The trustees have been invited to express themselves one last time on euthanasia before a "definitive decision" from the Holy See.
Administrators of a Catholic hospital group in Belgium are resisting the dictates of their sponsoring religious congregation and the Vatican, as another chapter in the conflict unfolds.
The Vatican has invited the Organization of the Brothers of Charity, the equivalent of the hospitals’ board of trustees, to speak about its approval of euthanasia in the hospitals it manages in Belgium, according to information from a press release from the General Directorate of the Brothers of Charity on October 2. Then, “a final decision will be taken” by the Holy See.
Last September 11, the Organization of the Brothers of Charity refused to reconsider its decision to allow euthanasia at its Belgian medical establishments. It is, therefore, rejecting the Vatican’s demand that it conform to Catholic doctrine.
This opportunity for the board of trustees to express itself before the Holy See is a “last chance,” the press release explained.
The Vatican immediately clarified that this invitation “does not detract from its original request that life be absolutely respected, in all circumstances.”
Sanctions, ranging up to excommunication
Last August, Pope Francis, through the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, ordered that euthanasia be excluded from the centers sponsored by the Brothers of Charity, under penalty of canonical sanctions “ranging up to excommunication.”
The Organization of the Brothers of Charity is the entity that manages the religious congregation’s hospitals in Belgium. However, of the 14 members of the board of trustees, only three are members of the religious Congregation.
Among the lay directors is the former president of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy. On August 13, he stated on Twitter that “the time of ‘Roma locuta, causa finita’ [‘Rome has spoken, the cause is finished’] is long past.”
On this matter, the board is in direct conflict with the leadership of the Congregation of the Brothers of Charity itself; the Superior General, Brother René Stockman, has stated that if the board refuses to reverse its position on euthanasia, the Congregation may sever ties with the Organization.
In Belgium, active euthanasia—that is to say, through the administration of lethal substances—has been legal since 2002. XLN