Liaison office of Grand Ayatullah Sayyid Ali Al Sistani (L.M.H.L) in London, Europe, North and South America.
Last Thursday (9 March 2023), a delegation from the Vatican, headed by Cardinal Guisot the President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, conveyed the Pope’s letter to the office of the Grand Ayatollah Sistani, the Supreme Religious Authority of the world’s Shia Muslims.
The full text of the letter of Pope Francis to the Grand Ayatollah Sistani is as follows:
Your Eminence, Dear brother!
It is my pleasure to seize the opportunity to address you once again after two years have passed since our meeting in Najaf, which was worthwhile for me; A meeting that was a turning point in the path of interfaith dialogue and understanding between nations.
I remember and appreciate your fraternal dialogue and spiritual participation in noble issues such as showing solidarity and defense with the oppressed, as well as your adherence to the benefit of them, and your protection of the sanctity of life and the importance of the unity of the Iraqi people.
As the modern history of Iraq also teaches us, cooperation and friendship between believers in different religions is essential not only for the development of mutual respect but more than anything for the cohesion and harmony that contributes to the good of humanity.
Dear brother, we are both convinced that respect for the dignity and rights of every individual and group, especially the freedom of religion, thought and expression, is a source of confidence for the individual and society and cohesion and harmony between nations. Therefore, we, as religious leaders, should encourage civil society officials to try and strengthen a culture based on justice and peace and to strengthen political actions that protect the fundamental rights of all.
In fact, it is a necessary issue that the human family once again discovers the meaning of brotherhood and mutual acceptance as a practical answer to today’s challenges; Therefore, men and women of different religions who walk towards God in unison and unanimously, are invited to converge in the vast space of shared spiritual, human and social values and investing it in the direction of expanding morals and noble virtues that religions call for.
I wish that we Christians and Muslims together can always be witnesses of truth, love and hope in a world that is known for its many challenges and needs compassion and healing. I pray to the Almighty God for His Highness and your community and dear Iraq.
Vatican, 28 February 2023