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Alfie Evans graced this world less than twenty-four months. I say grace because during the months of his short, precious life, he silently spoke volumes from his fragile hospital bed, as though he had a megaphone.
Alfie Evans was born a healthy, happy baby to Tom Evans, 21 and Kate James, 20 of Liverpool, England. As an infant, Alfie received several vaccines all at once along with “other medications”, as was reported. He started showing symptoms of illness at about six months with seizures and then his brain began to deteriorate. Some have speculated that he had a reaction to the vaccines, but that has never been proven. The hospital in England could not make a diagnosis, and Alfie was eventually put on life support. When the hospital decided nothing more could be done, even though no diagnosis was ever found, they informed the parents he would be removed from life support. His young parents pleaded that life support continue, but they said no.
It was at that point that Bambino Gesu Catholic children’s hospital in Rome, Italy, just a few hundred yards from Vatican City, offered to take Alfie and continue to care for him. “Rome’s Vatican-owned pediatric hospital Bambino Gesù has offered to treat the 23-month-old boy, who has a serious undiagnosed brain condition. The government in Rome has granted Alfie Italian citizenship in a bid to bring him to Italy and beat rulings to let him die.”
I was struck by several profound events that occurred in the final days. First, why would the Italian hospital and doctors give hope to this young couple if there was no hope? They would not offer their services or hospital, with the Pope granting Italian citizenship to Alfie within days to cut through the red tape, unless there was something they had to offer, beyond the British hospital where Alfie lay. At the very least, they seemed to say they would continue to care for him until the parents decided that there was nothing more that could be done.
Second, there was an outcry from thousands in support of the rights of the parents over the hospital, who not only ignored the parents’ request to continue life support, but who wanted to go to Italy to try to save their little boy. I followed the almost daily emails from Dr. Robert Moynihan, who writes The Moynihan Letters and is Editor of ‘Inside the Vatican’ Magazine. I almost hesitated each morning, yet anticipated – hoped – for just a thimble of good news upon opening my email.
Alfie was expected to die within minutes of the removal of his life support. He lived for five days, and they pressed on during those days. They had to beg for water, then nourishment. Candlelight vigils began in St. Peter’s Square in Rome, rosaries prayed for Alfie. Dr. Moynihan said the following in one email:
“As the world’s eyes turn toward England, and the choice the English authorities will make in this case… …many are also turning inward, in prayer, to construct the ramparts of an impregnable interior castle… …an impregnable interior castle, against any world order or legal system which will diminish or deny the primary right of parents to care for their children……and, with the help of expert doctors, provide them the best possible, loving care, until they are called from this life by God, not man…
To this end, a rosary will be prayed tonight in St. Peter’s Square, as last night, and the night before, and will be prayed for another six days, making a nine-day novena.
The prayer, though obviously for young Alfie, is also for Asia Bibi, a 51-year-old Pakistani Christian who was wrongly sentenced to death by hanging for blasphemy in 2010, and has been in prison ever since while her sentence is appealed (link), and for all who suffer attacks against their human dignity and human rights. It is also for own interior conversion, that our actions may not fall short of the high ideal set for us in the Beatitudes, to support those who mourn, to be meek, to be peace-makers…” Dr. Robert Moynihan – The Moynihan Letters April 23, 2018
Moynihan continued via email April 26th:
“The prayer ended. The crowd began to disperse. I said to the Italian woman next to me: “Well, even from his hospital bed, Alfie is changing the world. Even if we can no longer talk about him, and he cannot speak, he’s doing it…” She looked at me quizzically. “We must stop what is happening all over the world, what they are doing to the children,” she replied, quite firmly, with a quite serious look, in a decisive voice…”
Third, I was struck by the movement to pray for our own condition and that of our neighbor, for those imprisoned for their beliefs, and for simply, freedom of the human spirit. This was bigger than Alfie. There was an acknowledgement that an S.O.S was needed from above, that our human condition was also on life support.
What are they doing to the children? What is secular society doing to the rights of families, religion, the fragile and frail among us? Who decides life and death?
Alfie brought people out to pray in the public square for their own interior conversion, for each other, for the world. A little angel barely 24 months of age, unable to speak, made life, holiness and hope a priority again. God bless you Alfie.