There are a lot of cross-currents at work in this case of a 13-year-old cancer patient who wishes to opt out of chemotherapy in favor of some kind of "naturopathic" stuff. It's a Catholic family, but they " also believe in the 'do no harm' philosophy of the Nemenhah Band, a
Missouri-based religious group that believes in natural healing methods
advocated by some American Indians.".
By itself, a strong belief in natural remedies is not incompatible with Catholicism (or any kind of Christian belief I know of), but it could get into some weird areas. If there is an admixture of shamanism (the family claims the boy is a "medicine man and elder in the Nemenhah Band"), then it may in fact be in positive conflict with Church teaching... if the Nemenhah band teaches, for instance, that faith healing is obligatory and that modern medical practices are of the devil, or something.
If they just want to believe that modern medicine just doesn't work as well as natural cures, they are completely free to do that as Catholics.
The boy is 13, on the cusp of manhood, and so the question of how much freedom and control he should have over his treatment is difficult to answer.
Also, it is cases like this one - rare, but sensational - that can easily be used to undermine the natural autonomy of all families by passing laws that take parental consent out of the picture altogether. Mandatory medical treatment enforced by the state is not something we should be really excited to see increasing.
How would a Jewish or Muslim family react if the state decided that one of their loved ones needed an organ transplant from a pig? How would they be allowed to react? If the patient was a devout Jew or Muslim, could it not possibly cause a horrible, personal/psychological/emotional crisis? Would they be allowed to opt out, then, for "religious" reasons?
At the same time, one hates to see kids caught up in the (possible) kookiness of the parents and end up paying with their lives. It's a sticky situation, but I truly hate to see the power of the state expand yet again at the expense of family sovereignty. The parents, in this case, are obviously not out to harm the boy. They just disagree with the state on the best way to approach his treatment. True neglect may be difficult or impossible to establish.
Please pray for these folks, especially that the boy's cancer will just go away. I don't think the family would mind that sort of intervention in their affairs.