Pope Francis condemned extremism in the name of religion during a historic visit to Iraq during which he spoke about the plight of the Christian minority.
Hostility, extremism and violence are “betrayals of religion,” he said during an interfaith prayer service on Saturday.
Iraq has been devastated by religious and sectarian violence, both against minorities and between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.
Pope Francis also visited one of the most powerful figures in Shiite Islam.
Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani received the head of the Roman Catholic Church at his home in the city of Najaf and said that Christians should be able to live in peace and security like all other Iraqis.
The meeting was seen as a symbolic moment of the Pope’s visit, which is his first international trip since the coronavirus pandemic began more than a year ago and the first papal visit to Iraq.
Covid-19 and security fears made it his riskiest trip to date.
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