LEICESTER, United Kingdom – An English bishop has called on people to “be reserved in our judgement” in the latest tragic case of a seriously ill child being threatened with the removal of her life support.

In February, Five-year-old Tafida Raqeeb had a blood vessel rupture in her brain, and has been in a coma since.

Doctors at the Royal London Hospital claim further treatment is futile and want to remove the child from life support.

Her parents – Shelina Begum and Mohammed Raqeeb – want to take her to Italy for further treatment and petitioned the High Court to allow their daughter to travel abroad.

The Gaslini Children’s Hospital in Genoa has offered to take Tafida as a patient and said she wouldn’t be in danger of having her life support removed.

The case is reminiscent of that of Charlie Gard in 2017 and Alfie Evans in 2018: In both cases, British courts ruled against parents trying to take their child abroad for further treatment against the judgement of hospital staff.

The Vatican-owned Bambino Gesù children’s hospital offered to treat both children, and Pope Francis expressed his personal support for the parents.

However, the English bishops refused to take sides in the Gard and Evans cases, noting that the medical staff acted “with integrity” and made decisions based on the patients’ “good as they see it.”

John Sherrington, the lead bishop for life issues for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, similarly refused to take sides in the Raqeeb case.

“The tragic illness and circumstances of little Tafida Raqeeb will touch everyone who hears of it. I hope it will also move them to pray, as it does me,” he said in a July 18 statement.

“I pray for this little girl that she and her parents are strengthened by the presence of God, by the mercy of God and by the support of all who know and love her,” the bishop continued. “Difficult dilemmas have to be faced. In that process, I hope that all due weight will be given to the wishes of her parents, while also respecting the clinical judgement of the doctors caring for her. Those of us not in possession of all the relevant information might best be reserved in our judgement.”

Sherrington said that he trusts the doctors from the Italian hospital “will be given time and opportunity to come to a well-informed view and to share their prognosis with their colleagues here in London, adding that such “international cooperation is essential good practice in the care of tragically difficult lives.”

Follow Charles Collins on Twitter: @CharlesinRome

Crux is dedicated to smart, wired and independent reporting on the Vatican and worldwide Catholic Church. That kind of reporting doesn’t come cheap, and we need your support. You can help Crux by giving a small amount monthly, or with a onetime gift. Please remember, Crux is a for-profit organization, so contributions are not tax-deductible.