Pope Francis has said that Charlie Gard’s parents should be allowed to “accompany and care” for their child “to the end”.

The 10-month-old was born in England with mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, which causes progressive muscle weakness, brain damage and respiratory or liver failure; it is typically fatal.

Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said in a statement: “The Holy Father follows with affection and commotion the situation of Charlie Gard, and expresses his own closeness to his parents.

“He prays for them, wishing that their desire to accompany and care for their own child to the end will be respected.”

Hospital specialists believed that Charlie Gard had no chance of survival, but the parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, crowdfunded nearly $1.7 million in four months to finance having the baby treated in the United States.

When hospital officials wanted to stop providing life support for the baby, Gard and Yates went to a London court with their case, but the court ruled the baby should be allowed to “die with dignity” and doctors could stop providing life support.

After the ruling was upheld by an appeals court and the nation’s Supreme Court dismissed the parents’ case, Gard and Yates turned to judges in the European court of human rights. However, that court decided on June 27 that it would not intervene in the case.