Pope Francis meets powerful Shia cleric in Iraq

March 6, 2021 - 11:31

Pope Francis is holding a symbolic meeting with one of the most powerful figures in Shia Islam on the second day of his landmark trip to Iraq.

The Pope's encounter with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the spiritual leader of millions of Shia Muslims, is taking place in the holy city of Najaf.

It is the Pope's first international trip since the start of the pandemic - and the first-ever papal visit to Iraq.

Covid-19 and security fears have made this the pontiff's riskiest trip yet.

The 84-year-old leader of the Catholic church earlier told reporters that he felt "duty-bound" to make the "emblematic" journey, which will see him visit several sites over four days in Iraq.

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