LEICESTER, United Kingdom – Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, the President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, says only an alliance between the parents, other members of the family, and health care workers can determine the best way to help Alfie Evans.
Alfie – only 23-months-old – has an undiagnosed brain disease, and Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool has argued that any further treatment would be futile, and not in Alfie’s interest.
His parents – Thomas Evans, 21, and Kate James, 20 – have fought an ongoing legal battle to allow them to take Alfie abroad for treatment.
The Vatican-owned Bambino Gesù children’s hospital in Rome has offered to admit the child and treat him, but the British courts have not let Alfie’s parents remove him from Alder Hey.
On Friday, the UK Supreme Court sided with the Alder Hey Hospital and gave them the go-ahead to remove Alfie’s ventilator.
In a statement issued on Sunday, Paglia said “we cannot escape a strong discomfort, mainly due to the feeling of being at a dead-end where we risk being defeated.”
He called for a “shared” process to try and find a solution to the problems that have arisen in Alfie’s case.
On Saturday, Alfie’s father released a statement saying he has filed an appeal – the family’s second – with the European Court of Human Rights. A previous appeal to the Strasbourg-based institution was rejected on March 28.
Evans had a private meeting with Pope Francis on Wednesday, and the pontiff instructed the Vatican’s Secretary of State to make sure the Bambino Gesù was ready to receive Alfie if he was able to be moved from England.
Mariella Enoc, president of the Bambino Gesù, on Saturday confirmed the Secretary of State had been in contact with her and relayed the pope’s desire that she do “everything possible and impossible” to allow Alfie to come to Rome.
In an interview with Vatican Insider, Enoc said she has written to the Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool and reiterated the Bambino Gesù’s willingness to receive Alfie. She also said the medical staff at her hospital had given the English hospital a detailed plan of how the child could be transported to Rome, and what treatment would be given when he arrived.
“We do not propose any cure. The child is not healable at the moment, the child is not curable… and according to our concept this means we can take care of him,” she said.
Enoc also forwarded a letter from the mothers of patients at the hospital’s satellite campus in Palidoro, about 25 miles from Rome.
The pope visited the facility in January, and the mothers wrote a letter to Enoc thanking her for allowing the visit.
The Apil 20 letter noted that some of the children visited by Francis have “conditions similar to that of little Alfie Evans.”
The mothers said they wanted to express their closeness to his parents, “to whom we feel deeply connected due to the common suffering from the illnesses of our children.”
“Our children are not suffering, they are only living. And even today they can feel the beauty and warmth of the sun and of our soft touches on their faces. Please do not deprive little Alfie and his parents of the joy of these caresses,” the letter read.
Enoc told Vatican Insider she has sent the text of the letter – signed “from the mothers of Palidoro” – to the president of Alder Hey Hospital.
“I know that this letter will probably not change anything, but I felt – for purely humanitarian reasons – to accept and send this testimony,” she said.
Meanwhile, a group of bishops in Brazil made a video in support of Alife, saying, “We affirm what has been part of the deposit of faith of the Catholic Church, life is sacred and inviolable and under no circumstances can it, under any argument, be vilified or suppressed.”
The Brazilians then reiterated their desire that “all medical care be provided to little Alfie Evans and that his rights be granted and needs be provided.”
The person who helped facilitate the meeting between Francis and Evans, Italian Bishop Francesco Cavina of Carpi, has started a worldwide prayer campaign for Alfie Evans – using social media and in cooperation with the Vatican’s Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life.