The Right Reverend John Sherrington, Bishop for Life Issues for the Bishops’ Conference, has responded to the Court of Appeal’s decision to uphold a High Court Ruling to end treatment for Pippa Knight:
“The tragedy of little Pippa Knight’s illness is profoundly sad, and I offer my heartfelt prayers and thoughts for her, for Paula her mother, her family, the healthcare professionals caring for her, and the judges who have to make difficult and heart-breaking judgements.
“Pippa is living in a seriously disabled way due to her complex and rare medical condition. The Catholic Church teaches that every person has worth and dignity which is independent of their condition. Lack of awareness does not diminish worth.
“The ruling to allow medics to cease Pippa’s treatment based on her quality of life or worth does not acknowledge or afford her the inherent human dignity with which she was born. The determination of continuing treatment must be in accord with the benefits and burdens which this or a different regime of treatment provides.
“We must uncompromisingly ensure that proper care is given where there is still life, despite serious illness or disability. We are reminded that such care must include the provision of nutrition and hydration, by whatever means, which is neither treatment nor medicine, unless this itself becomes overly burdensome.
“Pope Francis has written, ‘In caring for and accompanying a given patient, the personal and relational elements in his or her life and death – which is after all the last moment in life – must be given a consideration befitting human dignity.’” 1
“The intentional ending of the life of a critically ill patient because of a judgement made of its quality is never in the patient’s best interests. At the heart of humanity must be a call to show love and solidarity with the most vulnerable in society, and to defend the lives of our more fragile brothers and sisters who are unable to do so themselves.
“My heartfelt prayers are with little Pippa and her mother Paula during this difficult time of suffering, as well as with those caring for Pippa. I hope that everything possible will now be done to accompany and support Pippa and her family following today’s ruling.”
The Right Reverend John Sherrington
Bishop for Life
Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster
1 Message of His Holiness Pope Francis to the participants in the European Regional Meeting of the World Medical Association