Friday, April 27, 2018

Alfie Evans and Legitimate Parental Authority

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.
Me too. Of course, the complex issues involved go beyond medical care to parental versus governmental rights, money, and how we treat the most vulnerable human life.

I already knew about little Alfie Evans and his parents' legal battle with the British hospital which will not release him into his parents' care. I'm not ok with how the authorities have been handling this, both as a Catholic and as a parent. Ok, also as an American.

So many people have articulated my feelings and thoughts on this case much better than I could. Also many of them have additional insights which deepened my understanding. So, here you go!
  • Jennifer Fitz has a good, short summary of the issues surrounding Alfie Evans from a Catholic point of view. She brilliantly connects it to subsidiarity, the idea that things should be handled by the lowest level of authority competent to do so. I love her examples. As she points out: Where the UK has gone terribly wrong is in usurping legitimate parental authority.

  • The Curt Jester mentions how much this reminds him of the Terri Schiavo case. Up to and including a Catholic archbishop approval of the hospital's methods. Yep, I haven't been able to shake that comparison either.

  • Father Dwight Longenecker has more to say about the archbishop.
    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.
  • GetReligion points out that there has been very little press coverage here of Alfie's story while the press has fixated on the newest royal baby. As one of the pieces they quote says:
    What if Prince George or Princess Charlotte find themselves in the hospital with their own mysterious brain condition? It would be a very sad thing, indeed. No sadder than it would be for any other child, but still sad.

    Do we have any doubts about how the situation would unfold with a royal baby in Alfie's shoes? Need we even debate the subject?
  • National Catholic Register launches a new series, Difficult Moral Questions, with a look at Alfie Evans' case. It digs deeper into Catholic teachings under such circumstances. If you have further questions after reading Jennifer Fitz's piece, then this is a good follow-up.
In thinking about subsidiarity, I'd also like to point you to this National Catholic Register piece about Paul Ryan's plan to alleviate poverty by following the model used by Catholic Charities of Fort Worth. It makes so much sense.

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