GNIEZNO, Poland, April 30, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Contrary to the assessment of Pope Francis, several Vatican officials, and many Catholic priests and commentators, Cardinal Vincent Nichols says Alder Hey Children’s Hospital acted in Alfie Evans’ best interests by ending his life.
The 23-month-old boy died Saturday at Alder Hey, which had removed his ventilator five days earlier despite the wishes of his parents, Tom Evans and Kate James. Alfie’s doctors said he had an undiagnosed and untreatable neurological condition resulting in serious and irreparable brain damage.
Alfie’s parents spent months unsuccessfully fighting the hospital in court to keep him alive, capturing the attention of leaders all over the world as well as scores of Christian and conservative observers. But Nichols, the archbishop of Westminster, maintains that the hospital’s critics spoke out “without knowing the facts” because they “sought political capital” from the ordeal, according to The Tablet.
“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,” Nichols told the Polish Catholic news agency KAI on Sunday. He had just arrived in Gniezno to represent Pope Francis at the sixth centenary of Poland's primatial see.
“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,” Nichols continued.
Pro-lifers dispute the characterization of Alfie’s treatment during his final days as palliative. “During his final ordeal, Alfie was deprived of food for approximately 28 consecutive hours,” Live Action’s Lila Rose noted. “Nutrition is not extraordinary medical treatment, it’s a basic necessity for all life. Withholding food is not medicine, and in Alfie’s case, it was an act designed to kill.”
Nichols went on to claim that most of the doctors and nurses caring for Alfie were Catholics themselves, who were “deeply hurt” by the various accusations of mistreatment leveled at the hospital. Tom Evans had accused Alder Hey of abusing and neglecting his son in numerous ways, including a doctor adjusting Alfie’s drugs without consent, a nurse falling asleep next to him, allowing one of his lungs to collapse, and leaving him in “squalid conditions” with “moldy tubes.”
“Rational action, spared of emotion, can be an expression of love; and I'm sure Alfie received this kind of care,” Nichols claimed.
He also defended the British courts who denied the parents’ requests to seek treatment elsewhere, claiming judges had to step in because it’s “very hard to act in a child's best interest when this isn't always as the parents would wish.” Nichols dismissed Alder Hey’s many critics as people who “didn’t have (full) information,” as well as “some who used the situation for political aims.”
Nichols is a controversial figure within the church who has been accused of undermining traditional Catholic teaching on marriage and homosexuality. Most recently, he had Alfie’s chaplain, Don Gabriele Brusco, recalled from the hospital.