Pope Francis on baby Charlie Gard and the 'duty' to defend human life

FacebookCharlie Gard with his parents Connie Yates and Chris Gard.

Pope Francis has intervened in the Charlie Gard baby case, speaking up for the need to defend human life, especially when it is 'wounded by illness'.

He has spoken of his 'emotion' at the case and his sense of 'closeness' to Charlie's parents Chris and Connie.

Greg Burke, director of the Holy See Press Office, said the Pope is praying for the parents of Charlie, aged 10 months.

And he said Francis hopes that that their desire to accompany and care for their own child to the end is not ignored'.

One of the Pope's latest tweets is also understood to refer to Charlie's case.

The Pope said on the social media network: 'To defend human life, above all when it is wounded by illness, is a duty of love that God entrusts to all.'

The statement came as members of the public protested outside Buckingham Palace against turning off the baby's life support. 

Charlie's life has hung in the balance since his birth. He suffers from mitochondrial depletion syndrome, a rare genetic illness which leads to progressive brain damange and muscle.

The European Court of Human Rights has refused the parents' appeal to take him to the US for experimental treatment. The court also refused to allow them to take Charlie home to die.

The full statement from Pope Francis reads: 'The Holy Father follows with affection and emotion the case of little Charlie Gard and expresses his own closeness to his parents. For them he prays, hoping that their desire to accompany and care for their own child to the end is not ignored.'

FacebookCharlie Gard with his father Chris Gard

Previously, a Vatican bioethics advisory panel had made a statement on the need to accept the limits of what medicine can do.

But last Friday, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia of the Pontifical Academy of Life, said: 'We should never act with the deliberate intention to end a human life, including the removal of nutrition and hydration.'