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Vatican meeting next week to decide fate of Belgian Brothers of Charity

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The superior general of the Belgian Brothers of Charity is to meet with Vatican officials next week after a hospital group sponsored by the Brothers decided to keep offering euthanasia against an order from the Pope.

Br René Stockman told the Catholic News Agency that “the next step is a meeting with the authorities of the Vatican during the week of September 25. We will then make our decisions in accordance with the vision of the Vatican.”

He warned the Brothers may withdraw their sponsorship from the psychiatric hospital group, depriving it of its Catholic identity.

The group, which is dominated by lay members, issued a statement last week claiming euthanasia was “consistent” with Catholic teaching as “we always take into account the shifts and evolutions within society”.

Br Stockman strongly rejects this claim, saying: “This is totally wrong and against the doctrine of the Church.”

“The whole issue starts with the refusal to see the respect of life still as absolute. For them, it became fundamental, on the same level as the autonomy of the patient and the relation in the care. Therefore we cannot accept their statement. They take distance of the doctrine of the Church.”

Br Stockman said the Holy See had “asked the hospitals to conform themselves with the doctrine of the Church about the absolute respect for life and not doing euthanasia to psychiatric patients.

“After our request as general superior and council and after the statement of the Belgian Bishops, the civil corporation governing our hospitals in Belgium refused to adapt their vision.”