Portugal’s Catholic bishops welcome presidential veto of euthanasia bill

Portugal’s President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, pictured Dec. 18, 2017. Portugal’s President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, pictured Dec. 18, 2017/ Drop of Light/Shutterstock.

Portugal’s Catholic bishops on Monday welcomed President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa’s decision to veto a bill legalizing euthanasia.

The president issued the veto on March 15 after Portugal’s Constitutional Court ruled that the bill was unconstitutional.

“Any legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide is always contrary to the affirmation of the dignity of the human person and to the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic,” said the bishops’ spokesman Fr. Manuel Barbosa.

On Jan. 29, MPs cast 136 votes in favor of the bill to 78 against, with four abstentions.

The legislation was then presented to Rebelo de Sousa, who was re-elected in a landslide vote on Jan. 24.

ACI Digital, CNA’s Portuguese-language news partner, reported that the president had already spoken out personally against the law.

Rebelo de Sousa had three options: giving the bill assent, sending it for review to the constitutional court, or employing his veto.

He chose the second, asking the country’s top court to assess whether the legislation was in harmony with Portugal’s constitution.

If Rebelo de Sousa had signed the bill into law, Portugal would have become the fourth country in Europe to legalize euthanasia, alongside the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg.

But Parliament can override a presidential veto by backing legislation for a second time.

Around 81% of Portugal’s 10 million population are baptized Catholics. Rebelo de Sousa met with Pope Francis on March 12, confirming afterward that the pope would visit the Portuguese capital, Lisbon for World Youth Day 2023, as well as traveling to the Marian shrine of Fatima.

In a note sent to the Ecclesia news agency, the Portuguese bishops’ conference reaffirmed the Church’s position on euthanasia and assisted suicide, “always defending that human life is inviolable.”

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