Pope: 'Troubled' over Syria, praying for Alfie Evans

At the Regina Caeli, Pope Francis calls for greater commitment from the international community for a joint action for peace in Syria. He also asks that Alfie, who is suffering from a degenerative disease and whom doctors want to deny basic care, "be" cared for according to his condition, with the agreement of family members, doctors and other health workers". "" Every offense or wound or violence to the body of our neighbor is an outrage to God the creator! My thoughts go, in particular, to children, women, the elderly whose bodies are mistreated". A martyr beatified in Madagascar.


Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Pope Francis is "deeply troubled" by the lack of "joint action in favor of peace in Syria" and denounces the "difficulty in agreeing a joint action" on the part of "the international community", despite having "the available instruments" for peace.

Speaking to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square for the recital of the Regina Caeli, the Pontiff also asked for prayers "the little Alfie Evans, in England" to be "well-cared for according to his condition, with the consent of family members, doctors and other health workers ".

The Pope's words on Syria are his first comment after the missile attack launched by the United States, Britain and France against chemical weapons factories in areas near Damascus and Homs.

The bombing took place without any UN mandate, in violation of international law and - as many voices point out - without any evidence of the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian army in an attack on Douma. Yesterday, the Pontiff had a long phone call on this topic with the Moscow Orthodox Patriarch Kirill.

After describing how the situation troubled him and expressing his condemnation, the pontiff added: "While I pray incessantly for peace, and I invite all people of good will to continue doing so, I appeal again to all the political leaders, so justice and peace prevail". The words of Francis were greeted with a long applause from the square.

There was also a long anticipated public appeal by the Pope for little Alfie Evans. Alfie is a 23-month-old boy, suffering from a mysterious degenerative disease, who was admitted to Liverpool's Alder Hey hospital. After having spent periods in coma and overcoming various infections, the doctors decided that it is better for the child to stop the artificial respiration and the basic care which would lead to his death, given that there is no prospect of an improvement. The High Court of London also supported the doctors' decision decreeing that Alfie's life is "futile", "useless".

Alfie's parents, Tom Evans and Kate James, a young 20-year-old couple, appealed against the decision, and have managed to find hospitals in Italy that would take care of the baby, but Alfie is now surrounded by police and his parents are not allowed to take their baby to transfer him. Meanwhile, tomorrow, the Court of Appeals could meet to confirm or not the interruption of basic care for Alfie.

The Pope, who had already launched a tweet in favor of Alfie, today said: "I entrust to your prayers people, like Vincent Lambert, in France, and the little Alfie Evans, in England, and others in different countries, who live, sometimes for a long time, in a state of serious illness, medically assisted for primary needs. They are delicate, very painful and complex situations. We pray that every patient is always respected in their dignity and treated according to their condition, with the consent of family members, doctors and other health workers" and he added:"With great respect for life ".

In fact life and the value of the body, as fruit of the resurrection, was the theme addressed by Francis commenting on the Gospel of Sunday (third of Easter, Luke 24, 35-48), which tells of the appearance of the Risen Jesus to the disciples, showing his hands and feet and eating with them, as if to confirm that he "is not a ghost, he is a man with body and soul".

"The insistence of Jesus on the reality of his Resurrection - explained Francis - illuminates the Christian perspective on the body: it is not an obstacle or a prison of the soul ... The body is a wonderful gift from God, destined, in union with the 'soul, to fully express the image and likeness of Him. Therefore, we are called to have great respect and care for our body and that of others ".

"Every offense or wound or violence to the body of our neighbor is an outrage to God the creator! My thoughts go, in particular, to children, women, the elderly mistreated in their body. In the flesh of these people we find the body of Christ. Mocked, slandered, humiliated, scourged, crucified, Jesus taught us love. A love that, in its Resurrection, proved to be more powerful than sin and death, and wants to redeem all those who experience the slavery of our times in our bodies ".

After the Marian prayer of Easter time, the pontiff recalled that today in Vohipeno (Madagascar), martyr Luciano Botovasoa is being proclaimed blessed, "A family man and a consistent witness of Christ to the heroic gift of life. Arrested and killed for having manifested his will to remain faithful to the Lord and to the Church, he represents for all of us an example of charity and strength in faith".

The Pope also recalled "the killing of the three men kidnapped at the end of March on the border between Ecuador and Colombia". "I pray for them - he added - and for their families, and I am close to the dear Ecuadorian people, encouraging them to go forward united and peaceful, with the help of the Lord and his Blessed Mother".

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