Alfie Evans brought Italians together in a way few others could

Members of the Italian association Comitato Articolo 26 take part in the Novena vigil prayer for Alfie Evans, at the St Peter's square (Getty Images)

It took a sick baby to bring unity to the Italian Church and put pride in Italians’ hearts. For once, Italian Catholics (besides that small minority that wants to erase Humanae Vitae and John Paul II’s legacy) felt really united as a people in the struggle for Alfie. And in this, Italian Catholics were proud of the leadership of the Roman Pontiff, who embraced the cause, to the surprise of some.

It is true that Italian Catholics are relatively united on bioethical issues, but the widespread agreement over Alfie Evans was pretty unexpected. Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Mgr Angelo Becciu, Mariella Enoch, Mgr Francesco Cavina, among others, are names that should be remembered in this affair. And, most importantly, they are all Italians.

Perhaps it is their Roman heritage that fills Italians’ hearts with “humanitas”, making them feel that letting Aflie die was simply an unacceptable injustice.

Italians do not idolise nor worship the “rule of law”. An Italian could never accept that in name of the rule of law a baby can be allowed to die against the will of the family. Family always comes first.

It is very rare for Italians to be proud of their government, and even rarer for pro-life Catholics to be on the side of a government that imposed, among other things, same-sex marriage. But Alfie managed this. Other than a small number of voices poisoned by contemporary ideologies, the decision of the government to give Italian citizenship to the “little warrior” was widely welcomed not only by Catholics but by most Italians. It simply appeared as an action of good sense against the inhumanity of contemporary ideologies: the love of parents must be more effective than any court judgment.

For the first time in decades, the Italian Church forgot its divisions and the inhabitants of “the Boot” felt proud of being Italian. Thanks to a little English warrior.