LEICESTER, United Kingdom – Pope Francis on Wednesday met privately with the father of Alfie Evans, a 23-month-old English child threatened with the removal of his life support.
Alfie has an undiagnosed brain condition, which his doctors at the Alder Hey children’s hospital in Liverpool say has no medical cure.
The hospital wants to remove his life support – against his parents’ wishes – arguing nothing more can be done to help the child.
The British courts have sided with the hospital, and a date was set for the removal of Alfie’s ventilator last week. However, the parents appealed the decision. The Appellate Court on Monday refused to allow Alfie to leave the country, and the case is now with the UK Supreme Court.
The Vatican-owned Bambino Gesù children’s hospital in Rome has offered to admit the child, but the British courts have refused to allow him to be removed from the Liverpool hospital.
Francis met with Thomas Evans April 18 before the general audience in his residence at the Casa Santa Marta, the Vatican guesthouse.
After thanking the pope for agreeing to meet with him, Evans, a Catholic, pleaded with Francis for “asylum,” stating British hospitals “do not want to give disabled children the chance of life and instead assisting in the death of children.”
“Our child is sick but not dying and does not deserve to die. He is not terminally ill nor diagnosed,” Evans said. “We have been trying our best to find out his condition, to treat or manage it.”
Evans told Francis he and Alfie’s mother, Kate James, want to bring their child to the Bambino Gesù, “where we know he is safe and he will not be euthanized.”
“When Alfie shows me and his mum any sign of suffering or dying, we will enjoy every last moment with him, but Alfie has not yet shown us he is ready to go, so we continue to fight just as he shows us to,” Evans said.
Alfie’s father told the pope he believes Britain is trying to legalize euthanasia, and many children are now facing what his son is going through.
“If Your Holiness helps our child, you will be potentially saving the future for our children in the U.K., especially the disabled. We pray the problem we are facing is solved peacefully and respectfully,” Evans told Francis. “No child deserves this. Especially not a child of God.”
During the general audience, the pope asked for prayers for Alfie, and said it is “our duty to do everything to preserve life.”
“I would like to reiterate and forcefully confirm that the only master of life, from the beginning to its natural conclusion, is God!” Francis said.
Correction: A previous version of this article stated Alfie was diagnosed with encephalomyopathic mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome. His condition has not been diagnosed. We apologize for the error.