Belgian religious hospitals defy pope on euthanasia

Belgian Brothers of Charity will continue offering euthanasia to the mental health patients they care for, despite being ordered by the Vatican to stop by the end of August.

Raf De Rycke, who is the head of the province’s board of directors, says the order’s leadership has not been able to resolve the dispute, which is legal in Belgium.

He said the board made the decision last March “with respect for life in mind and not only thinking of patient autonomy.

“This view was developed with the best possible care in mind.”

Composed primarily of lay people, the 14-member board is connected to the Brothers of Charity religious congregation, though it is a separate entity.

The three Brothers of Charity religious on the board were asked to sign a joint letter to their general superior, Brother René Stockman.

In this, they had to declare to Brother René their full support for the vision of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. This has always confirmed human life must be respected and protected. They also had to confirm their commitment to Church teaching.

They have not done so, As a result, they could be expelled from the order.

The board says it is ready to maintain “dialogue and consultation” with the Vatican, which gave them until 11 September to revoke the decision.

The Brother of Charity’s special aim is the sanctification of its members in the religious state by the exercise of works of charity, which embrace every phase of moral and physical suffering and want.

The works “consist in a special manner in tending the sick …  [and] care of the aged and of people with a mental illness …”.

The Brothers’ patron is St Vincent de Paul.

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