Why didn’t Vatican act sooner on euthanasia in Belgian Catholic hospitals?

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Aug 11, 2017

At the beginning of May, the Brothers of Charity announced that they would allow euthanasia at their psychiatric hospitals in Belgium. At the beginning of August the Vatican ordered them to reverse that policy.

Why did it take so long? Why were fifteen Catholic hospitals on record for three months as providers of physician-assisted suicide? (Four months, potentially, since the Vatican directive gave the Belgian institutions a month to change their policies.)

We’re all in favor of due process, but in this case the facts were not in dispute. The Vatican investigated the situation, we are told; but what was there to investigate? The Brothers of Charity had made a public announcement of their policy. Why couldn’t the Vatican have issued an order to end the practice immediately, and then looked into the details? For that matter, where were the Belgian bishops, without whose permission the religious order could not work in that country?

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: - Aug. 17, 2017 3:59 PM ET USA

    I wonder what took them so long to act!! Protection of the "right to life"is far more important than criticizing Catholics for getting along with evangelical protestants.

  • Posted by: mark.f.santschi7460 - Aug. 16, 2017 6:22 PM ET USA

    I'm amazed you find the dark cloud behind every silver lining.

  • Posted by: Gramps - Aug. 12, 2017 1:29 PM ET USA

    The Vatican was evidently too busy looking for "fundamental evangelicals" among the Catholics in the USA. First things first!