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Cardinal, biblical scholar and former archbishop of Milan dies
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Italian Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, a renowned biblical scholar and former archbishop of Milan, died Aug. 31 after a long battle with Parkinson's disease.
Catholic News Service photo
Italian Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, a renowned biblical scholar and former archbishop of Milan, died Aug. 31 after a long battle with Parkinson's disease.

VATICAN CITY — Italian Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, a biblical scholar and former archbishop of Milan, is dead at the age of 85.

Pope Benedict praised Cardinal Martini's generous service to the Gospel and the church and his "intense apostolic work" as a Jesuit, a professor and "authoritative biblicist."

The cardinal, a prolific,  best-selling author, drew attention weeks before his death in an interview with Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, in which he said: "The Church is tired... our prayer rooms are empty."

The papal candidate favored by Vatican progressives, also said the Church is “200 years out of date," saying the church is a bureaucratic institution failing to keep up with the times.

“Our culture has aged, our churches are big and empty and the church bureaucracy rises up; our rituals and our cassocks are pompous,” he said.

“The church must admit its mistakes and begin a radical change, starting from the pope and the bishops,” he said in the interview. “The pedophilia scandals oblige us to take a journey of transformation.”

As archbishop of Milan, he expressed openness to the possibility of allowing married Latin-rite priests under certain circumstances, ordaining women as deacons and allowing Communion for some divorced Catholics in subsequent marriages not approved by the church.

During a special Synod of Bishops for Europe in 1999, he proposed a new churchwide council or assembly to unravel "doctrinal and disciplinary knots" such as the shortage of priests, the role of women, the role of laity and the discipline of marriage. He believed the church would benefit from a wider exercise of collegiality, or the shared responsibility of bishops for the governance of the church.

Following his retirement, his interests focused on biblical studies, Catholic-Jewish dialogue and praying for peace in the Middle East.

Compiled from news services



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