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Catholic cathedral in England site of baby Indi Gregory’s funeral

baby Indi with her parents Claire Staniforth and Dean Gregory in the Queen's Medical Centre (QMC) in Nottingham

FAMILY HANDOUT / AFP

John Burger - published on 11/29/23

Bishop Patrick McKinney, who had supported parents in their quest for care for severely ill child, will preside at Mass on Friday.

The Catholic Diocese of Nottingham in England has announced that the funeral of baby Indi Gregory will be held in its cathedral this Friday. Indi Gregory was the girl at the center of an end-of-life controversy that resulted in her life support being removed at the order of a British court.

Bishop Patrick McKinney of Nottingham will be the main celebrant and homilist.

“We will celebrate the life of baby Indi Gregory at Nottingham Cathedral and entrust her precious soul to God’s love,” said a statement by the cathedral, announcing plans for the December 1 funeral. “We wish to express the Church’s care and closeness to her grieving family at this difficult time.”

Indi’s case raised issues of end-of-life decisions and parental rights in Great Britain. She was born in February with a rare mitochondrial disease, requiring frequent hospitalizations and medical and surgical interventions. The hospital treating her went to court because it believed that Indi had little chance of survival and that treatment was futile and causing the girl much suffering. Indi’s parents, Dean Gregory and Claire Staniforth, fought the hospital’s recommendation to withdraw life support and wanted to bring her to a different hospital to attempt to prolong or save her life. 

The Vatican’s Bambino Gesù Pediatric Hospital offered to take Indi, and the Italian government granted the child citizenship and offered to pay for her transportation. In the end, however, the British hospital prevailed, and Indi died in hospice on November 13, two days after life support was withdrawn.

Days earlier, Bishop McKinney and Bishop John Sherrington, Lead Bishop for Life Issues and Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster, issued a statement in support of Indi’s parents.

“Those responsible for her medical care at the Queen’s Medical Centre, Nottingham, believe they have done all they can to help her,” the two bishops said. “However, as people of hope, we recognize that her parents want to pursue every possible chance of extending her life, even when they know this carries no guarantee of success and would require transfer to the Bambino Gesù Hospital in Rome, Italy. In this regard, both parties are seeking to act in Indi’s best interests. Parental love will lead to a desire to take every possible step and we support this.”

Wider discussions

Indi’s parents had had the girl baptized. Gregory said he is not religious but chose to have Indi baptized after feeling the “pull of Hell” in their court battle to extend her life.

Eugenia Roccella, Minister of State for Family, Birth, and Equal Opportunities, and Alessandra Locatelli, Minister of State for Disabled People, will attend the funeral on behalf of the Italian government.

The Nottingham cathedral website said in a statement this week, “As a Church we will continue to contribute to wider discussions on questions of when treatment becomes disproportionate to any possible benefit, the duty of the continuation of basic care and the rights of parents.”

It added that over the coming week, and especially on the day of the funeral, “our sole concern will be supporting Indi’s family as they prepare to lay her to rest.”

Said the cathedral, “May baby Indi rest in peace, and may all who loved her find consolation in the days ahead.”

Tags:
BioethicsDeathPro-life
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