The decision to allow euthanasia in care homes run by the Brothers of Charity is “deeply painful”, the institute’s Superior General has said.
In an article for the Catholic Herald, Brother Rene Stockman said the practice is “utterly unworthy of us” and called on the board of directors in Belgium to “withdraw this decision”.
“For 200 years the Brothers of Charity, and our staff, have always sought to treat, cure, heal patients in ever better ways,” he wrote.
“Today, the profession continues to make progress in treating mental illness. Even when there is no total cure, we can always accompany the patient.
“To use euthanasia as a kind of ultimate therapy would be utterly unworthy of us. It would be as if we were helping a patient who is on the verge of the abyss to take the leap of death, by giving him a little push.”
The Vatican is presently investigating the decision by the group’s largely lay board of directors to allow euthanasia in its 15 Belgian centres, which provide care for more than 5,000 patients a year.
Br Stockman described the move by the directors as “disloyal, outrageous and unacceptable”.
He also warned the move could gave “unsettling” legal implications.
“Since Belgium legalised euthanasia, the institutions of the Brothers of Charity have always been safe places. We have simply said that euthanasia is impossible within the walls of our institutions. This policy could now be under threat.”
He called for the centres to return instead to their original ethos.
“[W]e can only hope and pray that this view is abandoned and that the absolute inviolability of life would again be the only option. That is the only thing that fits in with the charism of our Congregation. It is also what our beloved founder, the Servant of God Peter Joseph Triest, lived by and entrusted to us.”