Cardinal Vincent Nichols has defended Alder Hey hospital’s role in the Alfie Evans case.
During a visit to Poland on Sunday, the cardinal reportedly criticised people who “sought political capital” from the case, and said some who took a stand on the case “didn’t serve the good of the child”.
“It’s important to remember Alder Hey Hospital cared for Alfie not for two weeks or two months, but for 18 months, consulting with the world’s top specialists – so its doctors’ position that no further medical help could be given was very important,” he said, according to The Tablet.
“The Church says very clearly we do not have a moral obligation to continue a severe therapy when it’s having no effect, while the Church’s Catechism also teaches that palliative care, which isn’t a denial of help, can be an act of mercy. Rational action, spared of emotion, can be an expression of love; and I’m sure Alfie received this kind of care.
“It’s very hard to act in a child’s best interest when this isn’t always as the parents would wish – and this is why a court must decide what’s best not for the parents, but for the child,” he added.
His comments come amid growing criticism of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. Pope Francis, along with world leaders such as President Andrzej Duda of Poland and President Antonio Tajani of the European Parliament, called for authorities to respect the wishes of Alfie’s parents, who wanted to transfer him to Italy. The Italian government also granted the infant citizenship to help enable this.
However, the English and Welsh bishops defended the hospital and courts, saying in a statement earlier this month that “all those who are and have been taking the agonising decisions regarding the care of Alfie Evans act with integrity and for Alfie’s good as they see it.”
That position has been strongly criticised online, particularly since Alfie’s death on Saturday. Among the critics was Conservative MP Nadine Dorries, who said the bishops should “hang their heads in shame”.
However, Cardinal Nichols told the Polish Church’s information agency, KAI: “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.”