CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 9 December 2017

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Brothers’ part in euthanasia to be investigated

MANCHESTER (CNS): The Vatican is investigating the decision by a group of psychiatric care centres run by the Brothers of Charity in Belgium to permit doctors to euthanise non-terminal, mentally ill patients on its premises.
 
Brother Rene Stockman, the superior general of the congregation, said that Pietro Cardinal Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state, is personally looking into the situation.
 
Brother Stockman, a psychiatric care specialist, complained directly to Rome after the Brothers of Charity Group, which runs 15 centres for psychiatric patients across Belgium, rejected a formal request from him to reverse the new policy. 
 
The group announced that it would allow euthanasia on its premises in March, about a year after a private Catholic rest home in Diest was fined US$6,600 ($51,282) for refusing to euthanise a 74-year-old woman suffering from lung cancer.
 
He explained that for the brothers, “respect of life is absolute and cannot be offered for the autonomy of the patient,” but noted that the group’s board of directors, largely comprised of lay people, see euthanasia as a medical act.
 
“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,” he said, adding, “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.” He expressed his hopes for a clear answer from both.
 
“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,” Brother Stockman said.
 
The Brothers of Charity were founded in 1807 in Ghent, Belgium, by Father Peter Joseph Triest. In the Flanders region, it is considered to be the most important provider of mental health care services and also runs schools, employing about 12,000 staff nationwide.

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