The Troubling Case of Charlie Gard


In recent weeks, the fate of a gravely ill baby boy from England, Charlie Gard, has captivated the hearts and minds of many, including Pope Francis. His story has invited reflection on a wide range of topics, from parental rights to shifting standards for determining so-called quality of life. Wading into these issues is an urgent task. The Church’s guidance in such matters, grounded in the natural law and illumined by divine revelation, must be given a hearing. But Charlie Gard should alert us to a far greater and more uncomfortable reality, which is that present-day culture values expediency and pragmatism more than human life. The resilient fighting and striving on the part of Charlie’s parents for what seems to many to be an insignificant life, neither worth living nor defending, should be seen as a prophetic gesture not only for those who believe in God, but anyone who values the human person. When human life and human suffering — there is no experience of one without the other to some degree — are emptied of any objective value, the very foundations of society and culture are threatened. For Charlie Gard and for every human being whose life seems expendable for reasons medical, economic, political, social or otherwise, we must firmly recommit our voice and our action. A society that makes targets of the defenseless is no society at all. We can do nothing otherwise as believers in a God who made himself defenseless for our own defense against sin and death.