Catholic hospitals directed to euthanise mentally ill

A  board governing  several Belgian Catholic psychiatric hospitals says it will to start performing euthanasia in its institutions.

But the religious brothers who operate the hospitals say the policy change is unacceptable and cannot be implemented.

The Brothers of Charity, who oppose euthanasia, are responsible for 15 psychiatric hospitals. Between them they care for 5,000 patients.

The hospitals’ website says they now  “take seriously unbearable and hopeless suffering and patients’ request for euthanasia”.

The chairman of the hospitals’ board, Raf De Rycke, said allowing psychiatric patients to be euthanised isn’t a radical change for the institutions.

In the past, patients have been transferred from the Brothers of Charity hospitals to non-Catholic ones. Now this won’t be necessary.

“We are making both possible routes for our patients: both a pro-life perspective and euthanasia.” he said.

But Brother René Stockman, the superior general of the Brothers of Charity, said the Brothers deplore this new vision.

He is calling on the Church to help him oppose the board’s directive.

Stockman told the Brothers “we cannot accept this decision, because it is going totally against our charism of charity.”

The decision can “not at all” be justified in a Christian framework and is “a real tragedy,” he added.

Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, has strong views about the board’s directive.

“It’s a way of abandoning our people to death,” he said.

“Catholic institutions killing their patients” in Belgium sets a dangerous precedent.

“Euthanasia advocates will use this to exert pressure on Catholic institutions in other countries.”

“It seems to me …, given the libertine view of euthanasia at work in [Belgium], the Brothers … need to reconsider this apostolate,” said moral theologian Father Thomas Petri.

“It would be far worse to remain complicit and cooperate in the culture of death now let loose in their institutions than to withdraw, pray for conversion, and to be prepared to help the victims of the fallout.”


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