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Assisted suicide foes ask Manx parliament not to legalize ‘despair’

January 16, 2020 CNA Daily News 1

Douglas, Isle of Man, Jan 16, 2020 / 06:01 pm (CNA).- A proposal to survey lawmakers’ support to legalize assisted suicide on the Isle of Man drew criticism from disability groups and other foes of the practice, who say it promotes “despair” rather than support for the vulnerable.

 
“There is no safe system of assisted suicide and disabled people want help to live, not to die,” said the disabled persons’ advocacy group Not Dead Yet UK. The group asked residents of the Isle of Man to write their legislators to voice their concern and to call for opposition to the motion set for a Jan. 21 vote.
 
The group said it is “very concerned” by the proposed motion to determine whether the parliament, known as the Tynwald, is “of the opinion that legislation to allow for voluntary assisted dying should be introduced.”
 
The Isle of Man, a self-governing crown dependency located between England and Northern Ireland, has about 84,000 people.
 
Efforts to legalize assisted suicide have repeatedly failed to pass the legislature on the Isle of Man. The last vote, held in 2015, failed by 17-5. 
 
Proponents of legalizing assisted suicide phrase it in terms of “assisted dying” or “aid in dying.”
 
One proponent, a Member of the House of Keys, the lower house of the Manx parliament, has proposed a motion to introduce legislation to legalize the practice. Dr. Alex Allinson said that if the initial reception of his motion is favorable he would introduce a private member’s bill and carry out a “full, public consultation,” the Manx news site IOM Today reports.
 
While a private member’s bill would not have support from any political party, he claimed to have the support of several backbencher legislators.
 
Allinson took a similar route when he sponsored the Abortion Reform Bill 2018, which resulted in one of the most permissive abortion laws in the British isles.
 
While the disability advocates of Not Dead Yet UK denied assisted suicide is ever safe, Allinson cited changes in the Australian states of Victoria and Western Australia, which in his view allowed assisted suicide with “protections against coercion.”
 
“An assessment of capacity is key to most medical procedures and policies and will need to be built into the consent process but there are clear examples around the world where this has been managed successfully,” he said.
 
While there have been previous reports and committee inquiries into assisted suicide on the isle, Allinson said there had been “a change in public attitudes towards supporting assisted dying,” BBC News reports.
 
“Such a debate is just the start of a potentially lengthy journey to achieve a change in our law,” he said.
 
“We know that people with terminal illness are taking their own lives on our island rather than suffer untreatable pain and anguish,” said Allinson. “This debate is not about the right to die, rather the right for those whose death is imminent to take control of how and where they die and to be able to plan with their families and loved ones to leave them with dignity at a time of their choice.”
 
The U.K. coalition Care Not Killing noted that the motion in favor of assisted suicide is listed below a Tynwald agenda item to receive a committee report on suicide and to approve 13 recommendations for suicide prevention and for psychological support of people experiencing “moderate to severe emotional reactions to illnesses.”
 
“These should serve as reminders that no group should be excluded from efforts to prevent suicide, including those influenced by serious illness,” the coalition said Jan. 13. Any proposal to legalize assisted suicide, it warned, tries to separate “those suicides which should be discouraged, and those which should be brought to fruition.”
 
“Members of Tynwald Court should focus on suicide prevention for all, and access to high quality palliative and social care for all, rather than settling for assisted suicide’s counsel of despair,” said Care Not Killing.
 
The group warned that there is no evidence that assisted suicide has become safer or easier to regulate, nor is there evidence that the Isle of Man’s provision of end-of-life care is so great “that no one could be driven to seek their own death for fear of being a care burden or financial drain.”
 
Care Not Killing is a coalition which includes both individuals and organizations like disability and human rights advocacy groups, healthcare providers, and faith-based groups. It opposes the weakening or repeal of laws against euthanasia and assisted suicide while promoting better palliative care.
 
Backers of legal assisted suicide include the group Isle of Man Freethinkers, which holds it a matter of personal autonomy “to make decisions about their life and death,” the group chairwoman Vicky Christian said, according to the BBC.
 
The Manx Catholic presence includes six parishes with seven churches. It is a pastoral area under the Archdiocese of Liverpool.
 
In 2015 both Catholic and Anglican leaders in England and Wales welcomed the British Parliament’s defeat of legal assisted suicide by a vote of 330-118.
 
Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark, speaking on behalf of the Catholic bishops, said the U.K. parliament recognized “the grave risks that this bill posed to the lives of our society’s most vulnerable people.”
 
If the Manx parliamentary motion passes and results in legislation, and the legislation is passed in the House of Keys, the proposal would then head to the Legislative Council, the upper house of the legislature.
 
The Anglican bishop of Sodor and Man, Peter Eagles, is an ex officio member of this body. However, the bishop previously voted for the final version of Allinson’s abortion legislation, after voting against initial versions.
 
Some British professional groups have weakened their stance on assisted suicide. In 2019 the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Nursing changed its stance to neutrality on assisted suicide, when the groups had previously opposed it. The British Medical Association and the Royal College of GPs are carrying out surveys on the topic, IOM Today reports.

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Former priest on trial in France for sexual abuse of minors

January 15, 2020 CNA Daily News 0

Lyon, France, Jan 15, 2020 / 07:01 pm (CNA).- Bernard Preynat, a former priest of the Archdiocese of Lyon, is on trial before a civil court in France. He has been accused of sexually abusing dozens of minors between 1971 and 1991; he was found guilty by an ecclesiastical tribunal last year.

Allegations against Preynat, 74, became public in 2015. Prosecutors dropped the case the following year after an initial investigation, but a victims’ group with more than 80 members who say they were abused by Preynat led to a reopening of the case.

Preynat led a scouting camp until 1991, when parents accused him of abuse to the Lyon-Vienne archdiocese. He was then banned from leading scouting groups, but remained in ministry until being removed by Cardinal Philippe Barbarin of Lyon in 2015.

Cardinal Barbarin was convicted by a French civil court in March 2019 on charges of failing to report the allegations against Preynat.

An ecclesiastical trial against Preynat was opened in August 2018, and he was convicted in July 2019 of committing delicts of a sexual character against minors under the age of 16. He was sentenced to dismissal from the clerical state.

“In view of the facts and their recurrence, the large number of victims, the fact that Father Bernard Preynat abused the authority conferred on him by his position within the scout group that he had founded and which he led since its creation, assuming the dual responsibility of head and chaplain, the tribunal decided to apply the maximum penalty provided for by the law of the Church, namely dismissal from the clerical state,” the Lyon archdiocese stated July 4, 2019.

At his civil trial in Lyon Jan. 14, Preynat acknowledged “caressing” boys, saying, “it could be four or five children a week.”

“I have heard the suffering of these people, which I’m guilty of causing,” he said. “I hope that this trial can take place as quickly as possible.”

He is charged with sexual assault of 10 minors from 1986 to 1991, and faces up to 10 years in prison.

He has been accused of abusing some 80 boy scouts who were between 7 and 15, beginning in the 1970s, but many of the incidents have passed the statute of limitations.

Preynat’s trial was to have begun Jan. 13, but was delayed a day so lawyers could participate in a protest of planned pension reforms.

In 2017, Cardinal Barbarin told Le Monde that he did not conceal allegations against Preynat, but that his response to the allegations had been “inadequate.” He said he opened an investigation against Preynat after becoming aware of the allegations against him.

The cardinal was given a six-month suspended sentence when he was convicted of failure to report the allegations against Preynat, but has appealed. The result of his appeal should come later this month.

Cardinal Barbarin offered to resign as Archbishop of Lyon, but its acceptance is pending the outcome of his appeal; he has, however, stepped back from the governance of his see. Bishop Michel Dubost has been serving as apostolic administrator of Lyon since June 2019.

[…]

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Scotland’s Bishop Robson responds to allegation of plagiarism

January 15, 2020 CNA Daily News 0

Edinburgh, Scotland, Jan 15, 2020 / 02:15 pm (CNA).- A Scottish bishop accused of committing plagiarism in his doctoral dissertation told CNA that while he never intentionally committed any act of plagiarism, he will accept whatever consequences might come from the accusation.

“I can categorically state that there was absolutely never any intention to plagiarise any work,” Bishop Stephen Robson of Dunkeld, Scotland, told CNA January 14th.

The bishop’s remarks came in response to a 2019 article in the scholarly journal Analecta Cisterciensia, written by the journal’s editor, Fr. Alkuin Schachenmayr, a Cistercian priest living in an Austrian monastery.

The article claimed that “there seem to be dozens of passages in Robson’s dissertation which are apparently identical or remarkably similar to texts published by other scholars, yet the author does not attribute these sources.”

“My work was checked every stage by Father Herbert Alphonso SJ my supervisor, now deceased. I repeat, whatever the person you mention has claimed, there was never any intention to deceive or plagiarise. I was simply trying to understand St Bernard a bit better,” Robson said.

Robson completed his dissertation, “With the Spirit and Power of Elijah (Lk 1,17). The Prophetic-Reforming Spirituality of Bernard of Clairvaux as Evidenced Particularly in his Letters,” at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University in 2003.

The text was awarded the university’s 2004 Premio Bellarmino, the annual prize given to the best dissertation completed at the university.

“One must ask whether the jury responsible for awards of excellence at the Gregorian succeeded in identifying one of the institution’s best dissertations of 2003,” Schachenmayr wrote.

Robson’s dissertation was also published as a 2004 book by the Gregorian University’s publishing house.

And while Robson insisted that he had no intention to plagiarize, he told CNA that he will accept the judgment of his alma mater regarding his dissertation.

“I am happy for the Gregorian to nullify my text if they think fit,” the bishop said.
 
Schachenmayr’s study noted that Robbson’s dissertation contained several passages identical or nearly identical to already published scholarship. Those passages give no indication of their source material.

Among the scholars from whom Robson apparently copied are Bruno Scott James, Jean Leclercq, Friedrich Kempf, and Robert Bartlett, according to Schachenmayr.

Some of those scholars were mentioned as sources in his dissertation, even while particular verbatim passages from them were reproduced without citation. In other cases, identical or nearly identical passages from published scholars who were never referenced as sources at all were included in the dissertation, Schachenmayr showed.

Schachenmayr also suggested that Robson might have used a plagiaristic technique called the “pawn sacrifice,” in order to avoid detection of plagiarism.

“Citing some sources with apparently great vigilance can be used as a way of distracting the reader from the fact that other passages are not properly cited,” Schachenmayr explained.

Regarding the scholars from whom Schachenmayr reports he seems to have plagiarized, Robson told CNA: “I recognise some of the authors you have quoted and did quote from them.”

Still, he said, “the authors cited can only have been a minor part of what work I did as far as I can remember.”

Robson told CNA that he completed his studies- a doctorate in sacred theology as well as a licentiate in canon law- while he was serving as a spiritual director for seminarians at the Pontifical Scots College, where he was assigned from 1998 to 2006.

He studied during that time “to prevent myself going mad,” the bishop said.

“I have never claimed to be an academic and have not touched any study – I have not had time – since I came home,” he added.

“The studies were never really important to me – simply a means to spending what would have been otherwise an uncomfortable few years in the heat of Rome.”

“My directees were the much more important part of my work,” the bishop added.

Robson is a convert to Catholicism; he became a Catholic in his late teens. The bishop was ordained a priest in 1979, and worked in pastoral ministry, and as secretary to the eventually disgraced Cardinal Keith O’Brien, who resigned from the rights and duties of a cardinal in 2015 amid allegations of predatory sexual behavior toward priests and seminarians. 

Robson was assigned to the Scottish seminary in Rome in 1998.

He told CNA he “had no desire to become a bishop…and yet was appointed in 2012 as an auxiliary bishop and as an Ordinary since 2013.”

After two years as an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, Robson became Bishop of Dunkeld in January 2014.

The bishop served from 2013-2015 as a member of the McLellan Commission, which studied the Catholic Church in Scotland’s handling of clerical sexual abuse claims and the culture that allowed abuse to occur.

Priests who know Robson described him to CNA as a supporter of his priests, “a Catholic, and a believer.”

The bishop is regarded as an outspoken pro-life advocate and an advocate for Catholic education. In 2019, the bishop launched in his diocese a “Year of Re-Evangelisation” and a formation program for catechists.

That initiative, he said, was inspired by Pope Francis.

“His vision of missionary discipleship is something that really struck me but more than that his manner was so open, especially about making our parishes places of missionary disciples. All we can do now is try,” Robson told the Scottish Catholic Observer in January 2019.

At the bishop’s installation Mass in 2014, he told Catholics that “to build up communion in love means concentrated work, and that can be only done with time and many, many hands to help that.”

“Pastoral work, the work of a shepherd, involves being able to serve the people,” he said.

In addition to leaving a decision about his dissertation in the hands of the Gregorian University, Robson said he will accept any other consequences that might come from the allegation of plagiarism.

“I am sure Francis has far more worrying things to fret about than me. But if he wants my resignation, he may have it freely,” the bishop said.

[…]

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French bishops approve removing parents’ gender from baptismal forms

January 15, 2020 CNA Daily News 2

Paris, France, Jan 15, 2020 / 06:00 am (CNA).- The French Catholic bishops’ conference permanent council has approved a recommendation to remove references to the sex of parents on baptismal registry forms.

“The increasingly complex situation of families in France makes it extremely difficult to draft Catholic acts, especially regarding baptism,” Bishop Joseph de Metz-Noblat of Langres, president of the French bishops’ conference Council for Canonical Questions, wrote in a letter dated Dec. 13, 2018.

He said, because of complex family situations, chanceries in several dioceses in France had “faced problems of vocabulary.”

According to canon law, he said, “ministers cannot refuse sacraments to persons who opportunely ask for them, while children cannot be held responsible for the situation of their parents.”

As a result, de Metz-Noblat said he had worked with two other commissions to produce a new baptismal registry formula that will require “names and first names of parents or other holders of parental authority,” which he wrote would make “the simple acknowledgment of one’s family situation, without bearing moral judgment on it.” 

The change had now been approved by the bishops’ permanent council, de Metz-Noblat added.

Fr. Claude Barthe, editor of the newsletter Catholic Res Novae, wrote in late December that it is likely that a number of dioceses will ignore the new recommendation. Each bishop in France remains free to exercise control over the baptismal registry form in his diocese.

Fr. Pius Pietrzyk, O.P., chair of the pastoral studies department at St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park, California, told CNA that recommendations from a bishops’ conference are not binding law, and that while a bishop must consider recommendations from the conference as the view of his brother bishops, the recommendations are not binding.

“We sometimes think of a bishop’s conference as a kind of Senate that has legislative power— it does not,” Pietrzyk told CNA.

“It’s simply a pastoral engine for the bishops of a certain area to coordinate their pastoral ministry.”

The Holy See in 2017 addressed how the baptisms of children of same-sex couples should be recorded in a letter from Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, then the prefect of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.

“In the current Code, there is not a specific law with respect to the entry of same sex couples or ‘transgendered persons’ as parents on the baptismal record. The term ‘parents’ used by the Church’s Canon 877 clearly refers to the father and mother, the man and the woman created by God who are united in the sacrament of marriage.”

“The entry of same sex couples or ‘transgendered persons’  as parents would be contrary to the aforementioned canon and the teaching of Our Lord and of the Church on marriage as God desires it as the union between a man and a woman. If one of the partners is the natural father or mother of the child, it must be mentioned on the record, the other partner cannot be entered,” Coccopalmerio added.

“Given the foregoing instructions, we do not consider it possible to enter on the baptismal record two mothers or two fathers or a ‘transgendered father’ whose real nature is a woman or a ‘transgendered mother’ whose true nature is a man,” the letter concluded.

Marriage and child adoption for same-sex couples were legalized in France in May 2013.

Barthe wrote that Bishop de Metz-Noblat had been involved in the process of revising the Church’s baptismal documents since that year, and in Feb. 2019 had written a letter reassuring his fellow bishops that the changes ought to be made to avoid accusations of “discrimination.”

 

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UK Defense minister apologizes for chaplains ‘outing’ gay servicemen

January 14, 2020 CNA Daily News 0

London, England, Jan 14, 2020 / 04:00 pm (CNA).- U.K. Minister of Defense Johnny Mercer has issued an apology to lesbian, gay, and bisexual servicemembers who were reportedly outed by military chaplains. He issued the apology at an event recognizing the anniversary of the repeal of the United Kingdom’s ban on homosexual members of the military.

“Our policy regarding LGB members in the military was unacceptable then, and as a defense minister, I personally apologize for those experiences,” said Mercer at an event held Jan. 9 and again in a statement to CNA Jan. 14. 

“Pastoral encounters between service chaplains and personnel should be strictly confidential.”

LGBT campaigners have alleged that over a period of years Catholic military chaplains, as well as Church of England chaplains, regularly violated the seal of confession and informed military superiors of the identities of lesbian, gay, or bisexual members of the military. These servicemembers were then discharged as homosexuality was not permitted in the military until January 2000. 

LGBT activist Edmund Hall, a former Royal Navy sub-lieutenant, claims that he has spoken to over 100 self-identified lesbian, gay, and bisexual members of the military who were dismissed due to their sexuality. 

Hall told The Sunday Times Jan. 12 that while these former servicemembers “were dismissed in all sorts of circumstances,” confessing homosexual behavior to chaplains “was certainly one of those circumstances.”

Elaine Chambers, who co-founded a group advocating for the inclusion of homosexual men and women in the military, told The Sunday Times saying that it was “absolutely shocking” that priests “used to break the rules of the confessional.”

“[Our members] told somebody, thinking, ‘I am just getting it off my chest,’ and the next thing you know, that has led to the military police knocking on your door and that could only have come from the padres,” she said.

Breaking the sacramental seal of confession is a grave crime in the Catholic Church, and incurs a latae sententiae (automatic) excommunication. Priests are expected to keep the secrets of their penitents confidential, even if the penitent confesses to a serious crime or treason. 

Patrick Lyster-Todd, another “gay rights” activist, told The Sunday Times that a letter was allegedly sent by Cardinal Basil Hume, then Archbishop of Westminster and head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, to military chaplains in 1994. This letter allegedly emphasized that the seal of confession was sacrosanct and could not be violated.

Lyster-Todd claimed that once this letter was written, the outings stopped.

A secretary for the Catholic Bishopric of the Armed Forces for the U.K. told CNA Jan. 14 that it could not comment on that claim, because officials are checking archives in an attempt to locate any such letter, and then confirm what specifically was written, and to whom it was addressed.

“Knowledge of the information is for the priest, the penitent and God,” Bishop Paul Mason of the Armed Forces said to The Sunday Times.

“Information gained in the context of sacramental confession may not be used in any other forum.”

CNA contacted the Archdiocese of Westminster and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales for comment on the allegations of violation of the seal, and to confirm the alleged letter from Cardinal Hume, but has not yet received a response.

Hall stated that the Ministry of Defense instructed the chaplains to put military efficiency above their spiritual duties. 

“Would you expect a chaplain to withhold the fact that someone was giving away their location to a Russian submarine? At the time, the [Ministry of Defense’]s view was that homosexuality was in the same category–that it would damage the efficacy of the units,” he told The Times.

While Hall suggested that a priest would be obliged to report acts of espionage confessed to him, Church law admits no exception to the secrecy of the confessional.

In 2001, former FBI agent Robert Hanssen was arrested and pled guilty to 15 counts of espionage. Hanssen, a practicing Catholic, repeatedly confessed his crimes to a priest, who did not report what he did to the authorities. 

Conversations that occur outside of the context of a sacramental confession, even if they occur in the context of counseling or mentorship, do not fall under the seal of confession. If a servicemember went to a chaplain seeking advice and revealed, inadvertently or purposefully, a same-sex relationship, the chaplain would not be bound to keep that a secret as though it were made in confession. 

Despite focus on sacramental confession in the allegations of LGB activists, Hall’s comments to the press are actually ambiguous as to whether priests may, in fact, have violated the seal of confession. Some remarks from Hall suggest that the context of “confessions” may have been pastoral or other guidance, but not sacramental confession.

He said that chaplains were “welfare officers” who heard “issues of a highly personal nature” about a person’s marriage, family, and faith life, but did not offer specific allegations concerning violations of the sacramental seal.

“What was more damaging was not any particular case where it may or may not have happened,” said Hall. “It was the fact that the threat of it happening removes the key pastoral support option for people going through the toughest time of their life. Because you knew you couldn’t talk to a chaplain, so who the hell could you talk to?”

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World’s youngest Catholic bishop consecrated in Ukraine

January 14, 2020 CNA Daily News 1

Kyiv, Ukraine, Jan 14, 2020 / 03:01 pm (CNA).- The world’s youngest Catholic bishop was consecrated in Ukraine Sunday.

Bishop Stepan Sus, 38, was consecrated a bishop in Kyiv’s Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ Jan. 12.

The Synod of Bishops of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church canonically elected Sus to be a Curial Bishop of the Major Archeparchy of Kyiv-Halyč. Pope Francis confirmed his selection Nov. 15, 2019.

The bishop said he found out about his appointment two days after running a 10k in the Marines Marathon in Washington D.C. with wounded Ukrainian veterans.

“When our muscles were still sore, I found out that I had a new marathon in the life of the Church,” Sus said after his episcopal consecration, according to the Lviv Portal.

After his priestly ordination for the Ukrainian Archeparchy of Lviv in 2006, Sus served as a military chaplain. From 2012 to 2019, he was parish priest of the Garrison Church of Sts. Peter and Paul and served as an advisor to the Lviv archeparchy.

While young for a bishop, Sus is not unexposed to human suffering, having conducted at least 76 funerals for Ukrainians killed in the Donbas region since 2014 amid a war with pro-Russian separatists.

Sus said that when accepting his position, he thought of the martyrs in the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church “who became priests and bishops at a time when there were no solemn liturgies” and ended their lives exiled in labor camps. He said that he prayed for the martyrs’ intercession to make him worthy of the ministry of a bishop in the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church.

A native of Lviv, Sus studied at Ukrainian Catholic University and Holy Spirit Major Seminary in Lviv before earning a master’s degree in theology from the Catholic University of Lublin.

Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kyiv-Halyč was Sus’ principal consecrator.

“Last year, we commemorated the 30th anniversary of … the complete escape from the underground of our Church. Many of you were part of that remnant of Israel, the Ukrainian underground Church, which God preserved in the face of severe persecution. Because of that small bunch of people, because of that remnant, the whole Church has been resurrected,” Shevchuk said in his homily at the Mass.

“The ancient roots of the Church of Kyiv here, on the shores of the gray Dnieper, produce a new sprout. We have been killed and crucified many times, but our roots are alive,” he said.

Sus said he does not know what the future will bring, but has placed it in the hands of God, who has called him to this ministry.

“No matter how scary the word ‘curia’ might be, I know that with God all difficulties can be overcome,” the bishop said.

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Catholics excluded from unlawful euthanasia trial in Belgium

January 14, 2020 CNA Daily News 1

Ghent, Belgium, Jan 14, 2020 / 12:30 pm (CNA).- A Belgian lawyer has admitted to searching the social media profiles of potential jurors to weed out “devout Catholics” for a trial. The lawyer is representing a doctor who is accused of “unlawfully poisoning” an autistic woman via euthanasia. 

Lawyer Walter Van Steenbrugge, who is defense counsel for one of the three unnamed doctors on trial in Ghent, said that while he would not ban all Catholics from serving on the jury, he would be doing a poor job as a lawyer if he allowed a “devout” Catholic on the jury. 

Van Steenbrugge was quoted in Het Nieuwsblad, a Flemish newspaper, saying that lawyers “only get brief information about the jury members, and we have to deal with what we think about the candidates on social media.” 

In particular, Van Steenbrugge said, a potential juror with a devotion to Mary would be disqualifying from the case. 

“It goes without saying that I will exclude people who turn out to be ‘extremely Catholic,’ for example if they express a great Marian devotion,” he said. “We do not want a jury member who would appear to have ever written that euthanasia should be considered murder.”

On January 14, Van Steenbrugge said that this process was “logical” and that he would be a “bad lawyer” if he did not exclude these jurors. 

There have been approximately 60 people who have been summoned as potential jury members for the death of Tine Nys. Nys, an autistic woman, died by euthanasia in 2010. Her relatives say that her condition did not reach the standard required for euthanasia in Belgium, and that she sought to end her life due to a failed relationship. Belgian law requires that a person have “constant and unbearable suffering” that is “incurable.” 

Children are permitted to request euthanasia, as well as those with mental illnesses such as depression. Belgium’s euthanasia laws are among the most liberal in the world. 

Nys’ death is the first time doctors in Belgium have been charged with “unlawful poisoning ” after administering euthansaia. The doctors have not been named, but the BBC reported that they are the doctor who administered the drugs, her primary care physician, and a psychiatrist. 

Nys’ sisters said that she had a history of psychiatric problems as a child, but had not received treatment for 15 years. They said she had been diagnosed with autism just two months before her death, and had not been treated for the condition.

Additionally, they say the doctors who carried out the procedure were “amateurish,” and that one had requested that Nys’ father hold the needle in his daughter’s arm as he had forgotten to bring bandages. The doctor also requested that Nys’ parents listen through the stethoscope to confirm that she was no longer breathing. 

Other lawyers have supported Van Steenbrugge’s juror examinations, and said that it is common practice to search for a potential juror online and to look at their social media presence. 

Lawyer Kris Luyckx, who is not representing anyone in Nys’ case, told Het Nieuwsblad that he works with social media professionals “who gather as much information as possible through open sources, as soon as we have a list of candidates.” Luyckx said that the potential jurors are then color-coded depending on if they would be a good fit for the case.

“So I think it is not so strange that Mr. Van Steenbrugge would exclude very devout Catholics in this matter,” he said. 

Another lawyer disagreed, saying that he personally does not exclude large groups of people due to their religion or other factors. 

“I think that is a step too far,” said lawyer Walter Damen to Het Nieuwsblad. “How do you know for sure that Catholics or Christians are against euthanasia? And what about people who hold a different faith? In fact, even the greatest atheist can be against euthanasia,” said Damen. 

About six people per day die by euthanasia in Belgium. In October 2019, four-time Paralympic medalist wheelchair racer Marieke Vervoort made headlines after she requested and received euthanasia.

[…]