By Carol Glatz
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis criticized the passage of a law by Portugal’s parliament to legalize euthanasia in the country.
The controversial law was passed May 12 with a vote of 129 to 81.
The next day, during an audience at the Vatican with members of the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations, the pope noted May 13 was “the day when we commemorate the apparitions of the Virgin Mary to the shepherd children of Fatima” in Portugal.
“And today I am also very sad, because in the country where the Virgin appeared, a law is being passed to kill, a further addition to the long list of countries with euthanasia,” he said.
“Let us look to Mary as a model of the quintessential woman, who lives fully a gift and a task: the gift of maternity and the task of taking care of her children in the church,” he added.
It was the fifth time that Portugal’s parliament passed a bill to legalize euthanasia. However, with previous attempts, the bill faced strong opposition from Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, who either vetoed the bill or asked that it be reviewed by the country’s constitutional court, which struck them down.
The latest version also can be derailed or delayed if enough members of parliament formally ask the constitutional court to review the legislation.
The proposed law would allow for euthanasia in limited circumstances, covering people who are over 18 years old and terminally ill and whose suffering is “lasting” with “unbearable” pain. It would not include people who are deemed not to be mentally competent to make such a decision or people who are not citizens or legal residents.
Spain recently legalized euthanasia and the practice also is legal in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.
Other European countries, such as Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Finland and Norway, allow for what is known as “passive euthanasia,” in which patients, under strict circumstances, can elect to not receive treatments, such as nutrition or hydration, that would prolong their lives.