The Pope has expressed his “closeness” with the parents of the terminally ill child Charlie Gard, whose parents have lost a legal battle to keep him on life-support.
The 10-month-old was born in England with mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, which causes progressive muscle weakness, brain damage and respiratory or liver failure. It is typically fatal.
The Vatican released a statement saying: “The Holy Father follows with affection and emotion the case of little Charlie Gard and expresses his own closeness to his parents. For them he prays, hoping that their desire to accompany and care for their own child to the end is not ignored.”
The Pontifical Academy for Life and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales also extended prayers for the baby, the medical staff caring for him and the parents.
British hospital specialists believed the baby had no chance of survival, but the parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, crowdfunded nearly $1.7m (€1.5m) in four months to finance having the baby treated in the United States. Only 16 children in the world are believed to have been diagnosed with the rare syndrome.
When hospital officials wanted to stop providing life support for the baby, Gard and Yates went to a London court with their case, but the court ruled the baby should be allowed to “die with dignity”.
The ruling was upheld by an appeals court and the nation’s Supreme Court dismissed the parents’ case. They turned to the European Court of Human Rights who decided not to intervene.