The Pope has expressed his support for baby Charlie Gard's parents, saying that the couple should be allowed to "accompany and treat their child until the end". In a statement released by the Vatican on Sunday, Pope Francis said he had been following the terminally ill boy's case with "affection and sadness". He wished to "express his closeness" to Charlie's parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, and said he is praying that "their wish to accompany and treat their child until the end is not neglected".
On Friday, the Catholic leader also posted on Twitter: "To defend human life, above all when it is wounded by illness, is a duty of love that God entrusts to all." The tweet was not necessarily linked to Charlie's case. The Pope's statement comes after Charlie's parents lost their final legal appeal to take their son to the US for experimental treatment. On Tuesday, judges at the European Court of Human Rights concluded that further treatment on the ten-month-old baby would "continue to cause Charlie significant harm".
Pope said he is praying that "their wish to accompany and treat their child until the end is not neglected"
Charlie suffers from brain damage and mitochondrial depletion syndrome, a rare genetic disease thought to affect only 16 children in the world. The court decision was taken in line with advice from doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital, where Charlie has been receiving treatment. In a statement to HELLO! Online, a spokesperson for Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust said: "As with all of our patients, we are not able to and nor will we discuss these specific details of care. This is a very distressing situation for Charlie's parents and all the staff involved and our focus remains with them."