Alfie Evans

That haunting question: Would Alfie Evans receive more elite press ink if he was a royal?

That haunting question: Would Alfie Evans receive more elite press ink if he was a royal?

So what would it take for the Alfie Evans case to draw major coverage in elite American publications?

That was the main question discussed in this week's "Crossroads" podcast. Click here to tune that in.

At the time I wrote my first post on this topic, earlier this week, the NPR site was blank (it still is, by the way), in terms of "Alfie" content and justifiably famous international desk of The New York Times was running short stories from the Associated Press. However, The Washington Post had published a major story -- from the religion-news desk. (CNN did a story of its own, as well.)

Maybe the key was to view this as a religion-beat story?

The Times has now published a lengthy story about the case, under the headline: "Fight Over Alfie Evans, a Brain-Damaged Baby, Divides U.K." Here is the calm overture:

LONDON -- Alfie Evans does not know it, but he is the subject of a national debate in Britain, international diplomacy and a bitter legal dispute. He is held up as a tragedy, a beacon of hope and an object lesson. And he might not live to turn 2 years old.

The hospital and doctors treating him in Liverpool say that Alfie suffers from a degenerative neurological condition that is certainly fatal, that he is in a semi-vegetative state and that the only humane course of action is to let him die. His parents, supported by the Italian and Polish governments and the pope, are not convinced that he is beyond hope, or even that the doctors understand his condition, and they want to continue his care.

On Wednesday, the British Court of Appeal upheld a ruling that not only approved the withdrawal of care and sustenance, but also prohibited his parents from seeking treatment elsewhere, despite an invitation to take him to a hospital in Rome. The decision is wrenching to the parents, the courts have said, but prolonging Alfie’s life would prolong his suffering, and so it would be contrary to his interests.

The staff of Alder Hey Children’s Hospital took Alfie off a ventilator on Monday, but defying expectations, he kept breathing on his own.

The religion angles of the story are covered -- kind of.

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Extraordinary actions by pope and Italy draw little USA ink, with the Alfie Evans story (updated)

Extraordinary actions by pope and Italy draw little USA ink, with the Alfie Evans story (updated)

Once again, people who care about religion news have proof -- as if they needed more -- that not everything Pope Francis does and says is worthy of intense coverage by elite news media.

What's the overarching trend?

When Pope Francis sounds small-o "orthodox," it isn't news. When this pope sounds small-p "progressive," it's big news.

Yes, say hello to Dr. James Davison Hunter of "Culture Wars" fame.

The latest case is, of course, the struggle over the body and dignity of British toddler Alfie Evans who, as I type, is still alive and breathing on his own. His hospital room is surrounded by guards just in case his parents or anyone else attempts to carry him to the medical care that is waiting for him in Italy.

Italy? If you read European newspapers you would know all about that. News consumers here in America? Not so much. Here is the top of a short Associated Press update about this religious-liberty crisis:

LONDON -- The parents of a terminally ill British toddler whose case has drawn support from Pope Francis plan to return to the Court of Appeal Wednesday in hope of winning the right to take him to Italy for treatment.

High Court Justice Anthony Hayden on Tuesday rejected what he said was the final appeal by the parents of 23-month-old Alfie Evans, who suffers from a degenerative neurological condition that has left him in a "semi-vegetative state." ...

But Alfie's parents, who are backed by a Christian pressure group, have been granted a chance to challenge that ruling at the appeals court Wednesday afternoon.

A "Christian pressure group"?

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