Pope Francis sympathized with the parents of British infant Charlie Gard today after his death was announced publicly.
The pope’s message was followed by countless others, including from United States Vice President Mike Pence and journalist Piers Morgan, according to the Mirror.
“I entrust little Charlie to the Father and pray for his parents and all those who loved him,” the pope said in an emotional online tribute.
I entrust little Charlie to the Father and pray for his parents and all those who loved him.
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) July 28, 2017
Earlier in the day before Charlie’s death was announced, Pope Francis urged people to pray for the infant and his parents.
“Pope Francis is praying for Charlie and his parents and feels especially close to them at this time of immense suffering,” said Greg Burke, a spokesman for the Holy See, according to the Scottish Catholic Observer. “The Holy Father asks that we join in prayer that they may find God’s consolation and love.”
The pope first expressed his support for Charlie and his parents in June. He urged the hospital to respect Charlie’s parents wishes, and assured the family that he was praying for them. A Vatican hospital also offered to treat Charlie if his hospital in London would transfer him.
Charlie Gard passed away after his life support was switched off earlier today. His parents announced his death in a post on social media, saying “our beautiful boy” is gone.
Connie Yates, Charlie’s mother, said: “Our beautiful little boy has gone, we are so proud of you Charlie.”
The infant was at the center of a massive international debate after Great Ormond Street Hospital refused to allow an experimental treatment to help him and also refused to allow him to be transferred to another hospital that would allow the treatment.
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Charlie’s parents took their fight to numerous courts to protect his life but to no avail. The courts agreed that it was in Charlie’s best interest to be removed from life support.
The boy suffered from a rare mitochondrial disease and brain damage. On Thursday, a judge ruled that Charlie would be taken to hospice to die, rather than home as his parents requested.
On Monday, Connie Yates and Chris Gard decided to end the legal battle to get their son experimental treatment. Based on new evidence, the couple said Charlie’s condition has deteriorated too much and there no longer is any hope of the experimental treatment working.
On Thursday, a judge ruled that Charlie would be moved to hospice and his life support would be removed at a time not publicly disclosed. He was not allowed to go home, as his parents wished.
Charlie’s parents have long expressed the desire to be allowed to take him home to die. However, their first choice was to take Charlie to the United States for an experimental treatment. They raised more than $1.5 million for his medical care.
His parents said they knew the chance of the experimental treatment working was slim, but they wanted to try anyway for Charlie’s sake.
However, the courts and hospital refused to allow them to transfer their son to another hospital. About a month ago, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the hospital can remove Charlie’s life support and allow him to die. However, the hospital later agreed to consider new evidence involving Charlie’s condition before taking him off the ventilator.
But on Monday, lawyer Grant Armstrong said experts confirmed that it is too late to treat their son.
The BBC reports Armstrong “told the presiding judge Mr Justice Francis that US neurologist Dr Michio Hirano had said he was no longer willing to offer the baby experimental therapy after he saw the results of a new MRI scan last week.”
Hirano previously said Charlie had an 11 percent to 56 percent chance of benefiting from the experimental treatment. He and a group of doctors examined Charlie last week and gave their expert opinions to the judge.
Questions remain about whether Charlie could have benefited from the experimental treatment, had it not been delayed for months during the legal battle between Charlie’s parents and the hospital. The court battle began in March.
Their last request to take Charlie home to die also was denied.
“We promised Charlie every day we would take him home. It seems really upsetting, after everything we’ve been through, to deny us this,” his mother said.
The hospital opposes the parents’ request. Its lawyers argued that Charlie needs to stay at the hospital or go to a hospice facility until he dies. Doctors claimed his ventilator will not fit through the door of his parents’ home, and he could suffer a painful death.
Despite all of his problems, Charlie’s parents – and millions like them – believe that Charlie is a valuable, living human being who should be given a chance to live.
Leading pro-life advocates helped Charlie’s parents fight for his life.
Charlie’s parents brought Terri Schiavo’s brother Bobby Schindler to London to help them fight for care for their son. Schindler spoke with LifeNews exclusively about their invitation.
Schindler told LifeNews: “We are here by invitation from the family to come alongside them as they struggle to save their son, Charlie. The critical issue here is not a political one, but the simple notion that families know what is best for their loved ones.”
“Charlie’s situation is very reminiscent of my family’s battle to save my sister, Terri. Hopefully being here can help his parents, Connie and Charlie, deal with the day-to-day emotional roller coaster, as they fight for their son’s right to live,” Schindler added.