Pope’s ultimatum: stop euthanasia at Brothers of Charity hospitals

The superior general of the Brothers of Charity is welcoming an ultimatum from Pope Francis for his order’s psychiatric centres to stop offering euthanasia to patients.

Brother Rene Stockman says Francis gave his personal approval to a Vatican demand that the Brothers of Charity reverse its policy by the end of August and reassert its belief that “respect for human life is absolute.”

The Brothers of Charity is considered the most important provider of mental health care services in the Flanders region of Belgium, where they serve 5,000 patients a year in 15 centers.

Besides reversing its policies, Francis says brothers who serve on the Brothers of Charity Group board that runs the centers must each sign a joint letter to their superior general declaring they:

“… fully support the vision of the magisterium of the Catholic Church, which has always confirmed that human life must be respected and protected in absolute terms, from the moment of conception till its natural end.”

Brothers who refuse to sign will face sanctions under canon law.

The Brothers of Charity Group as an entity is also the subject of Francis’s instructions.

He says the Group cannot continue to consider euthanasia as a solution to human suffering under any circumstances. It can also expect to face legal action and expulsion from the church if it fails to change its policy.

Francis’s ultimatum follows Stockman’s appeal for help from the Vatican when the Group changed its policy on euthanasia earlier this year.

The ultimatum was an outcome of a joint investigation into the Brothers of Charity policy by the Vatican’s congregations for the Doctrine of the Faith and for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

The two congregations devised the ultimatum.

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