Pope offers prayers for critically ill baby girl in Britain

International convention of rectors and shrine workers at the Vatican

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis on Saturday offered his prayers for a critically ill British baby girl whose parents lost their legal fight last month to keep her on life support and have her transferred to the Vatican children's hospital in Rome.

Eight-month-old Indi Gregory suffers from a rare and incurable mitochondrial disease which means her cells do not produce enough energy.

Her doctors say she suffers from significant pain and distress and there is no point in continuing treatment. On Friday, her parents lost another legal bid in which they sought to have her life support ended at home rather than in a hospital or hospice.

The pope "embraces the family of little Indi Gregory, her father and mother, prays for them and for her, and turns his thoughts to all the children who in these same hours, around the world, are living in pain or are risking their lives due to disease and war," a Vatican statement said.

England's High Court ruled in October that it was in the baby's "best interests" to be taken off life support, refusing a request from her parents to be allowed to airlift her to the Vatican's Bambino Gesu paediatric centre.

Earlier this week, the Italian government granted the baby girl Italian citizenship in a further, but apparently fruitless, move aimed at preventing doctors from taking her off life support and allowing her transfer to Italy.

(Reporting by Alvise Armellini; Editing by Helen Popper)