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Baby Indi Gregory: Why Italy was so interested in the tragic story of a British 8-month-old

by | Nov 15, 2023

Italian journalists offer what they believe were the reasons their country protested the forced death of the baby at the hands of the British government.

By Dorothy Cummings McLean

ROME (LifeSiteNews) — In the chorus of voices raised in defense of the life of English baby Indi Gregory, the loudest came from Italy.

If, like me, you followed the last days of Indi’s life via X (formerly Twitter), you would have noticed that most of the impassioned remarks were in Italian. Moreover, whereas the U.K. government had nothing to say about Indi’s life and death, the Italian government took a keen interest.

To save the girl, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni granted the English baby Italian citizenship. She also declared her support, tweeting, “They say there is not much hope for little Indi, but until the end I will do what I can to defend her life. And to defend the right of her mom and dad to do all they can for her.”

Manchester-based Italian Consul Dr. Matteo Corradini applied to the U.K. High Court to cede jurisdiction of the case to him under Article 9 of the 1996 Hague Convention. The UK’s Christian Concern advocacy organization reported Meloni herself had written to the Britain’s Lord Chancellor asking for his help in getting Indi to Italy. Indi, who had a rare mitochondrial disorder, would have been treated at the Bambino Gesù children’s hospital in Rome. Its general manager had been named her Italian guardian.

People living in Britain may be astonished to know how much Italians cared for a disabled English baby and taken aback by the notion that they live in, as critics seethed, “Death Island.” To understand why the case of Indi Gregory – like that of Alfie Evans – became a cause celebre in Italy, I wrote to several distinguished Italian journalists. (The translations from Italian to English are my own.)

Journalist Mateo Matzuzzi of Il Foglio daily newspaper explained to me that Italy is “still a Catholic country (and thus the subject of life from conception until natural death is very sensitive)” and “culturally Catholic.”

“In the Italian culture – the secular culture, too, in part – it is inconceivable that the state and not the parents should decide on the life of their child. We Italians just cannot understand this,” he remarked.

Marco Politi of Il Fatto Quotidiano daily newspaper told me that Italians are “very basic when it comes to matters of life and death.”

“Popular feeling is very attentive not only to the event of death but to how one dies,” he continued.

“In Indi’s case, many people understood that one can’t keep alive someone naturally dying. But many didn’t like how the English judiciary – irrationally – did not allow the baby, who had become Italian – to be welcomed by an Italian hospital.”

“Less still was it accepted that Indi couldn’t die at home with her parents,” a “veto” Politi characterized as “heartless.”

“It is undoubtedly a somewhat curious fact,” replied Riccardo Cascioli, the director of La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana (The Daily Compass), regarding the intense Italian media coverage.

“I believe that the great interest of the secular newspapers was sparked by the government giving [Indi] Italian citizenship, something that had already happened with Alfie Evans. Then … the newspapers all copied each other.”

After further questioning, Cascioli explained that, as with the Alfie Evans case, the interest in saving Indi came from “Fratelli di Italia,” Giorgia Meloni’s party.

“Above all, it comes from some pro-life people who are close to the center-right,” he added.

“On this occasion it came about because the English lawyers for the family asked the Italian lawyer Simone Pillon, a former senator, to look into the possibility of a hospital in Italy willing to admit Indi.”

“Pillon, precisely because of his political connections… favored a repetition of the granting of Italian citizenship and thus the whole circus started.”

Cascioli believes that the actions of the Italian government have been meritorious, but he says he has reservations about this political activism, about which he published today.

“At the same time, it is scandalous that in England they talk so little about it, seeing that the question at stake is human dignity, and the judges and doctors reason with the same arguments as the Nazis, and even the Church is afraid of making a fuss,” he concluded.

Journalist Marco Tosatti, the expert in Vatican affairs who writes the Stilum Curiae blog, told me that there were many reasons for Italian interest in Indi.

“The first is politics. Mass media in Italy are mostly left wing. The government is center-right,” he explained.

“The government took a position on Indi’s case, gave her citizenship lightning-quick, and tried every legal way possible to get her to Italy. This was enough for the mass media to get interested in Indi against the government,” he continued.

“The second reason I can think of is that even in Italy the party of death is very strong, and the debate over euthanasia is always alive. Thus, the Indi case was an opportunity for the supporters of the culture of death to revive their arguments.”

He credited organizations like Pro Vita & Famiglia (For Life and Family) for putting pressure on the Italian government to help Indi in the first place.

Giuseppe Rusconi, author of the Catholic Rossoporpora blog, told me that Italy “is a country particularly sensitive about this subject.”

He cited the case of Eluana Englaro, an Italian woman left in a minimally conscious state after a 1992 accident. She died in February 2009 after her feeding tube was removed. The Berlusconi government had attempted to issue a decree that would forbid this, then-President Giorgio Napolitano had refused to sign it, and when the girl’s death was announced, a “riot broke out in the Senate.”

“In recent years, the issue has always been topical, not least because of the continual provocations of the [left-wing Transnational Radical Party] on end-of-life issues,” Rusconi explained.

“In [Indi Gregory’s] case also there were bitter polemics between the two fundamental visions of life: that which defends it from conception until natural death and opposes the State’s totalitarian impositions that ignore the will of parents and that which holds that a person should be able to self-determine if he lives or dies (and the State should guarantee that choice),” he wrote.

“They are two irreconcilable concepts that shake the Italian people, too.”

Rusconi added that Italians frequently accuse the English judiciary and government of inhumanity and associate them with a “totalitarian idea of power.”

Luigi Casalini of the invaluable Catholic Messainlatino (Mass in Latin) blog told me that he thinks there are four reasons for the Italian interest in the “murder of poor Indi”:

1.   A government, Meloni’s, that is interested in the problems of life […] .

2.   Some good reports from pro-life associations, first of all, Pro Vita & Famiglia which has done a good job in newspapers and in government circles as well.

3.   The influence of the Alfie Evans affair, which involved the Vatican, some Italian hospitals, and public opinion too.

4.   Finally certain sectors of the Church, if not all, and the Catholic hospitals have had their importance, too.

For Franca Giansoldati of Rome’s Il Messaggero, the English controversy was a big story – but it’s over now.

She told me that the Italian newspapers – from the big dailies to the websites – covered Indi Gregory’s case intensely, “reporting on every stage and every step for their readers.”

“Now the case is closed,” she added. “Unfortunately, the baby is dead, and journalistically we turn the page.”

But I don’t imagine it will be long before yet another set of anguished British parents and yet another disabled child in need of life-supporting care appear in the Italian media. And not only children are of interest: the cases of “RS,” the Polish man in England whose mother and sister fought his wife to keep him alive, and “ST” – the 19-year-old who wanted to live – also appeared in Italian newspapers.

CharlieAlfieArchiePippaAltaRS and 19-year-old Sudiksha: their struggles made waves that flooded many foreign shores. I’m not sure the average left-leaning Briton understands why. However, it is unfashionable in the U.K. to think Johnny Foreigner has nothing to add to the national conversation.

The British reader who thinks it must be in a child’s “best interests” to be dead, if the High Court says so, is also capable of pondering that, just as he is shocked by Canada’s growing euthanasia regime, millions are shocked by England’s treatment of the disabled – and their parents.

Editor’s note. This appeared at Life Site News and reposted with permission.

Categories: Infants