Did Pope Francis, acting on behalf of the World Economics Forum, publicly support euthanasia for "alcoholics, autistic and disabled people" to "help humanity" fight climate change? No, that's not true: The pontiff never said that. Following the Roman Catholic Church's long-established policy, he has condemned euthanasia more than once in his public speeches. Pope Francis does not work for the nonexistent "World Economics Forum." The story making the claim used an apparent allusion to a different not-for-profit entity, the World Economic Forum (WEF), trying to link two unrelated things, euthanasia and climate change, and thus recycle a narrative previously debunked by Lead Stories.
Pope Francis Says Alcoholics, Autistic and Disabled People Should Be Euthanized To 'Fight Climate Change.'
The article continued:
Pope Francis has thrown his weight behind the World Economics Forum's campaign to euthanize people with autism, alcoholism and other minor illnesses and disabilities to help humanity fight so-called 'climate change.'
Here is what it looked like at the time of the writing:
(Source: The People's Voice screenshot taken on Fri Jul 28 15:46:23 2023 UTC)
The claim is a variation of a previously debunked story, also published by The People's Voice, that incorrectly linked euthanasia to efforts to minimize the impact of climate change.
This article fails to mention where and when Pope Francis supposedly advocated for the euthanization of alcoholics, autistic and disabled individuals to combat climate change.
Contrary to The People's Voice claim, the 86-year-old pontiff is not involved in running the World Economic Forum, an international nongovernmental organization that is a frequent target of conspiracy theories promoted by The People's Voice, among other websites. The People's Voice also described him as an "agenda contributor" to the WEF.
The only two mentions of Pope Francis on the WEF website relate to his remarks for the organization's annual gatherings in Davos, Switzerland, in 2014 and 2018. Neither speech was delivered in person or mentioned euthanasia, as searches of the transcripts showed.
(Source: Weforum.org screenshot taken on Fri Jul 28 17:33:22 2023 UTC)
Here is the search for the word "euthanasia" in his 2018 speech:
(Source: Weforum.org screenshot taken on Fri Jul 28 17:28:30 2023 UTC)
And here is the search for the word "euthanasia" in his 2014 speech:
(Source: Weforum.org screenshot taken on Fri Jul 28 17:27:08 2023 UTC)
In reality, the Catholic Church has a long history of opposing euthanasia. A declaration on the matter, issued in May 1980, explicitly stated:
It is necessary to state firmly once more that nothing and no one can in any way permit the killing of an innocent human being, whether a fetus or an embryo, an infant or an adult, an old person, or one suffering from an incurable disease, or a person who is dying.
Furthermore, no one is permitted to ask for this act of killing, either for himself or herself or for another person entrusted to his or her care, nor can he or she consent to it, either explicitly or implicitly, nor can any authority legitimately recommend or permit such an action. For it is a question of the violation of the divine law, an offense against the dignity of the human person, a crime against life, and an attack on humanity. ... What a sick person needs, besides medical care, is love, the human and supernatural warmth with which the sick person can and ought to be surrounded by all those close to him or her, parents and children, doctors and nurses.
It is worth remembering that the pain of the patients, which it [the pro-euthanasia campaign] talks about and on which it seeks to base a justification or obligation for euthanasia and/or assisted suicide, today, more than ever before, is 'curable' with the proper analgesic and palliative treatment in proportion to the pain. If accompanied by the appropriate human and spiritual assistance, the pain can be alleviated and made tolerable in an atmosphere of psychological and affective support.
In 2002, the Catholic Church described the legalization of euthanasia for persons between 16 and 18 years old in the Netherlands as a "slippery slope."
In 2015, Pope Francis said during a meeting with Italian youth:
We elderly have ailments and problems, we make problems for others, perhaps people discard us because of our ailments, because we are no longer needed. There is also another habit -- pardon the phrase -- of letting them die. Because we love euphemisms, we use the technical term: euthanasia. Not just the euthanasia with a needle, but hidden kind of euthanasia, that is, withholding medicine, withholding care, making your life sad so you die, so it ends.
In 2019, the Holy See repeated once again that it still rejected both euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide:
Matters pertaining to the duration and meaning of human life should not be in the domain of health care providers whose responsibility is to provide the best possible cure for disease and maximal care of the sick.
We oppose any form of euthanasia - that is the direct, deliberate and intentional act of taking life - as well as physician assisted suicide - that is the direct, deliberate and intentional support of committing suicide - because they fundamentally contradict the inalienable value of human life, and therefore are inherently and consequentially morally and religiously wrong, and should be forbidden without exceptions.
In February 2023, Pope Francis personally condemned an Italian bill that would regulate assisted suicides, Reuters reported:
But we have to be careful to not confuse this help with unacceptable deviations that lead to killing ... We must accompany death, not provoke death or help any kind of suicide.
(Italy's Supreme Court later blocked an attempt to organize a nationwide referendum addressing the issue.)
In May 2023, the Vatican's position on the matter remained the same:
Because life is a Divine gift to be respected and preserved, we perforce reject the idea of human ownership of life and of the right of any human party to decide its value or extent. Thus we repudiate the concept of active euthanasia (so-called mercy killing) and physician-assisted suicide, as the illegitimate human arrogation of an exclusive Divine authority to determine the time of a person's death.
Had Pope Francis suddenly departed from the long-standing Catholic Church's view on euthanasia, that would receive a considerable amount of international media attention. A search across Google News limited to 2023 results only shows reports about him condemning another euthanasia law, this time in Portugal.
The People's Voice is one of the most prolific producers of false stories. It describes itself as a resource "comprised of various web pages operated by Fact Checked Limited," but has nothing to do with fact-checking.
As of this writing, its website contained a liability disclaimer that says:
FACT CHECKED LIMITED AND/OR ITS SUPPLIERS MAKE NO REPRESENTATIONS ABOUT THE SUITABILITY, RELIABILITY, AVAILABILITY, TIMELINESS, AND ACCURACY OF THE INFORMATION, SOFTWARE, PRODUCTS, SERVICES AND RELATED GRAPHICS CONTAINED ON THE SITE FOR ANY PURPOSE. TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT PERMITTED BY APPLICABLE LAW, ALL SUCH INFORMATION, SOFTWARE, PRODUCTS, SERVICES AND RELATED GRAPHICS ARE PROVIDED 'AS IS' WITHOUT WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF ANY KIND.
Other Lead Stories fact checks about euthanasia can be found here.