Alfie Evans’ chaplain ‘forced to leave England’ by Church hierarchy: report
LONDON, May 8, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — The Italian priest who ministered to Alfie Evans and his family before being recalled from Alder Hey hospital has left England.
Don Gabriele Brusco, who had been an assistant parish priest at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in London for almost a year, returned to Italy, the parish office confirmed.
According to the Italian Catholic newspaper La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana, Brusco was “forced to leave England.” It reported that plans for the priest’s departure became concrete on May 2 after he had an interview with an auxiliary bishop of the Westminster diocese, John Sherrington. Allegedly the conversation led Brusco to withdraw his request to be incardinated in the diocese.
“He must also leave England at once and will not therefore participate in little Alfie’s funeral, planned for next Friday,” wrote LNBQ’s Riccardo Cascioli. “It’s the last disgrace for the English Catholic hierarchy, which comes out of this matter in pieces.”
Brusco belongs to the Institute of the Legion of Christ. During the last week of Alfie Evans’ life, he learned that the Evans family wanted a Catholic chaplain and traveled from London to Liverpool. He presented himself at Alder Hey hospital and remained with the family for three days, giving Alfie both the sacrament of Confirmation and the sacrament of the sick. He also exhorted medical staff not to participate in Alfie’s death; this led to complaints being made to the Diocese of Liverpool.
LNBQ earlier reported that an auxiliary bishop of Liverpool, Thomas Williams, telephoned Brusco and quizzed him for 1 ¾ hours about his presence at Alder Hey. After this, Father Brusco “remained at his post.” However, after the Archbishop of Liverpool, Malcolm McMahon, visited Pope Francis in Rome, “Vatican support began to falter.”
The Italian newspaper reported that Cardinal Vincent Nichols, through his auxiliary, Bishop Sherrington, wrote to Brusco, asking him to return to his parish in London. (Another report says Brusco, after being barred from Alfie’s room by hospital staff, was recalled in the evening by his parish priest.)
Caroline Farrow told LifeSiteNews that a witness to Father Brusco’s expulsion from Alder Hey said the priest was “suffering.”
“He has suffered and is suffering greatly for his loving assistance to Alfie and his family when it was both needed and called for,” said the Catholic mother, a Liverpool resident.
“One of the saddest moments of last week was the moment when he exited the hospital for the last time, having been thrown out. We awaited him outside.”
“We continued to pray outside,” she continued. “Father (Gabriele) insisted on turning toward the windows while we prayed, where he knew Alfie was and where Tom and Kate were. He really loves Alfie, and I have never seen a priest so loving, sensitive and solicitous for a little one and the family.”
According to the source, who wishes to remain anonymous, Brusco ministered to many others at the hospital.
“He also witnessed to the staff, police and other families,” she wrote. “Many parents stopped him in the corridors and showed him photos of their sick children and asked him to pray for them. There was a huge thirst there for the ministry of priests, which is clearly not being met by the local church.”
Attempts to reach Father Brusco for an interview were not successful. A request for confirmation from Alfie’s family that his funeral will be held this Friday also went unanswered. A spokesman for the Westminster diocese told LifeSiteNews that the “diocese does not discuss the circumstances of individual priests.”