In which I start with a caveat from Fr. Dwight Longenecker.
I’ve held back from commenting on the Alfie Evans case so far because everybody else and his brother seem to be weighing in, and to be truthful, these cases are extraordinarily complex and I’m not a medical professional.
This whole story reminds me so much of the Terri Schiavo story. Again we have doctors on both sides saying different things. One side of the divide will quote some doctors and the other side different doctors.
Still like the Terri Schiavo story this is not fundamentally what the story is about. The doctors at the hospital where he is being treated might have the correct prognosis. Still whether this is true or not does not effect how Alfie is currently not being treated. Withdrawing nutrition and hydration is purposeful execution in this seeming circumstance. There is no indication that Alfie can’t process either or that they do him harm.
Still it is not surprising that many doctors don’t have the same understanding as Catholics in regard to withholding nutrition and hydration. Still neither are extraordinary means to maintain life. As Pope Saint John Paul II wrote this “always represents a natural means of preserving life, not a medical act.”
Unfortunately there is another aspect of this case that mirrors the Terri Schiavo story.
Archbishop of Liverpool backs Alder Hey hospital in Alfie Evans case. Reminds me of the awful Bishop Robert Lynch in regards to Terri Schiavo.
So when I read this linked story I wondered what the heck Archbishop Mahon was thinking.
The fact that the Archbishop of Liverpool has taken the side of the hospital in this case is shocking. Does he not know the Catholic principles for end of life matters? Does he not stand up for them? Why on earth hasn’t Archbishop McMahon spoken clearly about the Catholic principles on end of life issues? This is not only for the sake of Alfie and his family, but it is a powerful teaching opportunity while the world’s media is watching.
Instead we get a bland, sentimental statement that the hospital has done all it possibly can. No. The medical staff are clearly contravening Catholic end of life issues. They are withholding nutrition and hydration from the child and they are therefore taking steps to intentionally end life.
The Archbishop could have backed the hospital in some aspects of the case and denounced them in others.
One of the most maddening parts of the story is that the parents are not allowed to take their child elsewhere. From the hospital to judges it makes no real sense. Maybe seeking treatment is futile, but what is to be lost by letting them try? I won’t speak about their motives – since I don’t know them and what I might conject is beyond my charitable imagination at the moment.
Still praying for Alfie and his parents, along with others has occupied some of my prayer time. Unfortunately I feel that this will just become another train of similar stories as in the Charlie Gard case.