As couple ends legal battle, Francis and his brother bishops assure their closeness and prayer
“Pope Francis is praying for Charlie [Gard] and his parents and feels especially close to them at this time of immense suffering. The Holy Father asks that we join in prayer that they may find God’s consolation and love,” a statement from the Vatican press office said today.
The statement comes as a lawyer representing the parents of the critically ill baby said that the family has ended their legal battle to take him to the United States for treatment.
Grant Armstrong told Britain’s High Court that “time had run out” for the baby after American neurologist Dr. Michio Hirano informed the parents that MRI exams revealed that it would be too late to give him experimental therapy, according to a BBC report.
The Oxford-based Anscombe Bioethics Centre, the national Catholic bioethics centre for the UK and Ireland, which has carefully pointed out the complexities of Charlie’s case, also released a statement.
The parents of Charlie Gard have ended their legal challenge to take their son to America for experimental “nucleoside” treatment. They now face what no parent ever wishes to face – the reality that there is no realistic medical hope that their little boy will recover.
A time will come to look at what went wrong in this case, why it was not possible to find agreement between parents and doctors about what was in Charlie’s best interests, and whether the legal case was decided rightly and on the right grounds. It might also become clearer in future whether this kind of experimental treatment could offer any hope to children with Charlie’s condition. However, these questions are for another day.
Now is the time to remember the preciousness of the child at the heart of this case, and to allow his parents to be with him until he passes from this life. If further treatment may no longer be worthwhile, Charlie’s life is inherently worthwhile, having the dignity and irreplaceability of every human life, and this will remain so even in the coming days. Charlie and all those around him remain in our thoughts and prayers at this time.
A spokesperson for the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales also assured their prayers for the family. In a statement, they said, “Indeed it is for Charlie, his parents and family that we all pray, hoping that they are able, as a family, to be given the support and the space to find peace in the days ahead.
“Their farewell to their tiny and precious baby touches the hearts of all who, like Pope Francis, have followed this sad and complex story. Charlie’s life will be lovingly cherished until its natural end.”
The bishops’ statement also said: “At this moment it is important to remember that all involved in these agonising decisions have sought to act with integrity and for Charlie’s good as they see it,” and added that the “professionalism, love and care for severely ill children consistently shown at the Great Ormond Street Hospital is also to be recognised and applauded.”