As a response, the general superior went to the Belgian Catholic Bishops Conference and asked that they back him in the debate. When the organization continued to resist, despite pressure from the bishops conference, Br. Stockman took the issue to the Vatican.
He was eventually invited to present the issue before both the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith and the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, both of which became involved in investigating the issue.
The doctrinal congregation then promptly drafted a letter reiterating the Church's position on euthanasia and insisted that the group step back into line with doctrine. However, the letter was ignored.
Br. Stockman then received a specific mandate from the Congregation for Consecrated Life "to see that the organization can again be in line" with Church teaching.
Part of his mandate is enforcing the ultimatum and gathering the group's response by the end of August. Br. Stockman said he has not spoken with Pope Francis personally, but that it is the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life who conceived the ultimatum and presented it to the Pope, who gave it his full support.
Of the three brothers who are members of the organization's board of trustees – the majority of board consists of laypeople – Br. Stockman said he is still waiting for their answers, but is "quite positive about that, I can say that, I think the brothers will conform themselves."
To ask the brothers to reaffirm their adherence to Church teaching is "logical," he said, because "when you are a religious, then you have to be in line with the Church."
"I know them and they are really under pressure from the whole mentality," he said, but voiced confidence that they will send the letter without any problems.
As for the organization itself, the general superior said he has been in contact with the board members. "They said they received the letter and that they will discuss again in their board the situation," he said, adding "I am waiting for the final answer."
When asked if there was fear that even if the organization does change the policy back, they would be forced by the state to provide euthanasia, Br. Stockman said that thankfully, as of now institutions can't be forced, "so I think we also have to use this opening not to do it."
"If the law changes and they say that institutions have to do euthanasia, then the situation becomes totally different. Then we have to ask ourselves, can we still continue as a Catholic hospital in a certain environment where we are forced to do euthanasia?"
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"But until now we have the possibility to refuse euthanasia inside the walls of the institute," he said.
Elise Harris was senior Rome correspondent for CNA from 2012 to 2018.