Plight of baby Charlie unites Churches in compassion
A senior church figure in Northern Ireland has said his heart breaks for the family of terminally-ill Charlie Gard after they lost a legal battle to take the 10-month-old to the US for experimental treatment.
David Smyth of the Evangelical Alliance NI was speaking after the Pope offered support for the boy, whose parents lost a case against Great Ormond Street Hospital, which wanted to end life support.
The Vatican's paediatric hospital has offered care to little Charlie, and Pope Francis called for Charlie's parents to be allowed to "accompany and treat their child until the end".
Mr Smyth said: "As the father of a boy not much older than Charlie, my heart breaks.
"It is incredibly important that parents make decisions for their children as far as possible and that the State intervenes only in absolutely exceptional circumstances. My prayer for Charlie and his family is that even in the midst of the shadow of death, God will grant them supernatural comfort and strength in the days ahead."
Canon Ian Ellis, former editor of the Church of Ireland Gazette, said Charlie and his parents show that the loving bond between infant and parents had truly immense depth and power.
"Because human life is sacred, it must be cared for to the utmost, and can never be ended by another person," he said. "In extreme circumstances, treatment that has the purpose of bringing comfort to the suffering can hasten that person's passing, but the purpose of that treatment, and the motivation for it, must be to bring relief rather than to end a human life."
Methodist spokesman Rev Roy Cooper said: "If there is even a remote possibility his condition could be changed by treatment elsewhere I would be in favour of him being transferred, but the medical experts have indicated that this is not possible.
"Charlie's life is of value and the action of the hospital authority is not denying this."