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The Pope Attacked on Twitter About Euthanasia

August 26, 2017
Herman Van Rompuy.

A former president of the European Council broke his silence and sparked a controversy by publicly distancing himself from Pope Francis’ recent condemnation of euthanasia being practiced in the Belgian institutions run by the Brothers of Charity of Ghent.

Herman Van Rompuy is a former Prime Minister of Belgium who served as the first president of the European Council from 2010 to 2014. A Catholic and father of four, with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and a master’s degree in applied economics from the Catholic University of Louvain, he is presently a member of the Christian Democratic and Flemish Party. More importantly, he is a member of the organization that manages the health facilities run by the Congregation of the Brothers of Charity of Ghent.

Since March 2017, the board of directors of these facilities that welcome patients suffering from psychiatric disorders, has authorized active euthanasia for patients, and not only for terminally ill patients who ask for it, but also in cases of deep psychological distress, or when there exists no “reasonable alternative treatment”.

The Superior General condemned this decision, and received the support of the supreme authority. The Holy See Press Office confirmed on August 10, 2017, that Pope Francis, after consulting with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, asked the Belgian community of the Brothers of Charity of Ghent to stop practicing euthanasia on their patients.

The board of directors has one month to comply with this request, under pain of canonical sanctions. For now, the religious and laymen in question have decided to take the time to think about it.

Herman Van Rompuy does not seem thrilled with the clarifications from the Vatican and Brother René Stockman, the Superior General. The former Belgian Prime Minister was unable to resist commenting on social media on August 13 in a laconic tweet: “The time of ‘Roma locuta causa finita’ [Rome has spoken, the cause is finished] is long past”.

When questioned by Crux, the Superior General of the Brothers of Charity refused to comment on this tweet from Mr. Van Rompuy, saying he had “no idea what was his intention in putting that on Twitter”. On August 17, in an interview with the Italian Catholic newspaper Avvenire, Brother Stockman seemed confident of the outcome of the September 11 meeting. He explained the four points being demanded: “First of all, respect for life is an absolute value. Secondly, one cannot present euthanasia as a ‘solution’ for a patient with no hope of improvement. Thirdly, euthanasia cannot be considered as a medical act. Fourth and last point, euthanasia cannot be practiced in hospitals that claim to be a part of our religious congregation. I spoke of this with the Vatican Secretary of State as well, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and he confirmed that on this point there can be no compromise.”

The community of the Brothers of Charity has not yet responded to the ultimatum from the Vatican, but Herman Van Rompuy’s message seems to justify a certain resistance on the part of the religious, as if obedience in this matter is not a given. As if Caesar’s law could be preferred to God’s...

In any case, Catholic doctrine does not evolve with the convulsions of social media: euthanasia, just like assisted suicide, is murder because the act directly provokes death. It is a grave offense against God, the Creator and Master of life, and a sin against the fifth commandment: “Thou shalt not kill.”