CNA Staff, May 4, 2020 / 11:01 am
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has ordered 15 psychiatric hospitals in Belgium which belong to the Brothers of Charity to cease identifying as Catholic institutions after they allowed the euthanization of patients in 2017.
The hospitals are managed by a civil non-profit corporation with the same name as the Brothers of Charity religious congregation which owns them.
The CDF decision was communicated in a letter dated March 30, stating that "with deep sadness" the "psychiatric hospitals managed by the Provincialate of the Brothers of Charity association in Belgium will no longer be able to consider themselves Catholic institutions."
In a statement responding to the CDF's decision, the superior general of the Brothers of Charity, Br. René Stockman, said that "with a heavy heart" the religious congregation "must let go of its psychiatric centers in Belgium."
Br. Stockman pointed out that it is "painful" that the psychiatric centers of the Brothers of Charity in Belgium have lost their Catholic status, considering also that the brothers "were among the pioneers in the field of mental health care in Belgium."
At the same time, Stockman said he recognizes that "the congregation [the Brothers of Charity] has no choice but to remain faithful to the charism of charity, which cannot be reconciled with the practice of euthanasia on psychiatric patients."
The decision by the Vatican's doctrinal office ends three years of disputes between the Brothers of Charity and the corporation which manages their hospitals in Belgium.
In 2017, the board decided to allow euthanasia to be carried out in its hospitals in Belgium, where the euthanasia law is among the most broad.