Aleteia logoAleteia logoAleteia
Sunday 14 July |
Saint of the Day: St. Kateri Tekakwitha
Aleteia logo
separateurCreated with Sketch.

Pope: In country where Virgin appeared, a law is being passed to kill

12/05/2017 : La pape François à Fatima, Portugal


Pope Francis prays at the sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima, May 12, 2017.

Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 05/14/23

I am very sad, says Pope, in lamenting progress of euthanasia legislation in Portugal.

“Today, the day when we commemorate the apparitions of the Virgin Mary to the shepherd children of Fatima – 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 – today, then, thinking of the Virgin, 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.”

Pope Francis on May 13, 2023, the day of the liturgical memorial of Our Lady of Fatima, spoke about the progress of a euthanasia law in Portugal. He was addressing participants in the general assembly of the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations, to be held in Assisi from May 14 to 20.

Pope Francis spoke about the vote in the Portuguese Parliament the day before, a few months before his planned visit to the country for World Youth Day, to be held in Lisbon from August 1 to 6.

During the WYD trip, the Argentine Pontiff could return to Fatima, a shrine he already visited in May 2017, on the occasion of the centenary of the apparitions, and which is being visited this weekend by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, his secretary of state.

This direct criticism from the Pope against the euthanasia law could influence the preparation of his second visit to this country long considered a Catholic bastion, but which has seen very rapid societal changes in recent years.

In 2010, the socialist government then in power in Portugal waited until after Benedict XVI’s visit to the country to implement the law on same-sex marriage, which was passed by Parliament in January of that year, three years before France.

While the issue of euthanasia has been at the center of the political agenda for several years in Portugal, President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has repeatedly vetoed its legalization.

However, limited by the constitution, last April he referred to Parliament the prerogative to approve Decree 43/XV on medically assisted death, which was approved on May 12.

This was the sixth time in five years that parliament has tried to pass the legislation. The first time the bill was discussed in Parliament, it was rejected; the second time, it was approved and then rejected by the Constitutional Court. The third and fourth times, under consecutive governments, it was approved, but the President vetoed it.

Now Portugal joins Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Canada and New Zealand among the nations that have legalized some form of euthanasia or assisted suicide. Some Australian and American states have also legalized it. It remains to be seen if the Portuguese law will make it into force.

Pope Francis has repeatedly expressed his outspoken opposition to assisted suicide and euthanasia, lamenting it as a consequence of the “throw-away culture” and an exclusion of the sick and elderly from the scope of life in society. He has noted that it’s really about money, and that when there is appropriate care, the desire for euthanasia evaporates.

The gift of woman

In his address to the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations (WUCWO), Pope Francis also recalled the importance of valuing women in social life.

Nowadays there is an urgent need to find peace in the world, a peace that begins, above all, within the heart, an ailing heart, lacerated by the division of hatred and rancour. In addition to peace, the anthropological identity of women is also in danger as they are used as tools, as the subject of political disputes and cultural ideologies that ignore the beauty with which they were created. There is a need for greater appreciation of their capacity for relationship and giving, and for men to better understand the richness of the reciprocity they receive from women, in order to recover those anthropological elements that characterise human identity and, with it, that of women and their role in the family and society, where they never cease to be a beating heart. And if we want to know what humanity is without woman, what man is without woman, we have it in the first page of the Bible: loneliness. Man without woman is alone. Humanity without woman is alone. A culture without women is lonely. Where there is no woman, there is loneliness, arid loneliness that breeds sadness and all manner of harm to humanity. Where there is no woman, there is loneliness.

Noting the liturgical memorial of Our Lady of Fatima, Francis urged us to look at Mary.

Mary teaches us to generate life and to protect it always, relating with others with tenderness and compassion, and combining three languages: that of the mind, that of the heart and that of the hands, which must be coordinated. […]

Returning to Fatima, in the midst of the silence and solitude of the fields, a good woman filled with light met the poor, simple children. As in all God’s great deeds, the scene is characterized by poverty and humility. We too – all humanity – are represented in those shepherd children, fragile and small, and we might even say a little bewildered and frightened in the face of events that occur in life and which at times we are unable to understand, because these events overtake us and throw us into crisis.

In this context, marked by weakness, one must wonder: what made Mary strong? What gave strength to the shepherd children to do what she asked of them? What is the secret that transformed those fragile and small people into authentic witnesses of the joy of the Gospel? Dear sisters, the secret of all discipleship and readiness for mission lies in cultivating this uniona union from within, with the “sweet host of the soul” that accompanies us always: the love of God and staying joined to him, like the branches of the vine (cf. Jn 15:1-11), to live – like Mary – the fullness of being women with the awareness of feeling chosen and agents in God’s salvific work.

But this alone is not enough. This inner union with Jesus must manifest itself externally, it must manifest itself in communion with the Church, with my family or my organization, which help me to mature in faith. […] We must “pray” deeds and put prayer “to work.”

EuthanasiaPope FrancisPortugal
Enjoying your time on Aleteia?

Articles like these are sponsored free for every Catholic through the support of generous readers just like you.

Help us continue to bring the Gospel to people everywhere through uplifting Catholic news, stories, spirituality, and more.

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.