The Sudanese Christian who narrowly escaped death for her beliefs was finally out of Khartoum today and in safe hands at the Vatican.
Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Lapo Pistelli helped arrange Meriam Ibrahim’s departure from Sudan to Rome, according to Vatican Radio. Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi welcomed her at the airport.
Along with her husband, American citizen Daniel Wani, her son Martin and baby Maya, born in prison two months ago, Ibrahim met with Pope Francis for half an hour.
The pope thanked Meriam for her “courageous witness to perseverance in the Faith,” and she thanked the pontiff for his prayers.
Under intense international outcry, her death sentence was overturned last month but Sudanese officials kept her from leaving the country by questioning her travel documents.
The family’s next — and final — stop will be the United States.
“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,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).
“Meriam is just one of thousands, potentially millions, of Christians worldwide whose lives are in danger because of their religious beliefs,” he added. “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.”
The State Department’s report on international religious freedom is due for Monday release.
Rubio said that should be a time for the Obama administration to “back its words with actions.”
“This means targeting religious freedom violators with sanctions under existing law, as well as finally taking the long overdue step of filling the post of Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom,” said the senator. “There is no excuse for this important post to have gone vacant as it has for nine months.”