Catholic World News

English bishops, Vatican issue cautious statements on English baby refused medical treatment

June 29, 2017

The Catholic bishops of England and Wales and the Pontifical Academy for Life have both issued non-commital statements on the controversy surrounding the condition of Charlie Gard, a 10-month-old child whose life-support system will be withdrawn on June 30, over the objections of his parents.

Charlie Gard suffers from a very rare genetic condition, and is now living in Great Ormond Street Hospital with the help of a ventilator. When doctors there determined that they could not save his life, the hospital made a decision to remove the ventilator. His parents objected, and raised enough funds to transport the child to the US for experimental treatment. But their right to find treatment for their child was rejected in a series of court decisions. This week the European Court of Human Rights, the parents’ last hope for relief, ruled that the experimental treatment offered “no prospects of success” and the baby was “being exposed to continued pain, suffering, and distress.” The court affirmed the hospital’s right to remove life support.

“Our parental rights have been stripped away,” protested Chris Gard, the child’s father. The parents reported that Great Ormond Street Hospital had refused their request to have Charlie brought home for his last night, or to allow him to die peacefully in a hospice.

A spokesman for the bishops’ conference of England and Wales acknowledged that the decision to end Charlie Gard’s life was “heartrending, most particularly for his parents and family,” but did not question the court’s decision. Similarly, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, speaking in his capacity as president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, avoided a judgment on the court’s decision, and warned against “the risk of ideological or political manipulation, which is always to be avoided, or of media sensationalism, which can be sadly superficial.” Both statements promised prayers for Charlie Gard and his parents.

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  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Jul. 01, 2017 10:11 AM ET USA

    The bishops and the Academy should have spoken of the intrinsic right of all parents to subsidiarity: the parents, and they alone, while pursuing the good, should have determined the physical fate of their child.

  • Posted by: filioque - Jun. 30, 2017 12:48 AM ET USA

    The bishops and the Vatican both ignore the fact that little Charlie has been kidnapped. His parents are not allowed to remove him from the hospital that is refusing to treat him or even keep him alive.

  • Posted by: james-w-anderson8230 - Jun. 29, 2017 8:57 PM ET USA

    One wonders if the Academy for Life would have offered more assistance before Pope Francis gutted its membership and charter.

  • Posted by: Jim Hanink - Jun. 29, 2017 7:37 PM ET USA

    In such cases Church leadership needs to call attention to the institutional failure of the British medical profession to respect the lives of the unborn. Its failure undercuts the credibility of medical professionals in the case at hand.

  • Posted by: vjenkins78814 - Jun. 29, 2017 6:22 PM ET USA

    This is cruel for these parents who are willing to take their baby overseas. I'm glad, that when I was young, my mother didn't listen to the doctor and took me to the Mayo Clinic anyway - that was 75 years ago. May God be with them.