Alfie Evans was used by campaigners

Alfie Evans, who died last week after a legal battle over his treatment, was used by campaigners for their own political aims, Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster says.

Alfie was 23 months old when he died. He had a neurodegenerative disorder and had been cared for in Alder Hey hospital for 18 months. The disorder left him in a semi-vegetative state for much of his short life.

Alfie’s parents and the hospital disagreed with what should happen to him.

His parents said they wanted to fly him to the Vatican-owned Bambino Gesù pediatric hospital in Rome for alternative treatment. Alder Hey said continuing treatment would not be “in Alfie’s best interests.”

Alder Hey then went to court to seek a declaration that “continued ventilator support [would not be] in Alfie’s best interests and in the circumstances it [would not be] lawful that such treatment continues”.

The Christian Legal Centre represented the family in court, and pro-life activists demonstrated outside Alder Hey hospital.

Pope Francis also became involved in the case.

He said he hoped the “suffering of his parents may be heard and that their desire to seek new forms of treatment [at the Vatican children’s hospital] may be granted.”

However, Nichols saw Alfie’s situation differently. He said it was right for a court to “decide what’s best, not for the parents, but for the child.”

His perspective was supported by the British Catholic bishops.

Conservative MP Nadine Dorries said the bishops should “hang their heads in shame” after they said “all those who are and have been taking the agonising decisions regarding the care of Alfie Evans act with integrity and for Alfie’s good as they see it.”

“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.

“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 is 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.”

Alfie was taken off life support on 23 April. He survived for a further four days.


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