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In first, Pope Francis to receive top Sunni imam at Vatican

Pope Francis will meet the spiritual leader of the world’s Sunni Muslims in an unprecedented encounter at the Vatican on Monday, the pontiff’s spokesman says Thursday.

Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the grand imam of Cairo’s Al-Azhar, the most prestigious institution in Sunni Islam, will have an audience with the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics at St Peter’s, Father Federico Lombardi told AFP.

“This audience is being prepared and has been scheduled for Monday,” he says. “It will be a first.”

The visit marks the restoration of cordial relations between the two faiths. Ties were soured under Pope Benedict XVI after Francis’s now-retired predecessor made a September 2006 speech in which he was perceived to have described Islam as a violent religion.

AFP

Pope Francis leads a prayer vigil at St. Peter's Square in the Vatican, April 2, 2016. (AFP/Vincenzo Pinto)
Pope Francis leads a prayer vigil at St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican, April 2, 2016. (AFP/Vincenzo Pinto)

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