After receiving a letter from His Holiness Pope Francis on the two year anniversary of their historic meeting in Najaf, Iraq, Ayatullah Sayyid al-Sistani recently wrote back to the Pontiff. The English translation and link to the original are below.

In the Name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful

Honorable Pontiff, Pope Francis, Head of State of Vatican City

Greetings with respect and appreciation,

I was pleased to receive the kind letter that you sent to me on the second anniversary of your historic visit to Iraq, and the meeting that brought me in your company in the most holy city of Najaf. That important meeting became an incentive for many followers of the Islamic and Christian religions, and even others as well, to show greater tolerance and peaceful coexistence with those who differ from them in religion and belief.

In your honorable message, you referred to some of the topics that we emphasized in that wonderful meeting, including the importance of concerted efforts to promote a culture of peaceful coexistence, rejection of violence and hatred, and the establishment of the values of harmony among people, which is based on caring for rights and mutual respect between adherents of different religions and intellectual views.

I share your opinion on the need to exert more effort to defend the oppressed in various parts of the world, noting that the tragedies that many people and ethnic and social groups suffer in many places in the east and west are a result of intellectual and religious persecution practiced against them. Moreover, it is the suppression of basic freedoms and the absence of social justice that plays a role in the emergence of certain extremist movements that do not hesitate to attack others who differ from them in thought or belief, and I consider it important for everyone to pay greater attention to redressing these grievances (i.e., of those who are targeted), and to work as much as possible in order to achieve a decent measure of justice and tranquility in society because it will certainly contribute to reducing the phenomena of hatred and violence in general.

It is important for me to refer here to what has been previously emphasized about the basic role of faith in God Almighty and His messages and adherence to lofty moral values in overcoming the great challenges of this era that are facing humanity, which has an urgent need to secure sound spiritual and moral elements in life and preserve family and its values as God intrinsically instilled. As stated in the Glorious Qur’an (Indeed, the most honorable of you in the sight of God is the most pious of you).

In conclusion, I repeat my prayer to the Almighty God to inspire all of us to be right in word and action and to bestow goodness, righteousness, and peace on all humankind as befits His vast mercy and boundless giving.

I also express to your honorable self my wish for health, safety, and recovery from the ailment that afflicted you recently.

Najaf al-Ashraf
14 Dhu al-Hijjah, 1444 A.H.
Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani
Signature / Seal

Link to Original:

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