Pope Speaks on Dying Baby, Changes Vatican Position

Francis says parents should be allowed to do everything possible
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 3, 2017 3:24 AM CDT
Pope: Parents Should Be Allowed to Treat Dying Baby
Chris Gard and Connie Yates with their son Charlie Gard at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.   (Family of Charlie Gard via AP)

Pope Francis has been following the heartbreaking case of Charlie Gard "with affection and sadness," and he believes the parents of the terminally ill British baby should be allowed to do everything possible to treat him, the Vatican said in a statement Sunday. "He prays that their wish to accompany and treat their child until the end is not neglected," the statement said. The AP reports that this is a change of position for the Vatican: After a court ruled last week that the 10-month-old could be taken off life support, Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia, chief of the Vatican's bioethics panel, said the parents should understand the "unique difficulty of their situation" and accept the limitations of medicine.

Charlie has a rare form of mitochondrial disease, and authorities in Britain have refused to allow him to be taken to the US for treatment, saying the proposed treatment is experimental and would cause the boy more suffering instead of helping him. His parents, who crowdfunded $1.7 million for his treatment, say they've also been denied their wish to take their son home to die, though London's Great Ormond Street Hospital confirmed Friday that he will remain on life support for now so that his parents can have more time with him, the Telegraph reports. Hundreds of supporters gathered outside Buckingham Palace Sunday to protest the ruling allowing the hospital to withdraw treatment, the Guardian reports. (More Pope Francis stories.)

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