LONDON, ENGLAND – The leading Catholic cardinal in Britain is coming under fire today for joining the chorus of those who are defending the children’s hospital that ended Alfie Evans’ life.
Britain’s leading Catholic official has praised the staff of Alder Hey Children’s Hospital for how it treated Alfie Evans even though it fought to yank his life support over his parents’ consent and withheld food and water for over 24 hours after it won a court order to remove the life support. This is the same hospital that was once embroiled in a controversy surrounding the selling of children’s organs after surgery.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster blamed pro-life advocates and supporters of Alfie’s family saying they “sought political capital” while doctors were only concerned with Alfie’s welfare. The Catholic Cardinal also argued that England’s courts were right to override the wishes of Alfie’s parents saying that “a court must decide what’s best not for the parents, but for the child.”
During a visit to Poland on Sunday, the cardinal reportedly criticised people who “sought political capital” from the case, and said some who took a stand on the case “didn’t serve the good of the child”.
“It’s important to remember Alder Hey Hospital cared for Alfie not for two weeks or two months, but for 18 months, consulting with the world’s top specialists – so its doctors’ position that no further medical help could be given was very important,” he said, according to The Tablet.
“The Church says very clearly we do not have a moral obligation to continue a severe therapy when it’s having no effect, while the Church’s Catechism also teaches that palliative care, which isn’t a denial of help, can be an act of mercy. Rational action, spared of emotion, can be an expression of love; and I’m sure Alfie received this kind of care.
“It’s very hard to act in a child’s best interest when this isn’t always as the parents would wish – and this is why a court must decide what’s best not for the parents, but for the child,” he added.
His comments come amid growing criticism of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. Pope Francis, along with world leaders such as President Andrzej Duda of Poland and President Antonio Tajani of the European Parliament, called for authorities to respect the wishes of Alfie’s parents, who wanted to transfer him to Italy. The Italian government also granted the infant citizenship to help enable this.
However, the English and Welsh bishops defended the hospital and courts, saying in a statement earlier this month 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.”
Meanwhile, as LifeNews reported, British prime minister Theresa May defended the hospital. She argued that medical experts ought to be the ones to make decisions in such cases as opposed to parents and family.
But Terri Schiavo’s brother Bobby Schindler disagrees and told LifeNews that courts should never have prevented Afie’s parents from caring for their son, who ultimately died on Saturday less than a week after doctors yanked his life support without their consent.
The head of the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network told LifeNews: “Like Tom and Kate Evans, I know how terrible it is to be powerless to care for a loved one, but I cannot imagine the unique tragedy of being prevented from caring for a child in the way that the United Kingdom and European Courts barred them from exercising what so many recognize as their basic parental rights to provide care.”
“We will honor Alfie’s memory,” concluded Schindler, “and we will do whatever we can to affirm the value of every life, regardless of condition and the right of every parent to care for their children in a life-affirming way.”
Carol Tobias, the president of the National Right to Life Committee, told LifeNews that people need to be very clear about what happened with Alfie. She says he was “sentenced to death” by courts and doctors. She says what happened to Alfie and his parents needs to never happen to get to any other child or patient.
The pro-life leader placed the blame for his death squarely on judges and hospital officials who claimed Alfie was too far gone to save.
“Let’s be clear: Alfie Evans was sentenced to death by Britain’s National Health System and the High Court. Their intransigent commitment to the country’s faulty single-payer health system led them to conclude it was better for Alfie to die than leave the country and receive potentially life-saving treatment elsewhere,” Tobias said.
Alfie Evans ended up dying very early Saturday morning after the children’s hospital that was supposed to provide him with appropriate medical care and treatment disconnected his life support without his parents’ permission. That action came after a long and extensive legal battle between Alfie’s parents and Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, with the British court system agreeing with doctors by saying that Alfie was supposedly too far gone for additional care and treatment or experimental medical treatment to possibly help his neurological condition.
Alfie supposedly suffered from a degenerative neurological condition and administrators at Alder Hey, which is a National Health System Foundation Trust, sought, and received, approval from the High Court to discontinue treatment in direct opposition to the wishes of Alfie’s parents. The High Court’s decision was met with outcry around the world, and was condemned by world leaders including European Parliament President Antonio Tajani, Polish president Andrezej Duda, and Pope Francis.
Bambino Gesu hospital in Rome offered to treat Alfie and he was granted Italian citizenship to expedite his transport to Italy. However, the High Court prohibited Evans and James from removing their son from Alder Hey.
In posts on Facebook, Alfie’s mother and father confirmed his passing.
“Our baby boy grew his wings tonight at 2:30 am. We are heart broken. Thank you everyone for all your support,” she wrote.
“My gladiator lay down his shield and gained his wings at 02:30 absolutely heartbroken,” the boy’s father Tom Evans wrote on Facebook.
Family friend Laura McKenzie said: “Tom and Kate really appreciate everyone coming and showing their love.
“The whole world showed how much Alfie was loved and we’ll never, ever, ever forget him or his name. No one will.”
“I am deeply moved by the death of little Alfie. Today I pray especially for his parents, as God the Father receives him in his tender embrace,” the pope tweeted on Saturday.
The legal battle sparked anger nationwide in England but also internationally as people stood up for Alfie’s parents and strongly opposed courts and hospitals making life and death decisions for patients over their families objections.
There is concern that the hospital contributed to his death.
As LifeNews reported, after removing his life support without permission, officials at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital waited 28 hours before finally feeding the 23-month old boy, who was fighting a rare neurological condition. Alfie’s Father Tom Evans confirmed at the time that his son was finally being fed but he condemned hospital officials for waiting so long to finally get him the nutrition he needs.
“They only started feeding him at one ‘o’clock yesterday. It’s disgusting how he’s being treated,” Evans said. “Not even an animal would be treated like this. He’s proving them wrong. It’s time to give him some grace and dignity and let him go home or to Italy.”
The other day, Alfie’s parents changed course and decided to end their battle.
Alfie Evans’ father Tom Evans called for supporters of Alfie and his family to “stand down” so they can begin “building a bridge” with Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and its staff. The statement from Alfie’s father was surprising given the animosity that had developed between the Evans family and the hospital. Hospital officials have spent months in court preventing Alfie’s family from taking him to a hospital in Italy or even taking him home. Hospital officials even went as far as misleading courts by saying that they never said Alfie would die quickly after his life support was removed — even though they initially said Alfie would die within minutes after yanking his life support over his parents’ objections.
But perhaps seeing that there was little opportunity left to fight for Alfie’s rights and their right to take him abroad or take him home or sensing a need to appease the hospital to bring him home, Tom Evans struck a conciliatory tone.
Alfie’s parents had hoped to take the little boy to the hospital in order to potentially get experiemental treatment that could help his rare degenerative neurological condition but courts repeatedly denied that. Justice Hayden ruled that Alfie’s family would not be able to fly him to Italy for treatment and appeared to say that this was the final decision related to his case. He said flying Alfie to Italy could harm his health because, as court testimony indicated, the flight could trigger possible “continuous seizures due to stimulations” of the flight. But Alfie’s parents are concerned Alfie will die if he doesn’t get care and possible experimental treatment in Italy.
And Italy’s Healthcare Chief has slammed the decisions by UK courts to treat Alfie the way that they had. The President of the Italian National Institute of Health lambasted the UK High Court’s decision yesterday on Alfie Evans’ that resulted it the children’s hospital being allowed to remove life support over Alfie’s parents’ objections.
Members of Parliament are leading a new campaign for a law to prevent the tragic situation happening to Alfie Evans and his parents from happening to any other family. The new campaign calls on MPs to debate the matter in the House of Commons – with potential plans for “Alfie’s Law.”
Alfie Evans is not the first little boy to be held hostage by the court system and the healthcare system. There have been many other cases where courts and doctors have made the life or death decisions for a patient over the objections of their family.
One of those cases involved a little boy named Charlie Gard. In essentially the exact same circumstance, the British courts decided that his parents did not have the right to make the decision whether his life support was disconnected and a hospital yanked his life support without their consent. Charlie ultimately died not long after that happened. Chris Gard and Connie Yates’ little boy passed away just before 1st birthday in July 2017.