Forthcoming Vatican “interference”?

Forthcoming Vatican “interference”?

1. Concerns about possible Vatican intervention in new maternity hospital

Amnesty sends letter to Minister for Health outlining ‘significant issue’ regarding ownership and ethos

Mary Minihan
Irish Times

Concerns about the possible intervention of the Vatican in the future ownership and ethos of the new National Maternity Hospital (NMH) have been raised with the Minister for Health Simon Harris by Amnesty International Ireland.
Executive director Colm O’Gorman said he had set out fresh questions in a letter to the Minister this week, focused on the transfer of ownership of the NMH to the religious-owned St Vincent’s Healthcare Group.
“One significant issue which we have not seen addressed is the question of possible intervention by the Vatican regarding issues of both ownership and ethos of the facility,” Mr O’Gorman told The Irish Times.
Mr O’Gorman said the Sisters of Charity was an institute of pontifical right, meaning it was under the ultimate authority of the Pope.
“It is not clear to us that the Sisters of Charity are able to give assurance that they will not be required to enforce Catholic ethos in a hospital owned by them, without having received assurances themselves from the Holy See that they are free to do so.”
He said he would like to know if such assurances had been sought from the Vatican authorities.
Mr O’Gorman also said it was “not inconceivable” that the Sisters of Charity could be wound down at some point in the future due to declining membership, or because the Vatican decided that was appropriate “for any reason”.
He said his understanding of canon law was that the only way the congregation could cease to exist was if “the Holy See suppresses it”.
In such circumstances he outlined that Canon Law was clear the “temporal goods” of the religious institute would be disposed of by the Pope alone.
“This would obviously include any asset of the congregation including property, monies, shares and securities or companies in their ownership.

Questions of independence
“In such a scenario, we would be interested to know how the State could ensure that the hospital remained part of Ireland’s public health system and fully free to operate independently of religious ethos”.
He said he was concerned that his questions be addressed to avoid any delays in the building of the hospital because it was so desperately needed.
Sr Agnes Reynolds, a member of the St Vincent’s Healthcare Group board and member of the Sisters of Charity, said last month the €300 million hospital due to be built on the St Vincent’s campus in Dublin would “always respect the rights of the mother and the baby”.

2. Vatican launches Belgium euthanasia investigation

The Vatican is formally investigating a group of psychiatric care centers in Belgium run by a Catholic religious order which has enforced that doctors in the facilities perform euthanasia. Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, will be overseeing the situation himself.

Simon Caldwell
May 6, 2017

MANCHESTER, England – The Vatican is investigating the decision of a group of psychiatric care centers run by a Catholic religious order in Belgium to permit doctors to perform euthanasia of “nonterminal” mentally ill patients on its premises.
Brother Rene Stockman, superior general of the Brothers of Charity, told Catholic News Service that Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, is personally examining the situation.
Brother Stockman complained directly to Rome after the Brothers of Charity Group, which runs 15 centers for psychiatric patients across Belgium, rejected a formal request from him to reverse the new policy.
In a May 4 email to CNS, Stockman said: “Because it is a matter of the Belgian group, I informed the Belgian bishops’ conference in order to ask for their opinion and to ask a clear statement of them.
“At the same time, I am in contact with the Vatican – the Congregation (for Institutes) of Consecrated Life (and Societies of Apostolic Life) and the secretary of state who asked me for more information,” said Stockman, a psychiatric care specialist.
“I hope that there will come a clear answer from the Belgian bishops and the Vatican,” he continued. “I have trust in it.”
He suggested that the new policy could force the brothers from providing psychiatric care in Belgium.
Stockman said: “I wait for the clear answer of the church and that answer will be presented to our organization, in the hope that it will adapt its vision … I hope we will not have to withdraw our responsibility in the field of mental health care in the place where we started as a congregation with such care more than 200 years ago.”
The Brothers of Charity was founded in 1807 in Ghent, Belgium, by Father Peter Joseph Triest, whose cause for beatification was opened in 2001.
Inspired by the spirituality of St. Vincent de Paul and dedicated to working with the elderly and the mentally ill, the order initially was known as the Hospital Brothers of St. Vincent and spread to 30 countries.
In the Flanders region of Belgium, the group is considered to be the most important provider of mental health care services, serving 5,000 patients a year. The order also runs schools, employing about 12,000 staff nationwide.
The Brothers of Charity Group announced it would allow euthanasia on its premises in a nine-page document in March, about a year after a private Catholic rest home in Diest, Belgium, was fined $6,600 for refusing the euthanasia of a 74-year-old woman suffering from lung cancer.
About 12 psychiatric patients in the care of the Brothers of Charity are believed to have asked for euthanasia over the past year, with two of them being transferred elsewhere to receive the injections to end their lives.
The new policy document harmonizes the practices of the centers in the group with Belgian law on euthanasia.
It sought to balance the Catholic belief in the inviolability of innocent human life with duty of care under the law and with the demands of patient autonomy.
Stockman said, however, that for the brothers, “respect of life is absolute and cannot be offered for the autonomy of the patient.”
The group’s largely lay board of directors, he said, see euthanasia as a medical act, but the brothers “cannot accept it as a medical act.
“Finally, they agree that euthanasia should be done inside the institutes,” he said. “We always refused to let euthanasia be done inside the walls of the center.”
He rejected suggestions that many of the Brothers themselves favored the policy, insisting instead that the order upholds the doctrine of the Catholic and “cannot accept the law on euthanasia.”
Stockman said: “The whole mentality in Belgium is changing very fast and there is pressure from the government against any refusal of euthanasia. But until now, the institutes have had the right to refuse.
“I see it as a real crisis and I call it a door that is opened and cannot be closed anymore,” he added. “More groups will be touched by it: It started with somatic suffering, now psychiatric suffering, afterward people with a severe handicap, elderly people and so on.”
Belgium legalized euthanasia in 2003, a year after the Netherlands became the first country since Nazi Germany to introduce the procedure.
Technically, euthanasia in Belgium remains an offense, with the law protecting doctors from prosecution only if they abide by specific criteria.
In 2014, the law was extended to “emancipated children,” and doctors are increasingly giving lethal injections to people who are disabled, demented or mentally ill.

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One comment on “Forthcoming Vatican “interference”?

  1. He said his understanding of canon law was that the only way the congregation could cease to exist was if “the Holy See suppresses it”.
    In such circumstances he outlined that Canon Law was clear the “temporal goods” of the religious institute would be disposed of by the Pope alone.

    Hmmmm. Does this apply to the Knights of Malta and the 30 million francs?

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