Pope Francis condemned the Portuguese Parliament on Saturday for voting to legalize killing people in assisted suicide and euthanasia.
The Catholic leader commented a day after the vote to override President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa’s veto of the euthanasia bill, according to the Catholic News Agency.
“Today when we celebrate the memory of the apparitions of the Virgin Mary to the little shepherds of Fatima, I am very sad because in the country where Our Lady appeared, a law to kill has been enacted,” he said during the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organization meeting at the Vatican.
“It is one more step in the long list of countries with euthanasia,” Pope Francis said.
Many European countries now allow doctors to prescribe lethal drugs to adults to commit assisted suicide or kill them in euthanasia.
In Portugal, the new legislation allows doctors to help people commit suicide if they are “in a situation of great intensity of suffering, with definitive injury of extreme gravity or serious and incurable disease.” Doctors also may euthanize patients if the person has a disability and cannot commit suicide themselves, according to the report.
The BBC reports members of the Socialist Party supported the legislation, while lawmakers with the moderate Social Democrats Party (PSD) opposed it.
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There still is a possibility that the law could be blocked. According to the BBC:
… the reform can be derailed in the meantime, or at least delayed, if one in 10 members of parliament formally ask the Constitutional Court to review the legislation.
Several PSD members of parliament have already declared their intention to do so.
The Catholic Church teaches that every human life from conception to natural death is valuable because he or she is created in God’s image, and killing innocent human beings, whether by euthanasia or assisted suicide, abortion or infanticide, is wrong.
However, many countries in Europe now allow assisted suicide and/or euthanasia. Canada and parts of the United States do as well. Proponents claim such laws provide freedom and compassion to people suffering serious and terminal illnesses; but opponents say suffering can be alleviated by other means than killing the person.
And proposed laws are becoming more and more radical. A disturbing new Japanese documentary suggests legalizing voluntary euthanasia for everyone over age 75 as a “solution” to the aging population and declining birth rates across Asia. There even is talk of legalizing the euthanasia of children in Canada and some European countries.
Catholic leaders, pro-life advocates and disability rights organizations oppose assisted suicide and euthanasia. Legalizing these killing practices undermines the value of human life and puts pressure on suffering people to die – often people who already are struggling to obtain good medical care and pain relief. Last month, four disability advocacy groups sued California, arguing its assisted suicide law discriminates against people who struggle with life-long ailments by treating their lives as less worthy of protection.