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Pope Francis meets top Shia cleric on day two of historical visit

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Pope Francis is on the second day of his momentous four-day visit to Iraq. Iraqi security forces are deploying nearly 10,000 personnel to protect the pope as he embarks on his first international trip since the coronavirus pandemic. Chris Livesay reports.

Video Transcript

- Pope Francis is on the second day of his momentous four-day visit to Iraq. Iraqi security forces are deploying about 10,000 personnel to protect him as he embarks on his first international trip since the outbreak of the pandemic. Chris Livesay is traveling with the Pope and reports on what has been an historic morning.

CHRIS LIVESAY: For the first time, Pope Francis and Iraq's senior Shia Muslim cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, joining behind closed doors over two faiths in a landmark encounter at the Ayatollah's home in the holy city of Najaf. Francis thanked him and the Shiite community for raising its voice in defense of the persecuted, affirming the sacredness of human life, a Vatican statement said.

After the Ayatollah, Francis traveled to meet with Iraqi members of each Abrahamic faith-- Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. The ancient city of Ur is said to be the birthplace of Abraham of the Old Testament. Today, it's the scene of a historic meeting with Pope Francis and members of three world religions that all call him their patriarch.

- [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

CHRIS LIVESAY: Hostility, extremism, and violence are not born of a religious heart, he said. They're betrayals of religion.

- [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

CHRIS LIVESAY: Overcoming such betrayals is a key theme of Francis's visit to Iraq, the first of any pontiff, as he witnesses the country's minority Christian community, among the oldest on Earth, dwindle amid decades of sectarian unrest.

We are under threat of extinction, says a Christian woman, if we stay like this with Christian families being displaced. If the Christians aren't protected, then immigration is the next step.

Yesterday, on his first day in the country, Francis prayed inside a Baghdad church where jihadists massacred dozens of people in 2010. And tomorrow, he'll head North to Iraq's Christian heartland where refugees once displaced by the Islamic State are now returning and preparing for the Pope. Francis will even visit the former ISIS stronghold of Mosul. Where once jihadists carried out wholesale slaughter and desiccation, Pope Francis will soon pray. For "CBS This Morning" Saturday, Chris Livesay, Ur, Iraq.