(Brussels) Pope Francis "personally gave the assent to the request of the Congregation of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to give an ultimatum to the Broeders van Liefde (Brothers of Love). Since 27 April 2017, the order has been offering euthanasia to mentally ill patients in hospitals located in the county. The killing on request has been legally permitted in Belgium since 2002. Since then, the "people's circle" has been widened by "improvements", which can have access to legal euthanasia. This includes the euthanasia of children, which can be carried out at the parents' request.
The decision of the Belgian branch of the Catholic Hospital led to a wave of indignation in the Catholic world. René Stockmann, the Father General of the Order, publicly expressed his disapproval and urged his Belgian confreres to respect the right of life "absolutely."
Adaptation to applicable, state law: Collaboration with the culture of death
About a dozen patients of hospitals belonging to the order had asked for euthanasia in the weeks before the euthanasia decision was announced. This led to the decision to submit to the state-sanctioned culture of death. The Belgian Provincial of the Order justified the new line with the Belgian legislation, which the order merely accommodates.
The "strict conditions" under which the Order intends to carry out euthanasia are only valid on paper in Belgium. As studies have shown, the control mechanisms provided by law have never worked. They were regarded as a main argument for the legalization of euthanasia. Critics say that neither the legislature nor the executive or judiciary in Belgium want a real control. Therefore, there is a great deal of room for abuse.
The Catholic Church, in principle, rejects suicide and euthanasia; it considers a human life as sacred from procreation to natural death. Only God, according to ecclesiastical understanding, is master of life and death.
Already in April, the question arose as to whether Pope Francis would intervene. Now, with his consent, an intervention has taken place. The Belgian branch of the Broeders van Liefde was given an ultimatum to dissociate itself from euthanasia by 31 August; otherwise, steps would be taken against the Order in canon law.
The Order's Father General, René Stockmann, informed Catholic News Service that Pope Francis personally endorsed the action of the CDF. "The Holy Father was formally informed by them and also about the next steps," says Stockmann in an e-mail of 8 August.
The provincial government must sign a joint declaration
The members of the Provincial Council of the Belgian Broeders van Liefde must sign a joint declaration by which they submit "unreservedly" to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church,
"which has always taught that human life must be absolutely respected and protected from generation to natural death."
A canonical procedure has been initiated against those who are not to sign the document. Those Belgian Broeders van Liefde refusing to sign could be threatened with excommunication. The recognition of the Belgian order could be withdrawn as a Catholic order. By the entanglement in euthanasia, says Stockmann, "the Catholic identity of the Order is endangered". The Catholic columnist, Francisco Fernandez de la Cigoña, explained that it is unacceptable for Catholic religious to promote euthanasia and collaborate with the culture of death and thereby oppose ecclesiastical doctrine.
According to the Catholic News Service, the Belgian Broeders van Liefde had asked for the approval of their new euthanasia system. When the Belgian bishops and the then prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Gerhard Cardinal Müller, spoke out against this, the hospital order ignored it.
To the hospital of the Broeders van Liefde (Brothers of Love) see the second essay by Ferdinand Boischot: