Asia Bibi, the Catholic Pakistani mother sentenced to death for blasphemy, has written to Pope Francis saying that only God can liberate her.
“To His Holiness Pope Francis: in the name of our almighty and glorious Lord, I, Asia Bibi, would like to express my deepest gratitude to God and to you, Holy Father,” she began the letter, reported Dec. 31 in the Italian daily Tempi.
“I also hope that every Christian has been able to celebrate the Christmas just past with joy,” she added. “Like many other prisoners, I also celebrated the birth of the Lord in prison in Multan, here in Pakistan.”
She continued by saying that “only God will be able to free me” and made a point of thanking the ‘Renaissance Education Foundation’ that helped make her “dream come true” to live Christmas with her husband and children by bringing them to Multan. “I would have liked to be in St. Peter’s for Christmas to pray with you,” she told Pope Francis, “but I trust in God’s plan for me and hopefully it will be achieved next year.”
Bibi is awaiting the conclusion of an appeals process after being incarcerated for four and a half years without trial.
Working as a farmhand in June 2009, she was asked to fetch water for some of her co-workers. She complied, but some of her Muslim colleagues refused to drink the water as they considered Christians to be “unclean.” Some arguments ensued (there was already a running feud between Bibi and a neighbour over property damage), and witnesses maintain that Bibi verbally abused the two women, their religion, and the prophet Muhammad.
A few days later, complaints were made to a cleric about these alleged derogatory comments, resulting in a mob coming to her house and beating her and members of her family. Bibi was rescued by the police but, under pressure from the crowd, they charged her under Section 295 C of the Pakistan Penal Code, the country’s notorious anti-blasphemy law.
“I am very grateful to all the churches that are praying for me and fighting for my freedom,” she continued in the letter. “I do not know how long I can go on and on. If I am still alive, it is thanks to the strength that your prayers give me,” she said. “I have met many people who speak and fight for me. Unfortunately still to no avail. At this time I just want to trust the mercy of God, who can do everything, that all is possible. Only He can liberate me.”
Asia Bibi was also grateful to all the people who work and raise funds for her cause. She then recounted her everyday hardships. “This winter I am facing many problems: my cell has no heating and no suitable door for shelter from the bitter cold,” she told the Holy Father. “Also the security measures are not adequate, I do not have enough money for daily needs, and I am very far from Lahore so my family cannot help me.”
She concluded by asking Pope Francis to accept her best wishes for the new year. “I know you pray for me with all your heart,” she wrote. “And this gives me confidence that one day my freedom will be possible. Certain to be remembered in your prayers, I greet you with affection. Asia Bibi, your daughter in the faith.”
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