Alfie Evans campaigners criticised by Archbishop of Westminster

04 May 2018

PA

Supporters of Alfie Evans’s celebrate his life by releasing balloons in Springfield Park, next to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, in Liverpool, on Saturday

Supporters of Alfie Evans’s celebrate his life by releasing balloons in Springfield Park, next to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, in Liverp...

THE RC Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, has said that some of those who led the campaign surrounding Alfie Evans, the child who died last week after being the centre of a legal battle, “used the situation for political aims”.

Cardinal Nichols said that it was right that courts should “decide what’s best, not for the parents, but for the child”.

Alfie’s parents, Kate James and Thomas Evans, announced that their 23-month-old son had died on Saturday. In a Facebook post, they said: “Our baby boy grew his wings tonight at 2.30 a.m. We are heartbroken. Thank you everyone for all your support.”

He died at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, in Liverpool, despite his parents’ hope that he might be well enough to be transferred to his home. Doctors at the hospital were granted permission to turn off his life support on Monday of last week, after a final High Court appeal, having concluded that his condition — an unidentified degenerative neurological disorder — was untreatable. Prolonging his life would be “unkind and inhumane”, the doctors argued.

Alfie’s parents repeatedly appealed against rulings given in favour of the doctors, and took the case to the Supreme Court, with the help of the Christian Legal Centre, which is connected to the conservative Evangelical lobby group Christian Concern.

They had argued that Alfie should be transferred to the Bambino Gesù Hospital, in Rome, which is linked to the Vatican, to explore new treatment options.

Cardinal Nichols told the KAI Catholic news agency, in Poland: “Wisdom enables us to make decisions based on full information, and many people have taken a stand on Alfie’s case in recent weeks who didn’t have such information and didn’t serve the good of this child. Unfortunately, there were also some who used the situation for political aims.

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“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.

“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. . .

“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.”

The leadership of Alder Hey Hospital said that they had been shocked by abuse levelled at staff, which led to a large police presence at the site. But, by Thursday of last week, Alfie’s parents appeared to have accepted the medical advice from Alder Hey, and asked their supporters to stand down.

On Saturday, supporters released blue and purple balloons in Springfield Park, next to Alder Hey Hospital, and sang “You’ll never walk alone.”

Paul Vallely, page 13; Press, page 27

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