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Euthanasia in Belgium: Brothers of Charity, defending vision statement., bishops wish to “have closer look at text”

“The Organization of the Brothers of Charity continues to stand by its vision statement on euthanasia for mental suffering in a non-terminal situation”. Thus begins a Communiqué released yesterday by the Board of Directors of the hospitals run by the Congregation in Belgium, which claims that the document on ethics has been prepared in accordance with “the Christian frame of thought as we apply it within the organization”, taking into account “shifts and evolutions within society“ while also considering the “recognition of the exceptional, proportional view of ethics, deontological view and ideologization, and choice of conscience”. The Communiqué also explains that the Brothers have tried to “get both parties to the table”, but “this has not yet produced any results” and that in the meantime they continue to “request establishing a dialogue so that we would have a chance to explain our vision statement and our argumentation”. The Congregation runs 15 hospitals in Belgium, with a total of more than 5,000 beds. According to the Communiqué, the paper published in spring continues to “put the inviolability of life first and not just regard it as equal to the value of autonomy” and efforts are focused on providing “the best possible care” to patients. “We take unbearable and hopeless suffering and patients’ requests for euthanasia seriously”, the statement goes on to say. “We want to protect life and ensure that euthanasia is performed only if there is no more possibility of providing a reasonable treatment perspective to the patient” – all this while respecting the law, the staff, and other patients in the facilities run by the Brothers. “The Bishops’ Conference has not yet made any comments, as the Bishops of our country prefer taking a closer look at the document”, Jean Jacques Durré, editor-in-chief of the Agency of the Bishops ‘ Conference,, wrote yesterday in an article about the affair. “At the moment, the Bishops of Belgium stick to their statement last spring on euthanasia and psychological suffering”. According to Durré, “answers will come in the coming weeks”, also about the reactions of the Superior General of the Order, Fr. René Stockman, who had written to his Brothers in Belgium in August urging them to change their positions, and of the Vatican. Also uncertain is the fate of the three Brothers who are on the Board of Directors who signed the Communiqué, which, moreover, stresses that “the question put to them by the Vatican is very personal and individual, and does not need to be discussed in the media”.

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