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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Pope calls for respecting parents’ wishes to care for dying child

Pope Francis called for respecting the wishes of a terminally ill child’s parents to accompany and care for their child ‘until the end’.

Greg Burke, Vatican spokesman, said the pope was following ‘with affection and emotion’ the events concerning Charlie Gard, a 10-month-old infant born in England with mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, which causes progressive muscle weakness, brain damage and respiratory or liver failure; it is typically fatal.

Expressing his closeness to the parents, Pope Francis said he was ‘praying for them, hoping that their desire to accompany and take care of their own baby until the end is not disregarded,’ Burke’s written statement said in Italian on 2nd July.

In London, Charlie’s parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, crowdfunded nearly $1.7 million (£1.3 million) in four months to finance having the baby treated in the United States. However, when hospital officials wanted to stop providing life support for the baby, the parents went to a London court with their case, but the court ruled the baby should be allowed to ‘die with dignity’ and doctors could stop providing life support. Further court actions, including a decision by the European Court of Human Rights on 27th June, upheld the ruling.

The parents’ continued request to the hospital was to allow them to take Charlie home to die. That request has been denied, and the hospital had said it would be suspending life support on 30th June – a date that has since been extended.

The official Twitter account of Pope Francis, @Pontifex, posted a tweet on 30th June, ‘To defend human life, above all when it is wounded by illness, is a duty of love that God entrusts to all’.

Picture: Charlie Gard, who was born with mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, is pictured in this undated family photo. The baby’s parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, have lost their legal battle to keep Charlie on life-support and seek treatment for his rare condition in the United States. (CNS photo/family handout, courtesy Featureworld).