After finally being able to leave Sudan, the woman who was sentenced to die for her Christian faith when she was pregnant visited Pope Francis today.
“Pope Francis was very tender with her, her husband, who was in prison, and thanked her for her courageous witness to perseverance in the Faith,” Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi said of the meeting in a statement.
Describing the meeting between the young family and the Roman Pontiff as “very serene and affectionate,” Fr. Lombardi explained that for him encounter was “a gesture of closeness and solidarity for those who suffer for their faith.”
According to Vatican Radio, Ibrahim and her husband Daniel Wani, a U.S. citizen, as well as their two children, 1 year-old Martin and two-month old Maya, who was born in prison, met the Roman Pontiff in the Vatican’s Saint Martha guesthouse at 1:00p.m. local time.
Senator Marco Rubio responded to Meriam’s release in an email to LifeNews.
“We should all be relieved and elated that Meriam and her children are finally free. As Christians around the world are being persecuted, attacked and even killed, Meriam’s freedom is good news in an otherwise depressing state of affairs. I want to thank all those who have been working tirelessly to secure Meriam’s freedom, particularly our Italian allies who helped deliver her and her family to their free soil over the past 24 hours,” he said.
“Meriam leaves behind a Sudan plagued by religious intolerance and laws that explicitly ban the universally guaranteed right of all people to practice their faiths as they wish. If we do not keep up the pressure on the Sudanese government to change, there will continue to be other Meriams,” he said. “Meriam is just one of thousands, potentially millions, of Christians worldwide whose lives are in danger because of their religious beliefs. The U.S. government must continue to make religious freedom a core of our global human rights agenda, by speaking out for those being denied it and using every tool at our disposal to pressure repressive governments to recognize the virtues of tolerance and religious pluralism.”
He, in turn, thanked Ibrahim and her family for their “courageous witness and constancy of faith.”
Francis also played with the children, 18-month-old Martin and 2-month-old Maya, and greeted the Italian diplomats involved in her journey to Italy.
With this gesture, the Vatican said, the Pope “desired to show his closeness, attention and prayer also to all those who suffer for their faith, in particular to Christians who are enduring persecution or limitations imposed upon their religious freedom.”
Ibrahim has said that her mother, an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian, raised her as a Christian.
She remained steadfast in her faith despite the threat of a death sentence, saying at her sentencing hearing in May: “I am a Christian, and I will remain a Christian.”