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AUTHOR'S NOTE: In the hours since I completed this article, the world has learned the heartbreaking news that little Alfie Evans has died. May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. May God also console his parents and, by bringing them into union with Him through the Catholic Church in this life, reunite them with their beloved Alfie in the next.
Like the whimpering "rabbit" of Eglfing-Haar, Alfie took a few extra days before complying with the wishes of his "caretakers." For those of us who are concerned not only about Alfie himself but also about what his case means, news of his passing does not permit us to comply with those wishes ourselves, by "going back to our everyday lives" as the Death Panel of Alder Hey Hospital (by means of the prepared statement read under duress by Tom Evans) commands. Rather, we must commit ourselves all the more profoundly to the cause of life, which means--as Father Maximilian demonstrated at Auschwitz--to give ourselves ever more entirely to the Mother of the Alpha and Omega of All Life. Only She has been given by God the promise of victory over Satan. Only She can crush all heresy in the whole world. And make no mistake about it; Alfie died of heresy in the end. He died specifically of the heresy which holds that mercy may be untethered from justice; love from truth; and pastoral practice from doctrine. That heresy is what we who are alive to see him die must commit ourselves to fighting, through the Immaculata, at all costs. HW
Because of our history in Germany, we have learned that there are some things you just don’t do with severely handicapped children. A society must be prepared to look after (them).
--Professor Nikolaus Haas, testifying in the case of Alfie Evans
According to the Approved Judgment handed down by Justice Anthony Hayden on February 20, 2018, it is in the “best interest” of impaired British toddler Alfie Evans to have his ventilator removed. Contrary to certain expectations, however, following this removal--which took place with the world watching on Monday, April 23--little Alfie did not die on demand. The fact that the child has since been deprived of sufficient oxygen and nutrition, not to mention being refused transport out of the country or release from Alder Hey Hospital at all, handily demonstrates that the verbiage best interest denotes imposed death--nothing else, and nothing less.
As of this writing, little Alfie is still alive, probably because of his heroic father’s decision to do a complete about-face based upon brutal arm-twisting. Asking assembled protesters to “return to (their) everyday lives,” Tom Evans also issued a plea for privacy which should be respected by each and all. Still, there are a number of compelling reasons why we cannot entirely oblige him, where “standing down” on this situation is concerned.
After all, as Mr. Evans himself has pointed out, there is more at stake here than only the life of his innocent and vulnerable son--as non-negotiable as Alfie is. There is the precedent that Alfie’s case will set (or arguably, solidify), should he be forced to die. There is the undermining of objective morality inherent in Amoris Laetitia Chapter 8, which will continue marching like Sherman to the sea unless it is confronted and overturned. And there is our civilizational commitment to preventing the atrocities of Nazi Germany from ever being tolerated again.
Professor Nikolaus Haas is identified in the Approved Judgment as the “Medical Director of the Department of Pediatric Cardiology and Intensive Care at the University Hospital of Ludwig-Maximilians (U)niversity (LMU), Munich” (p. 7). Considerable prestige, in other words, attaches to his opinion that Alfie’s prognosis is very poor. With clinical bluntness, Professor Haas has stated that (pp. 8-9):
I do agree with the medical teams involved that there are no useful tests that may be performed to improve Alfie’s condition. The genetic testing (i.e., whole genome sequencing) is performed by blood sampling and without any risks for Alfie. These tests may in certain cases be beneficial to delineate a rare new disease as pointed out by the doctors of Bambino Gesù Hospital. To the best of my knowledge these tests have--even if a new disease is found--never been able to cure a patient with a disease pattern like Alfie’s.
The doctors from Bambino Gesù, like Pope Francis himself, have rested their case not on Alfie’s inviolable right to life, but on the temporal hope that transporting the child to Italy might open up the possibility of a new therapeutic approach and ultimately bring about significant improvement, or even recovery.
Professor Haas refuses to don these particular rose-colored glasses. While he concurs with Alder Hey about Alfie’s condition, he refuses to countenance the removal of life support or the denial of life-sustaining care due to that condition alone. Alluding to the horrors of the Holocaust, Professor Haas instead demands that Alfie be cared for not because there is a chance he may get better, but precisely because “a society must be prepared to look after these severely handicapped children and not decide that life support has to be withdrawn against the will of the parents” (pp. 16-7), as heinous eugenic experience has already proven.
Justice Hayden did not, for his part, take kindly to the reminder. “Notwithstanding that Professor Haas has assessed Alfie’s medical circumstances in terms which are identical to those at Alder Hey,” Hayden writes, rarely in higher dudgeon (p. 16):
(Professor Haas) has different views as to what he terms ‘withdrawal of therapy,’ and which I shall call end of life plans. It is no part of his function, however, to utilize the case as a platform for his own personal beliefs. I found the . . . paragraph (about child euthanasia in Nazi Germany) to be inflammatory and inappropriate, not least because the views expressed bear no relationship to and do not engage with the facts of this case.
According to the individual who has attempted to seal Alfie’s fate at the judicial level, in other words, it is a matter of mere private opinion whether Aktion T4 is even to be deplored or not. At the same time, we are expected to swallow the implication that Justice Hayden himself, bastion of impregnable objectivity that he is, bring no agenda to the table at all--even though he is just as committed to extinguishing the life of little Alfie Evans as Professor Haas is to sustaining it. “But surely, with all this,” noted the Irish Bishops regarding the euthanasia movement as long ago as 1975, “we are in the world of Nazi Germany, not that of Western liberal democracy. Liberal reformers are outraged at the comparison. But it is difficult to see how it can be avoided.”
Picture, if you would, a visit to a state hospital in Germany in the autumn of 1939. As reported by an actual observer, in the children’s ward:
were some twenty-five half-starved children ranging in age from one to five years. The director of the institution, Dr. Pfannmueller, explained the routine. We don’t do it, he said, with poisons or injections. “Our method is much simpler and more natural.” With these words, the fat and smiling doctor lifted an emaciated, whimpering child from his little bed, holding him up like a dead rabbit. He went on to explain that food is not withdrawn at once, but the rations are gradually decreased. “With this child,” he added, “it will take another two or three days.”
This revolting vignette, so eerily comparable to what Alfie Evans is going through right now, was far from a singular occurrence. “Thousands of children were disposed of,” Fredric Wertham, author of A Sign for Cain, goes on to explain (pp. 159-60):
A special agency existed for them, consisting of a commission of three experts: one a psychiatrist and director of a state hospital, the other two prominent pediatricians. The children came from psychiatric hospitals, institutions for mental defectives, children’s homes, university pediatric clinics, children’s hospitals, pediatricians, et al.
And in actual practice, “the indications (for killing) became wider and wider” (Wertham, p. 159), not more carefully scrutinized and circumscribed. The process itself was simplistic as well: questionnaires were submitted to “experts” who would mark people with a plus sign (+) if--in their considered, professional, and unemotional judgment--that patient should still live; or with a minus sign (-) if not. To save time, the “experts” typically submitted these determinations concerning patients they had never even examined (Wertham, pp. 169-70).
These facts are superabundantly documented to the point of being uncontested, for the Nazis were scrupulous record keepers. There is no excuse, in other words, for Pope Francis--who refers to situations like Alfie’s as “delicate,” “painful,” and “complex,” along with the members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales which affirms its collective “conviction that all those who are and have been taking the agonising (sic) decisions regarding the care of Alfie Evans” are acting “with integrity and for Alfie’s good as they see it,”--to remain so culpably obtuse regarding the practical dynamics of the Culture of Death. As Wertham specifies, we can learn from the commission of child euthanasia in mid-twentieth-century Germany that (p. 155):
there (is) nothing individual about it; it was a systematic, planned, massive killing operation. . . . What a physician does or should do with a special individual patient under special circumstances had absolutely nothing to do with those mass exterminations. The greatest mistake we can make is to assume or believe that there was a morally, medically, or socially legitimate program and that all that was wrong was merely the excesses. There were no excesses.
But where did it all begin? Surely, this was all Hitler’s fault--and, since Hitler is dead and gone, we no longer have to consider ourselves as being in that kind of danger any more. Right?
Wrong. Wertham debunks this myth as well, arguing that (pp. 164-5):
(i)t has been stated that the psychiatrists were merely following a law or were being forced to obey an order. . . . According to that view, everything was fine until that order was given and became fine again when the order was revoked. The reality was very different. There was no law and no such order. The tragedy is that the psychiatrists did not have to have an order. They acted on their own.
Is this not what the medical personnel at Alder Hey Hospital, not to mention their collaborators in the judiciary, are doing this during this exact historical moment? The questions currently circulating at the popular level, regarding Alfie’s case--“But why are they doing this? Why don’t they let him go to Italy, or at least let him go home? It wouldn’t cost the British anything, so their stubbornness doesn’t even make financial sense!”--have no other answer than the recognition that this is the way practical eugenics always works.
From “one note, not on official stationery but on Hitler’s own private paper,” it was a quick descent into killing helpless people with “both curable and incurable conditions, psychopathic personalities, epileptics, encephalitics, neurological cases, mental defectives of both severe and mild degree, arteriosclerotics, deaf-mutes, patients with all kinds of nervous diseases, handicapped patients who had lost a limb in the First World War . . . et al.” (Wertham, p. 159). Furthermore, the note signed by Hitler only says that doctors are to be named (Wertham, pp. 165-6):
so that a mercy death may be granted to patients who according to human judgment are incurably ill according to the most critical evaluation of the state of their disease.
So the watershed turns out to be affording legal and moral approbation for the elimination of the patients who aren’t likely to get any better.
This is why it is so disconcerting that Pope Francis is being showered with fawning kudos for a recent of Tweet of his which--far from contradicting the Culture of Death--implicitly affirms it. The news outlets congratulating His Holiness on his “support” of Alfie are too numerous to mention, with pro-life and conservative commentators appearing especially anxious to take advantage of a rare opportunity to sound supportive of the left-leaning religious leader themselves, for a change. Even EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo, during his World Over Live broadcast of Thursday, April 26, put the misunderstood message from @Pontifex on screen, accompanied by lively praise. None of this, however, may be even remotely derived from what the Tweet-Even-Justice-Hayden-Could-Love actually says.
On Monday, April 23, 2018--the day Alfie was finally extubated--the world was looking to the Vatican for guidance and hope. Many people erroneously believed they had found these things in these words of Pope Francis, who gushed via Twitter:
Moved by the prayers and the broad solidarity in favor of little Alfie Evans, I renew my appeal so that the suffering of his parents may be heard and their desire to try new possibilities of treatment is fulfilled.
Then the pontiff went back to his regularly-scheduled activity for that day, which is how he ended up serving gelato to the homeless while Alfie’s food and air were being “rationed” away.
As slick as the “social media” Pope can sometimes sound, however, there is an ineluctable flipside to the papal point of view regarding Alfie which turns out to be more than blood-chilling. Pope Francis, whose most solemn duty it is to proclaim the truth of Christ, clearly failed in the most critical of moments to identify the child as the possessor of the inviolable right to life bestowed upon him by his Creator; a right which no doctor nor government may infringe upon at all. In this Tweet, the Fifth Commandment is nowhere alluded to, and neither is the CDF’s Declaration on Euthanasia with its detailed exposition of how the Catholic Church understands situations like the one currently unfolding in Liverpool. Instead, declaring himself moved by “prayers” (as if those particular exercises are meant to address . . . Jorge Bergoglio himself), and by “solidarity” (as if such temporal considerations couldn’t just as easily break the other way--an unnerving possibility which Professor Haas staunchly pointed out), Pope Francis begs only for Alfie to be given a chance to try additional treatments. And even that watered-down plea is based not on concern for the handicapped youngster himself, but for the “suffering” of Alfie’s parents, whose “desire” is alleged to merit singular indulgence.
Pope Francis therefore demonstrates fundamental agreement with the note at the root of the T4 Euthanasia Program, because of his logical implication that “treatability” alone makes Alfie worth keeping alive. By framing the issue in this way, the Holy Father casts the vulnerable little boy as the untermensch of the scenario, valuable to the extent that he happens to matter to the “real people” involved. This is not Catholicism. It is not even the celebrated merely-human “closeness” which the Holy Father is so fond of extending. It is nothing but Nietzschean predation, at just about its most naked.
There will be those who wish to cite (in refutation of this conclusion) other pronouncements of the Holy Father as well--pronouncements which, in isolation and rank self-contradiction, do make him sound like he embraces the sanctity-of-life position of which the Catholic Church is the irrevocable champion. But the fact that he has said those things doesn’t mean that he didn’t Tweet this. It is wildly unacceptable for the Vicar of Christ on earth to mouth the verbiage of the Culture of Death even once, not to mention his countless slights to the cause of life, and the uncontradicted outrages which have been stated by his surrogates about Alfie to boot.
Is one Tweet, however, really worth all this hoopla? If its contents represent even a subtle crossing of the Fifth Commandment watershed, it surely is. Concepts count. Read over, for example, the note from Hitler one more time, looking for the term which the Führer diabolically twisted beyond recognition, and which then became the basis for innumerable atrocities to follow. If this one National Socialist instance of semantic abuse had been detected and opposed effectively, who knows what reprehensible sights this Vale of Tears might ultimately have been spared?
Curiously enough, the word in question--in case it hasn’t jumped off the page at you already--is mercy.
 Alder Hey NHS Children’s Foundation Trust v. Mr. Thomas Evans et al. (Neutral Citation Number:  EWHC 308 (Fam); Royal Courts of Justice Strand, London, WC2A 2LL; 20 February, 2018), p. 16. This document is linked to by Michael Hichborn in “Judge Cites Pope Francis to Justify Ending Baby’s Life Against Parents’ Wishes” (https://www.lifesitenews.com/blogs/judge-cites-pope-francis-to-justify-ending-babys-life-against-parents-wishe); February 23, 2018; accessed April 24, 2018.
 “The continued provision of ventilation, in circumstances which I am persuaded is futile, now compromises Alfie’s future dignity and fails to respect his autonomy. I am satisfied that continued ventilatory support is no longer in Alfie’s best interest” (Alder Hey v. Evans, p. 22).
 “Did Alder Hey Force Alfie Evans’ Dad to Read a ‘Hostage’ Letter to Save His Son?” (https://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/did-alder-hey-force-alfie-evans-dad-to-read-a-hostage-letter-to-save-his-so); April 26, 2018; accessed April 26, 2018.
 Quoted in Freiburger, Calvin, “Alfie Evans’ Parents to ‘Form a Relationship’ with the Hospital,’ Asking Supporters to Return Home” (https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/alfie-evans-parents-to-form-a-relationship-with-hospital-ask-supporters-to); April 26, 2018; accessed April 26, 2018.
 “Alfie's father also asked the Pope to consider granting his son asylum and told him: 'Please help us save our innocent child and give us the grace of asylum to keep our family safe and to stop all of this. If (Y)our (H)oliness helps our child you will be potentially saving the future for our children in the UK, especially the disabled.” Quoted in Apen-Sadler, Diane and Martin Robinson, “Pope Francis ‘Looked Me in the Eye and Told Me I was Doing the Right Thing,’ Says Alfie Evans’ Father after He Returns from Rome and Continues Fight for His Brain-Damaged Son” (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5635629/Alfie-Evans-father-said-Pope-Francis-told-doing-right-thing.html#ixzz5DqAX0JYp); April 19, 2018; accessed April 26, 2018. Mr. Evans also expressed the expectation that involving Pope Francis would cause diplomatic troubles for Great Britain, if Alfie wasn’t allowed to depart for Italy. It is unfortunate, if not unexpected, that the same Holy Father who prides himself on “making a mess” in other contexts did not see fit to do anything of the kind when Alfie’s ventilator was removed.
 “Human Life is Sacred,” Pastoral Letter of the Archbishops and Bishops of Ireland to the Clergy, Religious, and Faithful (Dublin: Veritas, 1975; reprinted by the Daughters of St. Paul, 1977), no. 53; p. 32.
 Wertham, Fredric, M.D. A Sign for Cain: An Exploration of Human Violence (New York: Macmillan, 1966), p. 180.
 “Pope Francis Prays for Alfie Evans in Sunday Regina Coeli Address,” by Staff Reporters (http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2018/04/16/pope-francis-prays-for-alfie-evans-in-sunday-regina-coeli-address/); April 16, 2018; accessed April 26, 2018.
 Quoted by Dorothy Cummings McLean in “UK Bishops Say Hospital Acting with ‘Integrity’ in Alfie Evans Case” (https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/uk-bishops-abandon-alfie-evans-say-courts-and-hospital-act-with-integrity-a); April 18, 2018; accessed April 26, 2018.
Helen M. Weir is a freelance writer who holds a Master's Degree in Theology from the Franciscan University of Steubenville. She belongs to the Militia Immaculatae movement of Total Marian Consecration founded by St. Maximilian Kolbe, the Hero of Auschwitz.