“Many people ask me, several times a week… if I ever contemplate (assisted suicide). It makes one feel like I should be contemplating it for the sake of the health service, for my family watching what I’m going through. I’m afraid that it will extend into the social conscience that people will almost expect assisted dying…. a (new) law will pressurise people.”
Category : Belgium
On 20 April 2012, Tom Mortier, a chemistry lecturer, got a message to call a Brussels hospital. His mother was dead. Godelieva De Troyer was 64 and had been suffering from depression. She had sent her son an email three months before she died telling him she had asked for euthanasia, but he did not think doctors would allow it.
He is enraged. He does not accept the argument that his mother had a “right to die”.
“From my perspective this is not a law for patients, it’s a law for doctors so they won’t be prosecuted,” Mortier says. “Performing euthanasia is unethical. It’s killing your patients, and now they’re promoting it as the ultimate form of love. What have we become here in Belgium? I don’t understand it”¦”
Among the people of Geel, the term ”˜mentally ill’ is never heard: even words such as ”˜psychiatric’ and ”˜patient’ are carefully hedged with finger-waggling and scare quotes. The family care system, as it’s known, is resolutely non-medical. When boarders meet their new families, they do so, as they always have, without a backstory or clinical diagnosis. If a word is needed to describe them, it’s often a positive one such as ”˜special’, or at worst, ”˜different’. This might in fact be more accurate than ”˜mentally ill’, since the boarders have always included some who would today be diagnosed with learning difficulties or special needs. But the most common collective term is simply ”˜boarders’, which defines them at the most pragmatic level by their social, not mental, condition. These are people who, whatever their diagnosis, have come here because they’re unable to cope on their own, and because they have no family or friends who can look after them.
The origins of the Geel story lie in the 13th century, in the martyrdom of Saint Dymphna, a legendary seventh-century Irish princess whose pagan father went mad with grief after the death of his Christian wife and demanded that Dymphna marry him. To escape the king’s incestuous passion, Dymphna fled to Europe and holed up in the marshy flatlands of Flanders. Her father finally tracked her down in Geel, and when she refused him once more, he beheaded her. Over time, she became revered as a saint with powers of intercession for the mentally afflicted, and her shrine attracted pilgrims and tales of miraculous cures.
The 18-year-old Belgian-born player was on the fringes of the first-team squad last term but an impressive pre-season led new United boss David Moyes to consider him as a starter.
He scored twice in his first start at Sunderland in October but since then has largely had to bide his time until Saturday’s well-taken 36th minute goal after evading the offside trap.
“Adnan Januzaj is doing really well. We are always hard on him, we always want more but he is doing remarkably well. He can score goals, he is a real talent,” Moyes told the BBC.
Belgium’s Catholic bishops have criticised a parliamentary vote paving the way for sick children and dementia patients to choose euthanasia.
“The voices of religious leaders have plainly not been listened to,” said Jesuit Father Tommy Scholtes, bishops’ conference spokesman.
“While everyone wants a gentle death, public opinion appears unaware that euthanasia is a technical act that ends life abruptly. This is why we reject it and believe palliative care offers a better solution,” he told the Catholic News Service.
Hundreds of Europeans are fighting with rebel forces in Syria and intelligence agencies are concerned some could return home to launch terrorist attacks. One Belgian family says their son has joined rebels fighting Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
A camera shakily films a group of rebel fighters preparing to pray, lined up in rows, their weapons at their feet. A young man walks into shot and takes off his rifle before briefly turning towards the camera.
“That’s Brian,” says Ingrid de Mulder, pointing at her nephew in the online video on her computer. “I’m 100% sure. That’s him. No doubt.”
Veronica Scarisbrick continues in her series focusing on some of those to have taken part in the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council fifty years on since that first session back on the 11th October 1962.
A Council which in terms of numbers and representation worldwide was the largest and most ecumenical council in the history of the church.
As Jesuit, Professor Norman Tanner writes in his Short History of “The Councils of the Church”: ” The equilibrium, however, was less balanced than the worldwide representation suggests. The principal initiative in rejecting the draft decrees of the preparatory commmission and in composing the decrees that were eventually approved came from a relatively small group of prelates and theologians mostly from northwestern Europe”..
Among those we, here at Vatican Radio, interviewed from this group was the late Belgian Cardinal Leo Joseph Suenens….
Herewith the BBC summary:
In 1943, a group of Belgian Jews escaped from a train bound for the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz.
In the only incident of its kind, they were helped by members of the Belgian resistance.
Witness speaks to Simon Gronowski, who at the age of 11, jumped from the train to safety.
Listen to it all (10 minutes). I caught this by accident yesterday in the car driving to a meeting, and it left me shaking in silence. Do take the time to give your attention to it–KSH.
We Jjouranlists are probably too bleary-eyed after a sleepless night to understand the full significance of what has just happened in Brussels. What is clear is that after a long, hard and rancorous negotiation, at about 5am this… [past Friday] the European Union split in a fundamental way.
In an effort to stabilise the euro zone, France, Germany and 21 other countries have decided to draft their own treaty to impose more central control over national budgets. Britain and three others have decided to stay out. In the coming weeks, Britain may find itself even more isolated. Sweden, the Czech Republic and Hungary want time to consult their parliaments and political parties before deciding on whether to join the new union-within-the-union.
So two decades to the day after the Maastricht Treaty was concluded, launching the process towards the single European currency, the EU’s tectonic plates have slipped momentously along same the fault line that has always divided it””the English Channel.
Between 01/2007-12/2009 in Leuven 17 isolated lung transplantations were performed from cardiac death donors, including four after euthanasia, Dirk van Raemdonck and colleagues (Leuven) report. “All donors expressed their wish for organ donation once their request for euthanasia was granted according to Belgian legislation. All donors suffered from an unbearable non-malignant disorder.” One recipient died from a problem unrelated to the graft. The other three patients are still alive ”“ in a good condition.
The intellectual community, and especially the Christian intellectual community, needs always to be engaged in the critique of triumphalism of any kind. That is why it is so significant a disaster when universities become mouthpieces for governments. The theologian may remember the shock felt by the twentieth century’s greatest Protestant theologian, Karl Barth, on reading the manifesto in support of German policy in the First World War signed by most of the leading German academics of the day. And ”“ given that the vocation and destiny of Europe is part of the focus of these celebrations ”“ there is here a clue about what the university, Christian or otherwise, has to say to our continent.
We have inherited a long record of European triumphalism; and while this may no longer be a political reality, its cultural echoes are still very clear ”“ not least in the bland assumption often made that European secularism is the destined future of the rest of the world. Universities like this have the responsibility to say to our culture that the light which enlightens the human world is not the product of European civilisation ”“ indeed, the opposite is more true, that European civilisation, with its high valuation of dialogue and critique and its suspicion of absolutism, is the product of the light that Symeon speaks of in the Nunc Dimittis. Our specific European legacy is precious, but precious as a gift among others. Freeze it into a self-image of finality and decisive authority for the rest of human culture, and it becomes an idol and a danger to the truth.
In response to questions by commission members, Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard of Mechelen-Brussels, president of the Belgian bishops’ conference, said he feared the consequences of compensating victims, because payments could also be demanded for “unhappy children born via artificial insemination” or facing the “psychological impact” of being raised by same-sex couples.
He also said he favored a “solidarity fund” for abuse victims when courts were unable to establish “direct responsibility” by institutions and said the church would contribute to the fund “in the same way that it already intervenes for victims of natural catastrophes or for the poor.”
Toon Osaer, editor of the church’s Kerk en Leven weekly and spokesman for Cardinal Godfried Danneels, Archbishop Leonard’s predecessor, said all nine serving bishops had been asked to testify to the commission, and “each has done in his own name. Archbishop Leonard wasn’t representing the Belgian church at that moment, only himself.”
However, he added that the “vast majority of people” had been “quite scandalized” by the archbishop’s manner of speaking, especially in response to questions at the Dec. 22 hearing.
Willy Delsaert is a retired railroad employee with dyslexia who practiced intensively before facing the suburban Don Bosco Catholic parish to perform the Sunday Mass rituals he grew up with.
“Who takes this bread and eats,” he murmured, cracking a communion wafer with his wife at his side, “declares a desire for a new world.”
With those words, Mr. Delsaert, 60, and his fellow parishioners are discreetly pioneering a grass-roots movement that defies centuries of Roman Catholic Church doctrine by worshiping and sharing communion without a priest.
Don Bosco is one of about a dozen alternative Catholic churches that have sprouted and grown in the last two years in Dutch-speaking regions of Belgium and the Netherlands. They are an uneasy reaction to a combination of forces: a shortage of priests, the closing of churches, dissatisfaction with Vatican appointments of conservative bishops and, most recently, dismay over cover-ups of sexual abuse by priests.
There were 32 worshipers at noontime Mass in a side chapel of the soaring Cathedral of SS. Michael and Gudula, which dates from the 11th century. A third of the faithful were African; there were two nuns and a police officer.
The priest, a stocky man with brushy white hair, murmured about a “time of difficulty” and spoke of Jesus and of the Pharisees, who kept the letter of God’s law without understanding his love. “The Pharisee doesn’t recognize the border between the pure and the impure,” the priest said.
His sermon before a thin crowd seemed an obvious demonstration of the anguish of the Roman Catholic Church in Belgium, staggered by a sexual-abuse scandal that has already affected 475 victims. There have been 19 suicide attempts, 13 of them successful, by Belgians abused by clergy members.
Faced with ever-more harrowing revelations of child sex abuse by Roman Catholic clergymen, Belgians are turning in record numbers to apostasy ”” formally breaking with their religion through a process of “de-baptism.”
“It has increased enormously since the cases of child abuse. It keeps going up,” said Bjorn Siffer, deputy director of Flemish Humanist-Secular Society. “We know from the bishops’ secretaries that they can’t cope with all the requests they are getting for de-baptism.”
Belgian authorities have raided the headquarters of the Belgian Catholic Church during an investigation into child sex abuse claims.
A spokesman for the Brussels prosecutors’ office confirmed that the palace of the archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels had been sealed off.
Police also raided the home of retired Archbishop Godfried Danneels.
Belgium is one of several countries in which a stream of abuse claims have shaken the Church.