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Khartoum Archdiocese urges government to reconsider case against Catholic woman
Catholic News Service

KHARTOUM, Sudan — The Archdiocese of Khartoum has urged the judiciary to review the case against a Catholic woman who refused to renounce her faith and has been sentenced to death by hanging.

Meriam Ibrahim, 26, joined the Catholic Church shortly before she married U.S. citizen Daniel Bicensio Wani in December 2011, said a mid-June statement signed by Father Mussa Timothy Kacho, episcopal vicar for Khartoum.

She was convicted of apostasy by a court in Khartoum in mid-May for marrying a Christian. Sudan's penal code criminalizes the conversion of Muslims to other religions, which is punishable by death.

Her Sudanese Muslim father abandoned the family when she was 5, and she was raised according to her mother's faith, the statement said, noting that Ibrahim's mother was an Orthodox Christian from Ethiopia.

"She has never been a Muslim in her life," the archdiocese said.

Ibrahim is on death row in Omdurman prison, nursing her baby while in chains, the statement said. Her case is under appeal and "no one knows when the appeal court will decide on it," it said.

"There are many people trying to persuade Meriam to renounce Christianity in order to be freed, but she is refusing. Some people are pleading with her husband to convince her to abandon Christian faith in order to save her life, but to no avail," the archdiocese said.

"The Catholic Church -- Archdiocese of Khartoum -- expresses deep regret over the way the case is being handled in the court," with disregard of "Meriam's moral and religious beliefs," it said.

"We are pleading with the judiciary and other concerned authorities to review the case ... and to bring it to a reasonable end," it said.

In a May joint statement, Sudan's churches said the charges against Ibrahim are false and appealed to the Sudanese government to free her from prison.

She gave birth to a daughter in late May and her 1-year-old son is also in prison with her. Sudanese officials will not allow Wani, who lives in New Hampshire, to take custody of their son because, by law, a Christian man cannot raise a Muslim child.

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