Rome, August 5, 2017. The Vatican takes a clear statement in response to the euthanasia debate with the organization of the Brothers of Charity in Belgium and asks the Superior General to take further steps.
After the discussion that was conducted over the last few months between the Organization of the Brothers of Charity in Belgium and the General Administration of the Brothers of Charity through Br. René Stockman Superior General, with regard to whether or not of the admissibility of euthanasia within the facilities for mental health services of the Brothers of Charity in Belgium, took the Belgian Organization in June this year the decision to allow euthanasia under certain conditions in the facilities for mental health care. This decision contradicted the vision of the General Council of the Congregation, as well the vision of the Belgian Bishops, who stated in their declaration of 22 May 2017, that they could not accept euthanasia, in this case in patients with a psychiatric disorder.
Br. René Stockman, Superior General, was asked by the dicasteries of the Roman Curia, in particular the Secretariat of State, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Congregation for Consecrated Life, to report on the situation within the Belgian branch of the Brothers of Charity. This resulted in a clear statement due to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith with a request to the Superior General that he would pass this statement to the Organization of the Brothers of Charity in Belgium and to ask them to conform to this vision that excludes any form of euthanasia.
After further consultation between these three dicasteries and a final consultation with the Pope, formulated the Prefect of the Congregation for Consecrated Life, Cardinal de Aviz, as responsible in the Vatican for the Congregations of Pontifical Right, in a letter to the Superior General the way in which the follow-up of this dossier should occur.
In that, the Superior General is praised and encouraged for his clear statement regarding euthanasia, he is ordered and mandated to take further steps. The Superior General will do everything possible to align the Organization with the vision of the Catholic Church and, in the absence of it, to take the necessary legal steps to improve the Catholic identity and position, interests and structures of the Brothers of Charity and their works.
Additionally, he is asked to ask the Brothers who are members of the Board of the Organization Brothers of Charity in Belgium to draft a formal letter declaring to the Superior General that they fully support the vision of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church which has always confirmed that human life must be respected and protected in absolute terms, from the moment of conception till its natural end.
The Organization Brothers of Charity in Belgium needs to be asked again to amend the text about the application of euthanasia on psychiatric patients, so that the practice is in line with the just mentioned vision of the Magisterium of the Catholic Doctrine and also in line with the charisma of the Brothers of Charity.
This means that the already mentioned vision text must be adapted in accordance with the following principles: the confirmation that the respect for human life is absolute; the refusal to accept hopelessness of a patient and if there is no longer a treatment perspective to see this as arguments for euthanasia; the non-acceptance of considering euthanasia as a medical act and the hon-acceptance of euthanasia within the walls of the institution of the Brothers of Charity if the legal conditions under Belgian law are met.
Both the Brothers as well the Organization were informed of the position taken by the Vatican and are invited to respond positively to what is being asked within a period of one month.
The Belgian region of the Brothers of Charity, the other board members of the congregation, the Belgian bishops and the Papal Nuncio were also informed of this further evolution.
Bro. René Stockman
Brothers of Charity