My heart breaks for Charlie Gard's parents, says Archbishop of Canterbury

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Church of England General Synod

The Archbishop of Canterbury has said his heart breaks for the parents of Charlie Gard, as he expressed deep sorrow for all those involved in what he called "the most tragic case".

The Most Rev Justin Welby cited the death of his own daughter Johanna when she was less than a year old.

The Archbishop also said the case was a good example of why the world cannot be determined on rationality alone, as he responded to comments from evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins.

Charlie Gard died on Friday after his parents had launched legal action over his treatment, in a case that saw interventions from US President Donald Trump and the Pope.

Rev Welby told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "It's quite well known that one of our own children died and we had to stand by the bed when they died, when the life support was withdrawn.

"I think that in a case like that, I'm not going to say anything except, well, that my heart breaks for the parents.

"What parent would not fight for the life of their child as long as they could? We know what that's like."

He told the programme it must also have been difficult for the medics involved and the judge presiding over the case, saying it was a very good example of where "rational evidence-based thinking is not the whole story".

He added: "The medics weren't operating on that.

"It was clear, I've watched medics do that, that they grieve when they lose a patient, and particularly a child,

"So I just feel deeply sorrowed by the whole thing and feel deeply, deeply, deeply for Charlie Gard's parents and for all the rest of the people involved in the most tragic case.

"Sometimes we want to come to clean, quick conclusions, and it's right just to pause and grieve."

Last week on Today Prof Dawkins said it was important to think rationally rather than with your gut when making big decisions.

"The world is not entirely materialism, it's not entirely made up of what you can experiment with," said Rev Welby.

"There are things we deal with every day - emotions around love, around the value of people, about how we treat those who are weaker and stronger - where mere rationality, even evidence based rationality, which I hold to as a really important thing, does not answer the whole question adequately."