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Bishop Derio Olivero, August 2021.Chiesa Evangelica Valdese/Screnshto

PINEROLO, Italy (LifeSiteNews) – An Italian bishop known for his dissident stance on liturgy and doctrine has expressed his support for euthanasia, suggesting that the “sacredness” of life depends on the “quality of life.”

Pinerolo’s Bishop Derio Olivero, who currently leads the Italian Bishops Conference’s Commission for Ecumenism and Dialogue, made the comments in a recent interview with Italian newspaper La Stampa.

Olivero opened saying that the Catholic Church views death through assisted suicide as “a great defeat.” 

But he hinted at a possible change in ecclesiastical thought, noting that “a certain thought is spreading: that death in certain cases can be a victory.”

When asked explicitly if he was against a law for assisted suicide, Olivero replied in the negative: “Not so.” 

Echoing the theme of “accompaniment”  so prevalent in Pope Francis’ pontificate, Olivero mentioned that “secular, Catholic, and other faiths coexist,” by which he meant that he is “convinced that we need to discuss how to arrive at legislation, each one making his own contribution, leaving aside ideologies.”

Olivero, appointed bishop of Pinerolo by Pope Francis in 2017, rejected the suggestion that the Church was behind the times. “We are not out of touch with the world. I believe we are very serious about certain issues.”

‘Leave the sacristies and learn from others’

Notwithstanding this defence of unidentified points of Catholic doctrine which are often described as “out of touch,” Olivero called for a step change in the functioning of the Church. “At the same time, it is true that we must behave more like Pope Francis indicates: leave the sacristies and learn from others, from history that has changed,” he said.

Olivero demonstrated this spirit by appearing to contradict Church teaching regarding the sacrality of human life.

“It is exaggerated to insist only on sacredness as an absolute term without combining quality of life and conscience,” he declared. “Each of these concepts taken alone becomes ideological exasperation.”

The 61-year-old bishop called for “dialogue” in the “Italian community” based upon this concept of the sacrality of life being linked to the quality of life. “It is not easy to hold them together, but it is on these elements that dialogue should be played in the Italian community,” he declared. “Trying to do so would give us a way to arrive at more shared regulations.”

While shying away from committing to a call for euthanasia, Olivero instead suggested a “process of reflection in order to arrive at well-considered decisions” on the topic.

Catholic teaching on euthanasia

The Vatican’s 1980 “Declaration on Euthanasia,” firmly rejects Olivero’s concept of the quality of life denoting the sacredness of life. 

“Most people regard life as something sacred and hold that no one may dispose of it at will, but believers see in life something greater, namely, a gift of God’s love, which they are called upon to preserve and make fruitful,” the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) wrote.

Indeed, the CDF ruled that euthanasia by its nature constituted an offence against the dignity of the human person, firmly ruling out any possibility of condoning euthanasia. 

“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.”

The Catholic Church teaches clearly that “the inviolability of the innocent human being’s right to life ‘from the moment of conception until death’ is a sign and requirement of the very inviolability of the person to whom the Creator has given the gift of life.”

Additionally, the Catechism rejects the permissibility of suicide, stipulating that “Everyone is responsible for his life before God who has given it to him. It is God who remains the sovereign Master of life. We are obliged to accept life gratefully and preserve it for his honor and the salvation of our souls.We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of.”

Bishop Olivero’s history on Catholic doctrine

Olivero’s pro-euthanasia interview with La Stampa is by no mean the first headline he has made for his bending of the Church’s teaching on various matters.

In January 2020, before the onset of COVID restrictions, he replaced the public profession of the Creed, during Mass for the Solemnity of the Epiphany, with a moment of silence, in order not to offend “non-believers” present at Mass. Olivero said he didn’t want to offend the Orthodox, Waldensians, and unbelievers who were present in the congregation.

“Since there are also non-believers, everyone will say it in silence. Those who believe can say it and those who do not believe or are of other faiths will say in silence the reasons for their belief,” Diane Montagna reported him saying.

Some years before he was raised to lead the Commission for Ecumenism and Dialogue, Olivero took part in a local celebration of the Muslim festival of Ramadan, playing a public role in the proceedings and addressing the gathering of Muslim men. 

Some years prior, in a February 2018 interview about Pope Francis’s controversial document Amoris Laetitia, Bishop Olivero declared that while “marriage continues to be indissoluble” it was “not unbreakable.” “For those who have arrived at a new union there can be a path that also comes to be fully integrated,” Olivero continued, suggesting that a “blessing” could be given to people in this situation, which “would signify recognizing the validity of the relationship.”

Olivero, who was appointed a bishop by Pope Francis in July 2017, said that one of the “great novelties” of Amoris Laetitia is that “it is no longer possible to say that all those who find themselves in so-called irregular situations live in mortal sin because there are many questions to analyze.”

Such irregular situations have to be evaluated “case by case,” he said.

Pinerolo, which is in the Italian region of Piedmont, is only 33 miles away from Torino (Turin), the birthplace of Pope Francis’ father, Mario Bergoglio.