A private meeting took place early Wednesday morning between Pope Francis and Tom Evans, the father of two-year-old Alfie Evans, who is currently at the center of a legal battle to keep him alive.
Tom Evans said that in the April 18 meeting, which took place at the Santa Marta residence in the Vatican, he asked the pope for asylum in Italy for his family so that Alfie can be moved to the Bambino Gesu hospital in Rome to receive treatment.
Two-year-old Alfie Evans suffers from an unidentified degenerative neurological condition and has been under continuous hospitalization since December 2016.
In February, the court ruled that Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, where Evans is receiving care, could legally stop treatment for Alfie against his parent’s wishes, arguing that continuing treatment is not in his best interest, and that his life support should be switched off.
Despite the desire of Alfie’s parents, Kate James and Tom Evans, to take their son to Bambino Gesu hospital in Rome, several judges have ruled in the hospital’s favor.
“Alfie is doing really well, he’s fighting very hard and we believe that he can still wake up and that he’s got a lot of potential,” Evans told journalists April 18. He said that in their meeting, Pope Francis gave him a lot of sympathy and encouragement, telling him he has “strength like God.”
The pope’s positivity gave him hope, Evans continued, noting that the meeting was “very confident, very calm. I was really nervous, but I just spoke the truth, spoke from my heart.”
Evans stated that he will return to Liverpool tonight to be with his son and Kate, but they are hopeful that when and if Alfie is permitted to come to Italy, the doctors will be able to diagnose and treat him.
At the end of the general audience Wednesday, Pope Francis asked for a moment of silent prayer for Alfie, saying that he would like to “reiterate and strongly confirm that the only master of life, from the beginning to the natural end, is God!”
Despite their parent’s wishes, High Court judge, Justice Anthony Hayden, ruled in February that the hospital can remove Alfie’s life support.
A later appeal to the European Court of Human Rights failed, and the parent’s appeal earlier this week to have Alfie taken to Italy for treatment was also dismissed by the UK’s Court of Appeal.
Full story at Catholic News Agency.