Pope Francis met with the father of Alfie Evans, a two-year-old suffering from an undiagnosed neurological condition in a hospital seeking the removal of his life support, and has opened the door to allowing the child to be transferred to Bambino Gesu in Rome.
Vatican News is reporting on the meeting which took place yesterday at the Pope’s Santa Marta residence. Msgr. Francesco Cavina, the bishop of Carpi, was in the meeting which was arranged just 24 hours earlier when a UK Court once again affirmed that the hospital where Alfie is being cared for can remove his life support against his parents’ wishes.
The case of little Alfie has drawn world-wide attention. Suffering from an unidentified degenerative neurological condition, he has been under continuous hospitalization since December, 2016 at the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool. In February, a court ruled that the hospital could stop treatment against his parents’ wishes, arguing that to continue treating the boy is not in the child’s best interest. His parents have been fighting the courts ever since.
Responding to the dire situation of Alfie Evans, the Church acted quickly to a request for help from Alfie’s parents.
As Bishop Cavina explained: “The meeting was decided yesterday morning, after I had received a request from Liverpool to see if it were possible for Alfie’s father, Thomas, to meet with the Holy Father, because there was the sentence of the Court of Appeals that reaffirmed the decision of the Court of First Instance, namely that the ventilator must be disconnected and this child should die. I must say that within 20 minutes the Holy Father expressed his desire to meet Thomas.”
Thomas Evans, 21, the boy’s father, flew to Rome for the 20-minute meeting in which the Holy Father listened intently to what he had to say.
Although admittedly nervous, Evans told the pope, “Our child is sick but not dying and does not deserve to die. He is not terminally ill nor diagnosed. We have been trying our best to find out his condition, to treat or manage it. I am now here, in front of Your Holiness, to plead for asylum. Our hospitals in the U.K. do not want to give disabled children the chance of life and instead assisting in the death of children.”
The Holy Father was impressed and told Evans, “I admire you for the courage you have, you are so young but you have the courage to defend your son’s life.”
Bishop Cavina observed, “At a certain point he even said that the courage of this father is similar to the love that God has for man in that He does not resign Himself to losing us. And I think that was the most moving moment.”
The pope reiterated his support for Alfie’s parents and then instructed Bishop Cavina to begin making the arrangements to accommodate the boy.
“The Holy Father has instructed me to maintain relations with the Secretary of State so that the Bambin Gesu’ will do all it can to welcome Alfie in its health care facility. And so that’s what we’re trying to do right now. It is clear that there are major difficulties from a legislative and legal point of view: let’s see if it is possible to overcome them.”
As he was leaving, the Pope told Evans, “Thomas, hope is only found where God is.”
Bishop Cavina said that Evans left the meeting feeling very heartened.
“At the end of the meeting, when we were alone, he was very moved and said: ‘I do not believe it! I do not believe what the Holy Father told me!’,” the Bishop told Vatican News.
“To come today they made an absurd journey: they had to go to Athens and then from Athens to Rome: so they practically traveled all night long, even physically deeply tired. In my opinion, not everything is solved. We have to say this, because if we cannot find a willingness on the part of the judges and the British hospitals, everything will become much more difficult, and everything runs the risk of remaining at an impasse like the one we are in now.”
He added: “We must continue to pray. I believe that everything that has been achieved in this period, even the mobilization that has taken place at the level of many people, is the fruit of prayer. We must truly say that the power of prayer is able to overcome all the obstacles that can be put in the way, so that the dignity of the person is respected.”
Click here to read more about Alfie Evans.
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