A group of psychiatric care centres run by a Catholic religious order in Belgium has announced it will permit doctors to undertake the euthanasia of ‘nonterminal’ mentally ill patients on its premises.
In a nine-page document, the Brothers of Charity Group stated that it would allow doctors to perform euthanasia in any of its 15 centres, which provide care to more than 5,000 patients a year, subject to carefully stipulated criteria.
Brother Rene Stockman, the superior general, has distanced himself from the decision of the group’s largely lay board of directors, however, and has told Belgian media that the policy was a tragedy.
“We cannot accept that euthanasia is carried out within the walls of our institutions,” said Brother Stockman, a specialist in psychiatric care, in an interview with De Morgen newspaper in Brussels on 27th April.
He told the newspaper that he intended to raise the matter with Catholic authorities in Rome and with the Belgian bishops.
Carine Brochier, a Catholic bioethicist from Brussels, told Catholic News Service she was certain that political and financial pressure was exerted on the Brothers of Charity Group to allow euthanasia.
The group’s new policy document, which was drafted in March, comes about a year after a court fined the St Augustine Catholic rest home in Diest, Belgium, for refusing to allow the euthanasia of a lung cancer patient on its premises.
Picture: Activists of the collective Yellow Safety Jacket take part in an anti-euthanasia protest in Brussels on 11th February 2014,. A group of psychiatric care centres run by a Catholic religious order in Belgium has announced it will permit doctors to undertake the euthanasia of ‘nonterminal’ mentally ill patients on its premises. (CNS photo/Julien Warnand, EPA).