Source: Associated Press
By NICOLE WINFIELD
VATICAN CITY (AP) — A Belgian religious congregation is defying Pope Francis’ order to stop allowing euthanasia in its psychiatric hospitals, saying that its decision to do so is fully consistent with Catholic doctrine.
In a statement Tuesday, the Belgian branch of the Brothers of Charity stood by its decision and said negotiations with church officials to resolve the standoff hadn’t yielded results. It said it was open to further dialogue, but stressed it merely wanted to explain itself.
In May, the Brothers of Charity announced it would allow doctors to perform euthanasia at its 15 psychiatric hospitals in Belgium, one of only two countries — along with the Netherlands — where doctors are legally allowed to kill people with mental health problems, at their request.
To qualify, people must be in a state of “unbearable suffering,” and euthanasia would only be performed if there were “no reasonable treatment alternatives,” the order said. Requests would be considered with “the greatest caution” and be evaluated by at least three doctors.