Pope Francis Laments New Euthanasia Law in Portugal on Feast of Our Lady of Fatima

Pope Francis at the Wednesday general audience on Dec. 28, 2022. | Credit: Vatican Media.

Pope Francis on Saturday expressed his sorrow over the legalization of euthanasia in Portugal.

“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,” the pope said May 13 at the Vatican.

“It is one more step in the long list of countries with euthanasia,” he added.

Portugal’s Parliament voted May 12 to allow medically-assisted suicide in limited cases. The legislation states that a person requesting assisted death should be “in a situation of great intensity of suffering, with definitive injury of extreme gravity or serious and incurable disease.”

A doctor can also euthanize a patient when “medically assisted suicide is impossible due to a physical disability of the patient.” Assisted suicide is the providing of lethal drugs so patients can take their own lives, while euthanasia is the direct killing of patients by doctors.


Portugal’s new law, which was passed by a strong majority on Friday, overturns earlier vetoes from Catholic President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.

Pope Francis made an impromptu comment on Portuguese legislation during a meeting in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall with participants in the general assembly of the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations.

On May 13, the Catholic Church celebrates the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, who appeared six times to three shepherd children in a field in Fatima, Portugal, in 1917. She brought with her requests for the recitation of the rosary, for sacrifices on behalf of sinners, and a secret regarding the fate of the world.

Pope Francis canonized two of the Fatima visionaries, Jacinta and Francisco Marto, in 2017. Sister Lucia dos Santos, the eldest child to witness the Fatima apparitions, is on the path to beatification. She died in 2005 at the age of 97.

The apparitions of the Virgin Mary at Fatima are some of the most well-known Marian apparitions in the world.

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Pope Francis visited the shrine at the site of the apparitions in 2017. He is expected to visit again during a trip to Lisbon, Portugal, at the beginning of August for World Youth Day 2023.

Hannah Brockhaus is Catholic News Agency's senior Rome correspondent. She grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, and has a degree in English from Truman State University in Missouri.