England’s most senior Catholic clergyman has attacked some supporters of toddler Alfie Evans, who died last week, for “us[ing] the situation for political aims”.
Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Vincent Nichols backed the decision by Alder Hey Children’s Hospital to remove the ill toddler from life support during a trip to Poland.
Cardinal Nichols, who in 2017 helped introduce the pontiff to British Muslim imams for interfaith dialogue just two weeks after an Islamist London terror attack, criticised supporters who he said “sought political capital” from the case “without knowing the facts”.
“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,” the cardinal told the Polish Catholic church’s information agency, KAI, on Sunday.
“The Church says very clearly we do not have a moral obligation to continue a severe therapy when it’s having no effect,” Cardinal Nichols said, adding that sometimes parents’ wishes must be denied and “a court must decide what’s best” for a child.
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The cardinal, who as Archbishop of Westminster is de facto leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, appears to be at odds with the position of Pope Francis who came out in support of Alfie Evans receiving continued support – as he did in the summer of 2017 for ill baby Charlie Gard.
The Pope backed the toddler travelling to the Vatican-run Bambino Gesù children’s hospital for treatment that though would not have cured Alfie, who had an undiagnosed neurological condition, may have helped him live for an “undefined period”.
The director of the Rome hospital Mariella Enoc later criticised UK authorities for their “ideological battle” and their refusal to allow the child to be treated elsewhere which she said betrayed “hostility toward the Vatican hospital”.
Alfie Evans’ Dad Flies to Rome, Pleads with Pope Francis to Save his Son https://t.co/9kHYTZL9h7
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Parental rights and pro-life supporters, who the left-wing Guardian have referred to as “Catholic fundamentalists”, from the United States and Catholic-majority Italy and Poland came out en masse in support of baby Alfie last week.
Protests took place outside the British Embassy in Warsaw and Catholics held a candlelit prayer vigil for Alfie at St Peter’s Square, the Vatican, on Thursday night.
Cardinal Nichols, who said during the height of the 2015 migrant crisis that immigrants give Britain “new hope”, also told Poles that the “Church’s voice” must be less Christian in the UK’s “multifaith setting” and must construct dialogue on “arguments about society’s common good”.