© L'Osservatore Romano

Russia: The Orthodox Church Supports Charlie Gard’s Parents

A Profound Crisis of the Notion of the Rights of Man

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The Russian Orthodox Church protested against the decision taken by European Courts to remove the life support systems from 10-month-old British baby Charlie Gard, who suffers from a rare genetic disease, indicated the Russian agency Interfax on Tuesday, July 4, 2017.
“Today the right to life gives way to the right to death,” deplored Metropolitan Hilarion, Head of the Department of Foreign Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate. Metropolitan Hilarion described as “monstrous” the decision of the European Court of Human Rights to halt the hydration and feeding of the baby, which would mean to let him die. This “decision”, he said, “demonstrates an extremely profound crisis of the notion of protection of the rights of man.”
According to the Metropolitan, the situation is particularly dramatic because the child’s parents cannot make an independent decision: “Why in the 21st century, in a free democratic State, a family is closed in a Clinic because of the Court’s decision and it cannot turn to another Clinic?”, he asked.
The Metropolitan holds that it is “a violation of the parents’ conscience, mockery and sadism painted in humanist colors.”
He stressed that there are doctors in the United States who are ready to treat and finance the treatment. Despite that, the Court decided “in the best interests” of the child to remove the life support systems.
Concluding, Metropolitan Hilarion hopes that Charlie’s parents will have the chance to give their child the treatment they believe is necessary: “I pray that they will be able to go through the terrible trials that they must face. I hope that the merciful God will not deprive little Charlie of his love and transform his suffering in the promise of eternal life,” he said.
Charlie Gard was born on August 4, 2016, and he has a rare disease that has damaged his brain: he depends on assistance to breathe, but he does not receive any other care; he is hydrated and fed through a tube.
On June 27, the European Court of Human Rights rejected Charlie’s parents request to take their child to the United States for experimental treatment and the British High Court pronounced itself in favor of halting the child’s breathing, hydration and feeding assistance.
Pope Francis expressed his closeness to the little boy’s parents in a message made public by his spokesman, Greg Burke, on Sunday, July 2. The Bambino Gesu (Infant Jesus) pediatric hospital, a dependency of the Vatican, stated it was ready to receive Charlie in Rome if his parents so wished and if his state permitted it.
However, on Tuesday, July 4, Enoc, head of the hospital, said that it would not be possible for “legal” reasons: in any case, it is the answer of the English hospital where Charlie is at present, reported Vatican Radio. She said little Charlie’s mother contacted her to discuss his care.
In regard to surmounting the legal reasons, the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin assured: “If we can do it, we will do it,” reported the same source.
American President Donald Trump also reacted to the baby’s dramatic situation, quoting Pope Francis: “If we can help little Charlie Gard, with our friends in Great Britain and with the Pope, we will be delighted to do so,” he posted on his Twitter account on Monday, July 3.

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Marina Droujinina

Journalist (Moscow & Brussels). Theology (Brussels, IET).

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