Pope tweets support for sick toddler Alfie Evans
Pope Francis has waded into the life-support treatment battle surrounding a seriously ill British toddler.
The head of the Catholic Church tweeted about his "sincere hope that everything necessary may be done" to help the case of Alfie Evans - whose parents lost a Supreme Court battle to keep him alive.
The 22-month-old is in a "semi-vegetative state" and has a rare degenerative neurological condition that has not been definitively diagnosed by doctors.
He is being kept alive on a ventilator at Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool. Turning it off would swiftly end his life.
Pope Francis tweeted: "It is my sincere hope that everything necessary may be done in order to continue compassionately accompanying little Alfie Evans, and that the deep suffering of his parents may be heard."
His parents Tom Evans and Kate James, from Liverpool, have been at the centre of a high-profile life support battle, losing a European court fight last Wednesday.
Mr Evans said in a Facebook post to the Alfie's Army Official page that doctors want to switch Alfie's ventilator off as early as Friday.
The couple, in their 20s, have said they want to explore further treatment at a hospital in Rome, hoping that specialists at the Bambino Gesu Paediatric Hospital will be able to pinpoint what is wrong with their son.
The pair, who have run out of legal options in the UK, wanted judges at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg to examine issues surrounding the case, but ECHR judges rejected their bid.
A spokesman for the ECHR said judges had declared the application inadmissible and found no appearance of any human rights violation.
A High Court judge has ruled that doctors can stop treating Alfie against the wishes of his parents.
That decision has been upheld by Court of Appeal judges and Supreme Court justices.