The Vatican continues to prepare for the pope’s trip to Iraq, which is scheduled for March 5-8.
The cardinal of Baghdad, Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako, has announced that the pope will also visit the holy city of Najaf, the third most important for Shia Muslims, after Mecca and Jerusalem.
There he will meet privately with Ali Al-Sistani, the world’s most influential Shia leader and the country’s primary authority on moral and political matters.
They will discuss the document on universal human fraternity, which Pope Francis has already signed with the Sunni Muslim leader.
It’s an extremely important step with repercussions for the entire Muslim world, as between 15 and 25 percent of Muslims are Shia, primarily concentrated in Iran, Iraq and Azerbaijan.
The Iraqi Grand Ayatollah, 90, promotes the constitutional process in Iraq. He calls his followers to renounce violence and to not respond to attacks carried out by Sunni Muslims.