It’s not often that an Iranian Ayatollah addresses a Synod at the Vatican – in fact, until last week, it had never happened. But on Oct. 14, Ayatollah Seyed Mostafa Mohaghegh Ahmadabadi, popularly known as Mohaghegh Damad, gave an intervention at the Synod on the Middle East currently taking place in Rome, becoming the first Iranian Shi’ite Muslim ever to do so.
Speaking with him shortly after his speech, he discussed his relationship with the Iranian government and his controversial views on Israel but he also expressed concerns that secularism is leading to godless societies without values. A genial and somewhat eccentric Islamic scholar, he has a doctorate in law from the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium, and currently teaches law at Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran. A co-founder of the Common Word initiative which is trying to foster closer Catholic-Muslim relations, he said he has personally invited the Pope to visit Iran.
He was speaking Oct. 15 under the supervision of an Iranian government official at the country’s embassy to the Holy See in Rome.