Pope Francis has arrived at the home of Grand Ayatollah Ali al Sistani – southern Iraq’s top shi’ite cleric – in a historic meeting of Catholic and Shi’ite Muslim leadership.
It’s part of the first ever papal visit to the Gulf state this weekend.
“A core purpose of his visit is interfaith dialogue, and that is the theme of today,” Sky’s Middle East correspondent Mark Stone says.
“He is at the moment meeting .. the most senior shi’ite cleric in Iraq and one of the most senior Muslim figures in the world.
“It is a hugely significant moment that these two elderly men, the Pope is 84 the Ayatollah is 90, should meet and should chat and will pray together – a very significant moment and an attempt by the Pope to make the point that… interfaith dialogue is at his core.
“It is incredible that he has managed to get here, everyone thought that the trip would have to be cancelled – not just because of the security concerns but because of coronavirus as well.
“The Vatican is making the point that social distancing is in force that crowds are not large but having seen the crowds in one small town yesterday anticipating his arrival, I think that is going to be very very hard to do.”