqi Christians who had fallen victim to the terrorist group IS. 

The Vatican is also talking about the message of brotherhood among people against religious sectarianism. 

On his way back, the pope told reporters that he solely supported the words of Ayatollah Sistani.

 According to the pope, Sistani told him, " religiously or creatively, all humans are brothers."

Ayatollah Sistani is the second most important Shiite cleric after Iran's Ayatollah Khamenei. He is not only a religious leader, but also a major figure in Iraqi politics.

 In 2003, when al-Qaeda leader Musab al-Jarqabi bombed Ayatollah Bakir al-Hakim in front of Imam Ali's shrine, Sistani prevented Shiites from retaliating. 

At that time, the American occupation of Iraq was so great that Sistani did not want any conflict between the Shia-Sunni sect that would help to win the American "divide and rule" game.  

Undoubtedly, America would get the advantage of that Shia-Sunni war.

In 2014, Sistani single-handedly resisted his country people from bloody conflict after the killing of a popular Shiite youth leader in Najaf, the commander of the Sadar forces, Muqtada al-Sadr by the US-Iraqi campaign and opposed them strongly.

In 2014, Sistani issued a fatwa declaring it legal for Iraqi civilians to carry weapons against IS. 

In this way, he effectively encouraged armed Iraqi resistance. These Iraqi militias later played a key role in the expulsion of IS mercenaries from Iraq under the able leadership of General Soleimani of Iran. 

The name of this militia force is Popular Mobilization Unit (PSU). It is an alliance that includes Iraqi patriots and pro-Iranians.

Pope John Francis told reporters that he was influenced by Sistani. Sistani seemed to be his ‘saintly man’, seemed to belong to God.

 ‘Anyone who listens to him will think so,’ said the pope. He is a man who has wisdom and divine intuition. 

Even Pope demanded that Sistani told him,' This is the first time in the last 10 years that someone has come to Sistani who has no political motive. '

The meeting took place at Sistani's middle-class home in Najaf. Surprisingly, Sistani had no one but a translator.

 He kept his spokesman and political and religious allies away from the meeting. In contrast, the pope was accompanied by four leaders of the Vatican and Iraqi Christians.

Even if Sistani says so, the pope must have a political motive. Pope has raised the question of the interests of Christians fleeing the persecution of IS to the Iraqi government and Iraq's influential Shiite leader.

 In the pope’s words, Sistani was ‘respectful’ to him and the pope felt honoured. Sistani, 90, does not usually leave the seat at the time of any honourable person's departure. But for the pope, he stood up and greeted him twice in Islamic way.

At a time when the American media is constantly talking about the Shia threat, identifying Shia ayatollahs as a source of terror and unrest, there is also the politics of the pope's portrayal of an important Shia leader as such a beacon. 

That politics is for peace, that politics is against war and communal violence. But reports of the pope's visit to the Western media did not reflect the warmth of the meeting between the two sides. 





The BBC reports that the pope only went to see the churches destroyed by IS. The English-language edition of Deutsche Welle, a German government media outlet, quoted the pope as saying the visit was "tiring".

Some say that the pope has entirely appreciated the Ayatollah of Iraq. 

But the Ayatollah of Iraq is also Iranian by birth and in the Shiite world, he is in favour of Iran and strongly opposed to the US occupation of Iraq. 

The pope recently wrote a letter to Iran's Ayatollah Shirazi. Tehran has its embassy in Vatican City.

Despite the blossoming reception of friendship, differences remain on both sides. While IS was killing Shia-Sunnis, Christians and Yazidis in Iraq, Muslim and Christian fighters fought shoulder to shoulder.

 But the pope's statement does not mention those Muslims who have given their lives to fight IS and protect Christians. 

For this reason, Sistani did not feel the need to make a joint statement with the Pope. As he did earlier in Abu Dhabi after meeting with the Sheikh of Al-Azhar.

Sistani's statement address US hegemony, called for an end to the occupation, and condemned US terrorism and blockades.

 International media also reported that the pope's office had been trying for months to normalize Baghdad's relations with Israel.

 In response, Sistani sternly said that this was impossible until Palestine became independent. The Vatican has since raised the issue. But Sistani did not leave. 

In his statement, he made it clear that the Vatican had not done enough for Iraq. From 2014 to 2017, when thousands of Shiite fighters gave their lives to defend other Iraqis, including Christians, the Vatican did not even state support of them. 

But among the PMU fighters were not only Shiites but also people of other religions.

There is a strange list in the world; That is the list of terrorists made by America. 

Fighters fighting against IS are also terrorists to them. A list of the only Christian fighters in the world is also listed. 

They are anti-IS Christians. Last February, the Biden-Harris duo ordered a large-scale bombing of their positions in Iraq.

Francis returned bo the Vatican. But this meeting of two religious leaders from the East and the West could help reduce mistrust between the people of these religions.

 The meeting will also send a message to the Biden administration against tougher sanctions against Iran.

 It cannot be reduced to mere interfaith harmony. It remains to be seen how much impact this event will have on the return of humanity to the war-torn and monarchy-ridden Middle East.

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