Meriam Ibrahim, the Catholic mother in Sudan who was sentenced to death for ‘apostasy’ and then freed, would be “very glad” to come to the Vatican and meet the Pope one day.
Antonella Napoli, president of Italians for Darfur, who met the couple two days ago at the U.S. embassy in Khartoum, told Avvenire that a meeting the Pope “would be a great joy” for her and her husband, Daniel Wani.
The couple are “both very faithful,” Napoli added. “They met at church, thanks to his sister. They fell in love almost immediately. Then, in 2011, they were married. When I asked if prison had somehow changed her relationship with religion, she promptly responded ‘no’. The difficulties haven’t undermined her deep trust in God: ‘He will guide me,’ she repeated.”
Napoli told the Italian bishops’ newspaper “it was a privilege” to meet the couple days after Meriam was freed from custody. The 29 year old doctor was imprisoned for nearly ten months for converting to Christianity and gave birth while in shackles.
On May 15, a court condemned her to be hanged unless she “repented” or renounced her faith, causing an international outcry. But Meriam never turned her back on her Catholic faith, to which her mother also belongs.
After being freed, Meriam was almost immediately re-arrested, and then freed again last month. She has since sought refuge in the U.S. embassy, together with Daniel who is a U.S. citizen.
Napoli said her situation should be resolved soon, but time is always relative in Sudan, and Ramadan may prolong a resolution. She noted that because they are waiting for departure, Meriam and Daniel literally live with their suitcases ready.
“There were 4 or 5 bags on the floor, half open, as though they could go away at any moment,” Napoli said. “Their goal is to start a new life in New Hampshire where Daniel spends part of the year.”