Alfie Evans, the seriously ill toddler whose plight moved thousands across the world, died on Saturday. Tom Evans, Alfie’s father, said: “My gladiator lay down his shield and gained his wings.” Liverpool’s Alder Hey hospital switched off his life support after doctors said it was in his best interests – a decision opposed by Alfie’s parents.
Bambino Gesù hospital in Rome offered care, but the courts barred Alfie’s parents from taking him abroad.
What the American media are saying
“The doctors and judges had plausible medical arguments” for discontinuing treatment, wrote Ross Douthat in the New York Times.
But “that judgment was deployed for wicked ends, stripping parents who were not unfit of their ability to act as parents.”
The elderly, too, are often separated from their families and brought under the care of state-appointed guardians. It’s vital that we reassert the rights of the family, Douthat wrote. Yes, there are risks – but they are “risks a humane society has to take, so that in our weakest moments we can hope to be surrounded not just by knowledge or power, but by love”.
The bioethicist Charlie Camosy tweeted: “There’s nothing more beautiful and pure than a bureaucrat’s love for a child not their own, whose grave they will never visit.”
What the British media said
In the Economist, “Erasmus” regretted Pope Francis’s “ill-advised” intervention: the Pope tweeted his hope “that the suffering of his parents may be heard and their desire to seek new forms of treatment may be granted.” No other treatment was available. “Agonisingly hard moral dilemmas can arise over terminal illness, and it is not surprising that doctors and families sometimes pull in different directions,” the columnist added. But Alfie’s parents “appear to have been given misleading advice”.
At spectator.co.uk, Fraser Nelson said that an agonising situation “was made worse by bad law”, and that it might now be necessary to give parents more legal rights. Parliament should discuss “whether the law needs to be updated for these rare, tragic cases”.
✣The most overlooked story of the week
✣Nigerian herdsmen kill 19 in church attack
An attack on a Catholic church in Nigeria during early morning Mass last week left at least 19 dead, including two priests and 17 worshippers. Armed men, thought to be Muslim cattle herders, stormed St Ignatius Church in Ayar, a remote town in Benue state in the culturally diverse “middle belt” region.
Why was it under-reported
Fulani herdsmen have carried out dozens of attacks on Christians in recent years. Yet it is not a clear-cut story of Islamists persecuting Christians – the violence may be driven by anti-Christian hostility, but it is also about a scarcity of fertile land. This may be a less compelling story – but the risk of genocide is there all the same. Nigerian bishops have condemned the attack as “horrendous, barbaric and satanic”, saying the world needs to pay attention to what is happening to Christians in Nigeria’s middle belt. “The world is not hearing us,” said one bishop.
What will happen next?
Pressure is growing on the president, Muhammadu Buhari, to take more drastic action. The country’s bishops have said he should resign if he cannot keep the country safe. “It is clear to the nation that he has failed in his primary duty of protecting the lives of the Nigerian citizens,” they said. Former government minister Femi Fani-Kayode, meanwhile, said that Nigeria was heading towards another civil war if the “terrorists are not stopped or if they do not desist from their barbaric agenda of ethnic cleansing”.
✣The week ahead
The March for Life will take place in London for the first time tomorrow. Pre-rally workshops will be held at the De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms, near Holborn, in the morning. The march will begin there at 1.30pm and from 2.30pm there will be speeches in Parliament Square. The event began with just 100 people in 2012. Last year the march drew 3,000 pro-lifers.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols will be interviewed by the composer James MacMillan at the Boswell Book Festival at Dumfries House, Ayrshire, on Saturday. The cardinal will talk about his life and his passion for sacred music.
Pope Francis will visit the little town of Loppiano, near Florence, on Thursday. Known as “Mariapolis” (“City of Mary”), the town was established by the Focolare movement in 1964. It has 1,000 residents from 65 countries, all of whom seek to live out the movement’s “charism of unity”. It was the first Focolare town; now there are about 20 around the world.
Having been unable to sell in churches for well over a year due to the pandemic, we are now inviting readers to support the Herald by investing in our future. We have been a bold and influential voice in the church since 1888, standing up for traditional Catholic culture and values.
Please join us on our 130 year mission by supporting us. We are raising £250,000 to safeguard the Herald as a world-leading voice in Catholic journalism and teaching. For more information from our chairman on contributing to the Herald Patron's Fund, click here
Make a Donation
Donors giving £500 or more will automatically become sponsor patrons of the Herald. This includes two complimentary print/digital gift subscriptions, invitations to Patron events, pilgrimages and dinners, and 6 gift subscriptions sent to priests, seminaries, Catholic schools, religious care homes and prison and university chaplaincies. Click here for more information on becoming a Patron Sponsor. Click here for more information about contributing to the Herald Patron's Fund