Belgian religious order refuses papal order, will continue to allow euthanasia

Belgian religious order refuses papal order, will continue to allow euthanasia

Catholic World News – September 12, 2017

Rejecting an order from Pope Francis, the Brothers of Charity have announed that they will continue to allow euthanasia at the 15 psychiatric hospitals they administer in Belgium.

At a September 12 press conference, leaders of tbe Belgian branch of the religious order said that their policy conforms to Catholic moral teachings. They insisted that “there can be absolutely no doubt” about their fidelity to Church teaching. They said that their policy still “defends the idea that life should be defended,” while respecting the freedom of doctors “to perform euthanasia or not” in their hospitals. The statement also pointed out that other medical personnel are free to refuse involvement in euthanasia.

The Brothers of Charity adopted their policy for the Belgian hospitals in April. The superior general of the order, Brother René Stockman, denounced the policy and called upon the Vatican to take action. Brother Stockman has now said that he will again consult with Vatican officials, but indicated that he would take disciplinary action within two weeks.

In August, Pope Francis had ordered the Brothers of Charity to change their policy, and the Vatican directed all members of the religious order who served on the hospital boards to provide a written assurance that they accept the Church’s teaching that “human life must be respected and protected in absolute terms, from the moment of conception until its natural end.” The Vatican gave the religious order until the end of August to conform to the Church’s teaching.

Also in August, when he was questioned about the possible consequences that would ensue if the hospital policies were not changed, Brother Stockman said that the institutions would be stripped of their Catholic identity.

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