The Catholic Association voices support for Alfie Evans' parents

Alfie Evans 1 Courtesy of Alfies Army official Facebook CNA Alfie Evans. Courtesy of Alfie's Army official Facebook.

A group dedicated to offering a Catholic voice in the public square has spoken out on behalf of Alfie Evans and his parents, as the court battle surrounding the toddler continues.

"The Catholic faithful along with citizens of good will around the world have rallied and stood with the Pope and with Alfie and his parents in defending their rights and defending the beauty of Catholic social teaching – which expressly condemns exactly what the U.K. government is doing: denying Alfie's parents their rights to what is best for their child and forcing the child to suffer in his last moments," said Ashley McGuire, senior fellow with The Catholic Association.

In an April 26 statement, McGuire thanked Pope Francis for his leadership and called on UK Catholics "to join him in standing for Church teaching."

The Catholic Association, a group that is "dedicated to being a faithful Catholic voice in the public square," voiced support for the parents of British toddler Alfie Evans, who has been at the center of a months-long court battle.

Just shy of two years old, the young boy is in what physicians have described as a "semi-vegetative state" due to a mysterious degenerative neurological condition that doctors at Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool, England have not been able to properly diagnose. He has been hospitalized since December of 2016.

Although Italian officials have granted Alfie citizenship and a Vatican-linked hospital has offered to take the toddler for further diagnosis and treatment, UK courts have repeatedly refused to allow the transfer, ruling that it is not in the child's best interest.

With permission of the court, but against the will of Alfie's parents, the hospital earlier this week removed Alfie's ventilator and withheld food and water from the child.

Although the toddler was only expected to live for a few minutes, he was able to breathe on his own for a number of hours, until doctors administered oxygen and hydration. They later administered nutrition as well, after the boy went almost 24 hours without food, according to Alfie's father.

Rallies in support of Alfie's parents have been held in London, Washington, D.C., New York, the Vatican.

Pope Francis has also been outspoken about supporting the child's parents.

The pope, who met with Alfie's father last week, has offered public prayers for Alfie and his family several times, including at a general audience and in several Twitter posts.

"Moved by the prayers and immense solidarity shown little Alfie Evans, I renew my appeal that the suffering of his parents may be heard and that their desire to seek new forms of treatment may be granted," he said on Twitter Monday.

The Catholic Association has spoken out several times in recent days in support of Alfie's parents.

"Agonizing medical decisions for a child should be made by the two people who love him the most, those who brought him into the world and are uniquely bonded to him and entrusted with his care -- his parents," said Maureen Malloy Ferguson, senior policy advisor for the organization. "For the government of the U.K. to usurp the paternal and maternal role in the Alfie Evans case, and to override their wishes to bring him elsewhere for treatment, is nothing short of chilling."  

"Throughout history, civil authorities recognize that parents, not the government, should make decisions for the well-being of their children," said Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, legal advisor for The Catholic Association Foundation. "Alfie's mom and dad, Tom Evans and Kate James, are not willing to accept their government's plan to remove life support (including withholding nutrition and oxygen) from their almost two-year-old son."

"Instead, they want to take advantage of the generous offer of the Italian government to fly their baby to the Vatican's Bambino Gesù hospital for additional care at the Italian government's expense," he continued. "Alfie's parents should be free to choose alternative, life giving care for their child."
Editor's note: A previous version of this story failed to meet CNA editorial standards and was retracted. CNA apologizes for that error.

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