Belgian Politician Defies Pope’s Euthanasia Ban Order

REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo (ITALY - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR4AFCE

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Joshua Gill Religion Reporter
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A former Belgian prime minister rejected Pope Francis’ authority to ban euthanasia in Belgian Catholic care centers.

Herman Van Rompuy, former PM and first President of the European Council, tweeted Sunday that the days of Vatican authority in Belgium were over, according to Crux. Rompuy tweeted in response to Francis’ order that the Brothers of Charity cease euthanizing mentally ill patients in their care centers by the end of August. Rompuy sits on the board of trustees for the charity group, which has 15 psychiatric care centers in Belgium.

The tweet translates to “The time of ‘Roma locuta causa finita’ is long past.”  The Latin quote is a reference to St. Augustine, and means “Rome has spoken; the cause is finished,” with Rome as a representation of the Pope.

The Belgian branch of the Brothers of Charity announced in May that doctors in their psychiatric care facilities were free to offer and perform euthanasia on mentally ill patients that requested it because of “unbearable suffering” and no hope of treatment. Belgium’s legal definitions of “unbearable suffering” are vague, however, and leave the door open for euthanasia to be performed on people that have treatment options available.

Brother Renee Stockman, superior general of the order that runs the charity, openly condemned the charity branch’s decision as irresponsible and contrary to the church’s belief in the sanctity of life. Stockman demanded that the group reverse their policy, and Francis personally approved the demand.

The group must reverse its euthanasia policy by the end of August. The brothers who serve on the board of the charity were also ordered to sign a letter affirming their agreement to uphold the Catholic Church’s position against euthanasia. Those that do not sign the letter will be subject to personal sanctions. The charity group will be expelled from the Church if they do not comply with the order to reverse their policy.

Regarding Rompuy’s tweet, Stockman told Crux that he had “no idea what was his intention in putting that on Twitter.”

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