The Catholic Association Calls Out U.K. Catholic Leaders for Not Following Church Teaching in Alfie Evans Case
“I would like to reiterate and forcefully confirm that the only master of life, from the beginning to its natural conclusion, is God!” Pope Francis said before the General Audience after meeting with Alfie Evan’s father, Thomas Evans.
Alfie Evans is the ill 23-month-old held under court order at Alder Hey hospital in Liverpool, England. Monday the hospital removed life support, but Alfie lives — breathing on his own.
The Pope tweeted Monday afternoon, “Moved by the prayers and immense solidarity shown little Alfie Evans, I renew my appeal that the suffering of his parents may be heard and that their desire to seek new forms of treatment may be granted.”
Moved by the prayers and immense solidarity shown little Alfie Evans, I renew my appeal that the suffering of his parents may be heard and that their desire to seek new forms of treatment may be granted.
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) April 23, 2018
However, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales have not followed Pope Francis’ lead, according to Ashley McGuire of The Catholic Association. (For more information on TCA, see an earlier article.) The Catholic Bishops’ Conference put out a statement on Alfie’s situation last week, which McGuire pointed out defends the hospital, not Alfie. The statement reads:
Our hearts go out to the parents of Alfie Evans and our prayers are for him and with them as they try to do all they can to care for their son.
We affirm our conviction that all those who are and have been taking the agonising decisions regarding the care of Alfie Evans act with integrity and for Alfie’s good as they see it.
The professionalism and care for severely ill children shown at Alder Hey Hospital is to be recognised and affirmed. We know that recently reported public criticism of their work is unfounded as our chaplaincy care for the staff, and indeed offered to the family, has been consistently provided.
We note the offer of the Bambino Gesu Hospital in Rome to care for Alfie Evans. It is for that hospital to present to the British Courts, where crucial decisions in conflicts of opinion have to be taken, the medical reasons for an exception to be made in this tragic case.
With the Holy Father, we pray that, with love and realism, everything will be done to accompany Alfie and his parents in their deep suffering.
McGuire is disappointed that the Catholic leaders in the U.K. have “abandoned” Catholic social teaching and split from the Pope on this issue. “As a Catholic group, this is especially troubling,” she said in an interview with The Stream. “End of life decisions should be made with clear parameters. The Church has clear teachings — starting with the fact that it’s the right of the parents to decide whether to continue life support or take their child somewhere else to get the best care. The Catholic leadership isn’t standing up for those principles.”
Grazie Pozo Christie, M.D., is a policy advisor for TCA. She said that Alfie’s parents have a natural right to seek treatment in Italy and that Alfie shouldn’t be held hostage at a British hospital. “The failure of the British Catholic Bishops and so-called leaders like Catholic Voices of England to recognize these simple and basic truths is disgusting and shameful. We urge all faithful Catholics to stand with Pope Francis, who called on the British government to allow Baby Alfie’s parents to seek the alternative treatment that has been generously offered.”
Please continue to pray for Alfie and his parents.