CNA Staff, Dec 1, 2023 / 11:35 am (CNA).
Pope Francis sent his condolences on Friday to the family of Indi Gregory, the British baby who died last month after U.K. courts ordered her life support removed.
The 8-month-old baby died in her mother’s arms in a hospice on Nov. 13, having suffered from a rare degenerative mitochondrial disease over the course of her short life. England’s high court had ruled that it was in the child’s “best interests” to be taken off life support against her parents’ wishes.
Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said in a telegram addressed to Bishop Patrick McKinney of Nottingham on Friday that the Holy Father “was saddened to learn of the death of little Indi Gregory.”
The pope “sends condolences and the assurance of his spiritual closeness to her parents, Dean and Claire, and to all who mourn the loss of this precious child of God,” the telegram said.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales said on its website that the Friday message was read aloud at baby Indi’s funeral. The Vatican had said in November that Francis was praying for the baby amid the life support dispute.
“Entrusting Indi into the tender and loving hands of our Heavenly Father, His Holiness joins those gathered for her funeral in thanking Almighty God for the gift of her all-too-short life,” the Friday telegram said.
Quoting the Gospel of Matthew, the Vatican said Francis “likewise prays that the Lord Jesus, who said to his disciples, ‘Let the little children come to me… for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs’ will grant abiding comfort, strength, and peace to you all.”
The decision to remove baby Indi from life support was the culmination of a bitter back-and-forth between her parents and the British courts. British Justice Robert Peel originally ruled in early November, following an “urgent online hearing,” that her life support be discontinued.
At one point the Vatican’s pediatric hospital, Bambino Gesù, offered to treat the 8-month-old baby, with the Italian government electing to grant her Italian citizenship and to cover the cost of her medical treatment.
Dean Gregory said the fight over his daughter’s life left him feeling as if he’d been “dragged to hell” and ultimately influenced his decision to have the girl baptized.