Members of a Belgian nursing order who refused to end a policy which allows doctors to kill psychiatric patients in Church-run homes have been summoned to Rome to explain why they are persisting in a practice that is in blatant defiance of Church teaching on the sanctity of life.
The Catholic Herald is reporting on the latest episode in the ongoing conflict between certain members of the Organization of the Brothers of Charity who decided to defy a direct order from Pope Francis to drop the policy by August of this year or face punishment.
The Brothers currently run 15 psychiatric centers in the Flanders district of Belgium where they serve 5,000 patients a year.
Not only has the organization rejected the Vatican’s ultimatum, but one board member, Herman van Rompuy, a former president of the European Council, arrogantly proclaimed on Twitter that “the time of ‘Roma locuta causa finita’ [Rome has spoken; the matter is finished] is long past.”
The group announced a change to its euthanasia policy in March, saying that it wishes to be in accord with Belgian law on euthanasia. This announcement came a year after a private Catholic rest home in Diest, Belgium was fined $6,600 for refusing the euthanasia request of a 74 year-old woman who was suffering from lung cancer.
Brother René Stockman, the superior general of the Brothers of Charity who vigorously opposes the pro-euthanasia policy, told the Catholic Herald that the invitation to the Vatican represented the organization’s last chance to conform to the wishes of the Church.
“The Organization of the Brothers of Charity shall be invited by the Vatican to come and explain the taken decision, after which a final decision shall be taken,” he said.
“With this is given to the Organization of the Brothers of Charity in Belgium an ultimate chance to set themselves in line with the doctrine of the Catholic Church.”
The Vatican is not willing to compromise on its own position and has no intention of amending “its initial request in line with the doctrine of the Church to respect the life in all conditions absolutely,” he said.
Brothers who refuse to uphold the Church’s teachings will face sanctions under Canon Law, and the group can expect to face legal action and even expulsion from the Church if it fails to change its policy.
The Brothers of Charity was founded in 1807 in Ghent, Belgium, by Fr Peter Joseph Triest, whose cause for beatification was opened in 2001. Their charism is service to the elderly and the mentally ill.
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