Pope 'deeply moved' by death of British toddler Alfie Evans

Pope Francis presides the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) torchlight procession at the Colosseum on Good Friday, on March 30, 2018 in Rome. (Filippo Montegorte/AFP)
Pope Francis presides the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) torchlight procession at the Colosseum on Good Friday, on March 30, 2018 in Rome. (Filippo Montegorte/AFP)

Vatican City - Pope Francis said on Saturday he was "deeply moved" by the news that terminally-ill British toddler Alfie Evans had died after his parents lost a legal battle to seek medical help in Italy.

"I am deeply moved by the death of little Alfie. Today I pray especially for his parents, as God the Father receives him in his tender embrace," the pontiff wrote on his Twitter account.

Evans died on Saturday after doctors withdrew life support.

The parents had fought to take their son, who had a degenerative condition that caused irreversible brain damage, out of a hospital in Liverpool in northwest England to a clinic in Rome but lost a final court appeal on Wednesday.

Doctors had already removed life support on Monday after the parents lost a previous appeal to keep him alive.

Pope Francis intervened several times in the case that touched hearts around the world and prompted vigils in Italy and Poland.

Earlier this week the pontiff wrote on Twitter that he hoped the parents' "desire to seek new forms of treatment may be granted".

"The only master of life, from the beginning to its natural end, is God, and our duty is to do everything to protect life," he said.

Thomas Evans had also met with the pope in the Vatican last week and asked him to "save our son".

A bus passes balloons and posters left in support of British toddler Alfie Evans. (File: Oli Scarff/AFP)

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