Vatican City, Apr 18, 2018 / 05:20 am (CNA/EWTN News).- 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.
“Just because he has a brain disability that no one knows of doesn’t mean that we have to take that life away from him. As I’ve always said, Alfie is a child of God and he’ll remain a child of God and he’ll go when [God] says he’ll go.”
In his statement to Pope Francis, Evans said that Alfie “is sick but not dying and does not deserve to die. He is not terminally ill nor diagnosed. We have been trying our best to find out his condition, to treat or manage it.”
“We see life and potential in our son and we want to bring him here to Italy, to the Bambino Gesù, where we know he is safe and he will not be euthanized,” the statement continues.
“When Alfie shows me and his mum any sign of suffering or dying, we will enjoy every last moment with him, but Alfie has not yet shown us he is ready to go, so we continue to fight just as he shows us to.”
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!”
“And our duty, our duty is to do everything to preserve life,” he stated.
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.
Alfie’s case has drawn international attention, and protesters gathered outside his hospital last week to peacefully oppose judges’ decision to end life support.
Evans and James recently launched a new legal challenge, asking the Court of Appeal judges to continue life support and treatment for Alfie. The court officials posted their hearing for Monday, saying that a court judge has decided that Alfie could continue treatment, pending the hearing.
On Sunday Pope Francis made an appeal for prayer for Alfie Evans, and others, “who live, at times for a long period, in a serious state of illness, medically assisted for their basic needs.”
Francis also recently tweeted about Alfie, saying it was his “sincere hope that everything necessary may be done in order to continue compassionately accompanying little Alfie Evans, and that the deep suffering of his parents may be heard.”