Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley celebrated the freedom of a Christian woman with New Hampshire ties who had been sentenced to death in Sudan for her religious beliefs and praised her faith Friday.
“Meriam’s commitment to her faith is inspirational, and it should encourage us to deeper faith and a willingness to share that faith with others,” O’Malley said of Meriam Yehia Ibrahim .
In a statement, the cardinal said he was pleased to hear about a meeting of Pope Francis and Ibrahim, 27, who was sentenced to death in her home country on charges of apostasy after she refused to renounce her Christianity.
Ibrahim would not recant her faith, but a Sudanese court overturned her death sentence and freed her from prison on June 23.
The following day she was arrested again on charges of forging travel documents. She was again freed on June 26.
“She fled Sudan with her daughter and her husband and made her first stop in Rome, where she had the opportunity to meet the pope,” O’Malley said. “He thanked her for her courageous witness to perseverance in the faith.”
After landing at Ciampino Airport in Rome, Ibrahim met with the pontiff for about 30 minutes.
She and her family were also welcomed by Italy’s prime minister, Matteo Renzi.
After the visit with Pope Francis, Ibrahim headed back to the United States with her two young children and her husband Daniel Wani, an American citizen who had lived in New Hampshire.
O’Malley, in his statement, also asked others to pray for “our Christian brothers and sisters in the Middle East who are suffering greatly these days because of their faith.”