Ayatollah al-Sistani of Iraq’s Shia Islam community continues his efforts to forge positive relations with Christians worldwide. Shia Islam is the majority among Iraq’s Muslims. We hope for a welcome reception for this positive example for interfaith dialogue, including meetings with influential Christian figures.
This past week, the Shia leader met with a Community of Sant’Egidio delegation in Najaf. The Community of Sant’Egidio planned to visit Iraq to “participate in a symposium on the issue of coexistence and dialogue among faiths.” During the meeting, al-Sistani expressed solidarity with Iraqi Christians. He stated that Iraq’s Christian communities must survive, and that any violence against these communities would “pose a threat to the whole of Iraq.”
Grand Ayatollah Ali all-Husayni al-Sistani, the highest-ranked Shia in Iraq and son of religious scholars, met with Archbishop Giorgio Lingua, in the Shia holy city of Najaf just over a year ago. The Apostolic Nuncio to Iraq and Jordan’s purpose of the visit was to “visit Christian sites discovered in this city.”
During his travels, he granted the Shia religious leader “a courtesy visit” where the two discussed “a recent papal visit to Lebanon, which had significant results from the perspective of interfaith dialogue.”At the meeting, Ayatollah al-Sistani affirmed the possibility of Muslims and Christians coexisting “without hatred, respecting the beliefs of each other” for the purpose of building “together a free and humane society.”
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