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ROME, April 15, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Pope Francis and the president of the Vatican’s Academy for Life spoke out on Sunday about Alfie Evans, as the two-year-old’s parents battle to save their son’s life in the face of hospital and state rulings to turn off his life support.
Speaking to pilgrims gathered today in St. Peter’s Square after the Regina Caeli (a traditional Marian prayer prayed during the Easter Season), Pope Francis said:
I entrust to your prayers persons like Vincent Lambert in France, and little Alfie Evans in England, and [persons] in various countries who live, sometimes for a long time, in a state of serious infirmity, and are medically assisted for their basic needs. They are delicate, very painful and complex situations. Let us pray that every sick person is always respected in his dignity and cared for in a way that is suitable to his condition, with the unanimous support of family members, doctors and other medical professionals, with great respect for life.
Vincent Lambert is a 42-year-old Frenchman who also faces a hospital and state imposed death sentence (by starvation), against his parents’will. In 2008 Vincent suffered severe head injuries in an automobile accident that left him a quadriplegic. But doctors who have reviewed his case say he is not sick, nor in a coma, breathes unassisted, and his internal organs function normally.
Lambert has been called the French “Terri Schiavo.”
“Alfie must be loved”
Earlier on Sunday, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, also issued a statement in support of little Alfie. He said:
The story of little Alfie Evans of Liverpool, of his young parents Tom and Kate, and of all the people who over these long and painful months of illness have worked in different ways for the good of this child, in recent days has unfolded in all its terrible tragic effects.
I pray for him and for the people involved, and I invite everyone to join in this intention before the Lord of life.
I strongly hope that dialogue and cooperation can be reopened between the parents, who understandably are devastated by suffering, and the hospital authorities where Alfie has been treated until now, so that together they might seek Alfie’s complete good, and so that care for his life might not be reduced to a legal dispute.
Alfie cannot be abandoned. Alfie must be loved, and so must his parents, through to the end.
Vatican City, April 15, 2018
Archbishop Paglia has come under fire for publicly siding with Judge Anthony Hayden’s decision to deny Alfie Evans life support against his parents’ will.
In his decision, the British judge said that “continued ventilatory support is no longer in Alfie’s best interest,” even though doctors from the Vatican’s Bambino Gesú Hospital, having reviewed the case, offered to take little Alfie and provide him with full palliative care, including ventilation.
A number of Paglia’s critics in Rome welcomed today’s statement, saying it is “very good.” But some say it doesn’t go quite far enough and is still too open to interpretation.
A father’s fight
Last Thursday afternoon, Tom and Kate Evans attempted to remove their 23-month-old son from Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool after obtaining a legal document confirming they could legally do so.
The parents had a medical team and air ambulance on standby ready to transport Alfie to the Vatican’s Bambino Gesù hospital in Rome. However, the hospital called police, who threatened to arrest Alfie’s father for assault if he took his son.
A court order was handed down later on Thursday, mandating that Alfie be kept on life support until Monday, April 16 when is parents and legal team will again return to court in yet another attempt to keep their son alive. They will ask a Court of Appeals to allow Alfie to remain on life support and receive further treatment for his undiagnosed condition.
“The family wishes to immediately move Alfie by air ambulance to the Bambino Gesú Hospital in Rome, which has offered free care for the rest of Alfie’s life, including the comfort and health-enhancing standard tracheostomy and PEG feeding tube which Alder Hey refuses to give,” a press release said.
“We are children of God, and that’s simple. No doctor is God, no doctor can play God,” Tom Evans said on Friday, as he vowed to “fight until Alfie dies on his own.”
Candlelight vigils continue to be held by “Alfie’s Army” outside Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool.