The Vatican is investigating the decision of a group of psychiatric care centres run by a Catholic religious order in Belgium to permit doctors to perform euthanasia of “non-terminal” mentally ill patients on its premises.

Brother René Stockman, superior general of the Brothers of Charity, told the Catholic News Service (CNS) that Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, is personally examining the situation.

Brother Stockman, who is also a psychiatric care specialist, complained directly to Rome after the Brothers of Charity Group, which runs 15 centres for psychiatric patients across Belgium, rejected a formal request from him to reverse the new policy.

Brother Stockman told CNS that he had informed the Belgian bishops’ conference of the situation.

“At the same time, I am in contact with the Vatican – the Congregation [for Institutes] of Consecrated Life [and Societies of Apostolic Life] and the Secretary of State who asked me for more information,” he said, adding that he hoped that both the Belgian bishops and the Vatican would give a “clear answer”.

Brother Stockman suggested that the new policy could prevent the Brothers from giving psychiatric care in Belgium. They look after about 12,000 patients.

​How to continue reading…

This article appears in the Catholic Herald magazine - to read it in full subscribe to our digital edition from just 30p a week

The Catholic Herald is your essential weekly guide to the Catholic world; latest news, incisive opinion, expert analysis and spiritual reflection