Transcript for Pope Francis denounces religious extremism during Iraq visit
Overseas, pope Francis denouncing religious extremism, reaching out to muslims in a historic visit to Iraq. Meeting with the top shia cleric in his home. The ayatollah saying Christians should be able to live in peace and security like all other Iraqis. The pope today celebrating the first ever papal mass in Iraq. And ABC's Ian Pannell is there. Reporter: Tonight, the first ever papal mass in Iraq, a country home to Christians since the 1st century. A heavy mix of cheers, songs and incense greeted pope Francis. This historic trip means so much to so many, but above all, to the dwindling numbers of the earlier the pope held a ground-breaking meeting with a top shia cleric in Iraq, grand ayatollah Ali Al sistani. Walking the narrow streets, Francis removed his shoes before meeting one of the most revered and influential religious leader in the region. In a major move, the grand ayatollah offering protection to Iraq's beleaguered Christians. Whose numbers have collapsed in the last 20 years. It was an unprecedented meeting between the head of christianity and a leader of shia muslims and sends a powerful message. There was also a pilgrimage to what's believed to be the birthplace of the Abraham, the patriarch after christianity, Jude judaism. He condemned extremism and violence as a betrayal of religion. But delivering the hope and reconciliation they all crave will take more than prayers. Ian Pannell joins us from irbil. Where pope will hold the biggest mass of his trip tomorrow. Ian, he's also going to mosul where ISIS first declared their caliphate. Reporter: That's right. Seven years ago, Abu Bakr Al baghdadi also declaring ISIS would occupy Rome. Imagine the irony that Rome, pope Francis, is going to mosul instead in a peaceful pilgrimage. A scene unimaginable a year ago. Whit?
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