SPOTLIGHT: ILLINOIS ORGY—ROME CONNECTION premieres Monday, Sept. 20 after Catholic Info Hour at 7 PM ET
LIVERPOOL, England (ChurchMilitant.com) - After pressure from the English bishops, a priest who ministered closely to the Alfie Evans' family is being forced to return to Italy. He will not be permitted to attend Alfie's funeral, scheduled for Friday.
Father Gabriele Brusco, who offered continual spiritual assistance to the sick toddler in his final days, also withdrew his request for incardination in the diocese of Westminster, after a meeting called by Auxiliary Bishop John Sherrington on May 2.
"The duration and contents of the interview are top secret, by express wish of Abp. Sherrington," reported Riccardo Cascioli of La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana, "but it must not have been a particularly pleasant occasion if at the end of the conversation Father Gabriele decided to withdraw the request for incardination in the diocese of Westminster."
Brusco had been in England for two and a half years, discerning whether he might join the Westminster diocese. When he read in the news that the Evans family was having difficulty finding a priest to offer on-the-spot spiritual assistance, Brusco immediately offered his services. In Alfie's last days, Brusco returned and remained continually by Alfie's bedside for three days and three nights.
According to reports, hospital staff complained of his presence because of his advocacy on Alfie's behalf.
"[In] a brief homily pronounced just before Alfie's ventilation was removed," Cascioli reports, "Father Gabriele had appealed to the conscience of the health workers, to their personal responsibility, to avoid a move as serious as that of putting a child to death."
The archbishop of Liverpool, Malcolm Patrick McMahon — who had defended Alder Hey Hospital previously — investigated the matter, and successfully secured his removal from hospital grounds.
Brusco is now being forced out of England, expected to be back in Italy Monday and awaiting his next assignment.
As Church Militant reported May 1, Cdl. Vincent Nichols, head of the bishops of England and Wales, doubled down against critics, accusing some of seeking "political capital" and not truly interested in serving "the good of this child." He went on to insist that the hospital and courts were correct in allowing Alfie to die.
"It's very hard to act in a child's best interest when this isn't always as the parents would wish," Nichols said, "and this is why a court must decide what's best not for the parents but for the child."
Alfie's parents repeatedly complained of the poor care their son received at Alder Hey, posting photos of his moldy breathing tubes that carried oxygen into his lungs, as well as unexplained injuries found on his body.
Disturbing details have emerged of Alfie's final moments: Benedetta Frigerio reveals that Alfie was showing promising vital signs only two hours before death, but took a downturn after a cocktail of unknown drugs was administered by a hospital nurse.
Two hours before dying, the oxygen saturation was about 98 and Alfie's [heart]beats were about 160, so much so that Thomas was convinced that they would let him go home soon (as the hospital administration told him on Friday afternoon). Before dying, while Thomas had gone out for a moment, leaving Kate half-awake and another family member in the room, a nurse entered and explained that he would give the baby four drugs (no one knows what) to treat him. After about 30 minutes the saturation dropped to 15. Two hours later Alfie was dead.
According to one Italian priest, he quoted Fr. Brusco as saying, "I heard their cries while trying to stop the doctors who wanted to give their little boy lethal doses of sedatives ... . I invoked the Madonna while Tom and Kate practiced mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on their son."
The severity of the scandal surrounding Alfie's death has prompted Cascioli to urge the Vatican to make an apostolic visitation to England to investigate.
*This article has been updated to include Fr. Lazarra's tweet.