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Catholic Church '200 years behind,' Cardinal says before death
Italian cardinal Carlo Maria Martini's body was lying in state at the cathedral in Milan, Italy, on September 1, 2012.
September 1st, 2012
02:56 PM ET

Catholic Church '200 years behind,' Cardinal says before death

From Livia Borghese, for CNN

ROME (CNN) - In an interview published a day after his death, a prominent progressive Catholic cardinal left the best summary of his contribution to debates within the Church.

"The Church has remained 200 years behind the times. Why has it not been shaken up?" Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini said in an interview published in Saturday's Corriere dell Sera newspaper. "Are we scared? Fear instead of courage? However, faith is the fundamental to the church."

He died Friday at age 85, the Archdiocese of Milan announced.

Martini suffered from Parkinson's disease and died at his residence in Milan, where he had lived since 2008, when the disease forced him to leave Jerusalem, the archdiocese said.

A public viewing was scheduled for Saturday at Milan Cathedral and the funeral for Monday.

Pope Benedict XVI sent his condolences to the archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Angelo Scola, remembering his "beloved brother that served with generosity the Gospels and the Church."

The Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, called Martini "an expert and passionate in the Holy Scripture."

Martini was born in 1927 and entered the Society of Jesus at age 17.

Pope John Paul II appointed him archbishop of Milan in 1979 and proclaimed him cardinal in 1983. In 2002, at the retirement age of 75, Martini moved to Jerusalem to dedicate himself to Biblical studies, according to his official Vatican biography.

Martini was known for his progressive position on some of the Church's most controversial issues, including priestly celibacy, the use of condoms, euthanasia and homosexuality.

Even after his retirement, Martini raised "subtle though crucial objections" to the Church's opposition to all cases of assisted fertility, distribution of condoms to AIDS victims, and so-called right-to-die cases, Time magazine reported in 2007.

He "politely challenged" the pope's strong condemnation of an Italian government proposal to legalize civil unions for homosexual partners and voiced support for the ordination of women as deacons, Time reported.

Italy's ANSA news agency said Martini was considered one of the more liberal high-ranking representatives of the Catholic Church.

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano remembered Martini's "innovative paths in the inter-religious dialogue," as well as the "enlightening and concrete suggestions" he received from the prelate in each of their many encounters, especially on social themes like immigration.

Martini was one of the "papabili," or papal contenders, at the 2005 Conclave that elected the current pope.

- shirleyhenrycnn

Filed under: Catholic Church • Uncategorized • Vatican

soundoff (261 Responses)
  1. a man

    There are many, many things that have occurred in our world that defy all scientific explanations. It is very naive, in my opinion, to believe that our puny amount of scientific understanding can account for all phenomena and all causation. The mythical rendering and legendary accounts of Jesus that get referenced so much on here have all been rebutted over and over. Faith is a matter of personal choice, and this is the whole theme of the New Testament. We all have a choice. When you take a good look at the entirety of the world and then read the Bible, it becomes clear how a book written thousands of years ago is just as relevant today as it was then. I do believe in God, and Jesus. I believe He died for my sins. I believe He rose again. You would think that with such a contentious issue that has persisted over millenia that disproving these statements would be top priority for many. However, no one - not ONE - anywhere - at any time - has been able to provide any objective evidence to the contrary. And they won't. Because they can't.

    September 2, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • The Vatican is 200 years behind. You, ~10,000 years!

      You've proven that you are not a Ra sheep! 🙂

      September 2, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • a man

      Thank you. What do you believe?

      September 2, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • Athy

      Name one.

      September 3, 2012 at 3:59 am |
  2. IslandAtheist

    Try adding one more zero.

    September 2, 2012 at 10:36 am |
  3. CSX

    Controversial issues? Sin is not a controversy.

    The should have thrown the bum out.

    He did not even know what sin was.

    September 2, 2012 at 8:16 am |
    • sam stone

      csx: and you do?

      September 2, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
  4. CSX

    There in lies the whole problem. If the church "says" than the ignorant can argue.

    But if "Thus saith the Lord" that settles it.

    Again, glory to trash by CNN.

    September 2, 2012 at 8:13 am |
    • Nietodarwin

      Peter Higgs, the physicist who first deduced and proposed the existence of the theoretical field now known as the Higgs boson, does not believe in God. After Leon Lederman, another nonbelieving physicist, had jokingly referred to the mysterious boson as the “God particle,” Higgs was not happy: “I wish he hadn’t done it. I have to explain to people it was a joke. I’m an atheist.”

      September 2, 2012 at 10:27 am |
  5. Christianity is not healthy for children and other living things

    Christianity takes people away from actually working on real solutions to their problems.
    Prayer has been shown to have no discernible effect towards what was prayed for.
    Christianity prevents you from getting badly needed exercise.
    Christianity makes you fat.
    Christianity wears out your clothes prematurely.
    Christianity contributes to global warming through excess CO2 emissions.
    Christianity fucks up your knees and your neck and your back.
    Christianity can cause heart attacks, especially among the elderly.
    Christianity reveals how stupid you are to the world.
    Christianity exposes your backside to pervert priests.
    Christianity makes you think doilies are exciting.
    Christianity makes you secretively flatulent and embarrassed about it.
    Christianity makes your kids avoid spending time with you.
    Christianity gives you knobbly knees.
    Christianity makes you frothy like Rick Santorum. Just google him to find out.
    Christianity dulls your senses.
    Christianity makes you post really stupid shit.
    Christianity makes you hoard cats.
    Christianity makes you smell like shitty kitty litter and leads you on to harder drugs.
    Christianity wastes time.

    September 2, 2012 at 7:47 am |
    • Mei

      Christianity has done the majority of charity in this world–from building hospitals, to creating welfare (when the rich and noblemen would not help the poor), to creating homeless shelters and taking in orphans. Indeed, if it wasn't for Christianity I'm pretty sure the world would have already destroyed itself. You need to pray to know the Truth–then you will be enlightened.

      September 2, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • Nietodarwin

      Only took them 500 years to admit that they were wrong about Galileo

      September 2, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • SuZieCoyote

      No. The world would not have destroyed itself without the church. It might actually be a better place to live. It certainly would be a better place for women and children.

      September 2, 2012 at 11:32 am |
  6. doctore0

    Religion is the ape inside

    September 2, 2012 at 7:42 am |
    • Bartleby, toothpick user

      ook! ook!

      September 2, 2012 at 11:36 am |
  7. Reality

    Only for new members:

    Added details:

    The Apostles' Creed 2012: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    (prayer = a repeti-tive pet-ition)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
    Jerusalem.

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
    and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    Amen
    (references used are available upon request)

    September 2, 2012 at 7:24 am |
  8. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things.

    September 2, 2012 at 6:54 am |
    • Christianity is not healthy for children and other living things

      Christianity takes people away from actually working on real solutions to their problems.
      Prayer has been shown to have no discernible effect towards what was prayed for.
      Christianity makes you frothy like Rick Santorum. Just go to http://santorum.com to find out more.
      Christianity prevents you from getting badly needed exercise.
      Christianity makes you fat.
      Christianity wears out your clothes prematurely.
      Christianity contributes to global warming through excess CO2 emissions.
      Christianity fucks up your knees and your neck and your back.
      Christianity can cause heart attacks, especially among the elderly.
      Christianity reveals how stupid you are to the world.
      Christianity exposes your backside to pervert priests.
      Christianity makes you think doilies are exciting.
      Christianity makes you secretively flatulent and embarrassed about it.
      Christianity makes your kids avoid spending time with you.
      Christianity gives you knobbly knees.
      Christianity makes you frothy like Rick Santorum. Just google him to find out.
      Christianity dulls your senses.
      Christianity makes you post really stupid shit.
      Christianity makes you hoard cats.
      Christianity makes you smell like shitty kitty litter and leads you on to harder drugs.
      Christianity wastes time.

      September 2, 2012 at 7:46 am |
    • Roy

      NO life is change. Prayer and religion just steals credit for the good that happens and blames the bad on people.

      September 2, 2012 at 9:38 am |
  9. AvdBerg

    For a better understanding of the history of the Catholic Church and the spirit it serves (Luke 9:55) we invite you to read the articles ‘The Mystery Babylon’ and ‘Popes and the Princes of This World’ listed on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca

    All of the other pages and articles listed on our website explain how and by whom this whole world has been deceived as confirmed in Revelation 12:9.

    September 2, 2012 at 6:31 am |
  10. ScottCA

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQorzOS-F6w&w=640&h=360]

    September 2, 2012 at 4:12 am |
  11. JS

    The author is asking for a more civil politics from the right. I think he must have been asleep for
    the past several years. The sheer flood of rancor and hate from the left has been appalling. And
    he is busy chiding the right. Um, Mr. Prothero – Christians believe that Jesus was God, and the
    words of Jesus are the words of God. (I am agnostic.) So here are some words of God for you
    to ponder: "Thou hypocrite, first remove the log from your own eye, then you will see clearly to
    remove the speck from your neighbor's eye."

    In case Mr. Prothero has been asleep for a few years, here is a recap. Obama decided that
    the U.S. should switch to government healthcare. Pelosi and the democrats started writing
    the ACA, having private meetings with lobbyists and keeping its contents a secret from the
    public. Conservatives balked. Since when is turning the nation's healthcare into a giant
    government bureaucracy a good idea? Government is wasteful, slow to adopt to change, and
    people have no recourse when it messes up. What a terrible idea! We should have had a
    national debate on how the nation could have the best heathcare, with the highest availability,
    at the lowest cost. Liberals would have to defend the position that a new gargantuan government
    bureaucracy was the best way to achieve this goal. They knew they could never win that
    argument. Liberals are in love with government control of everything, but any reasonable
    person can easily see that a government bureaucracy would result it higher costs, longer
    wait times, rationing, and causing more deaths and suffering. The correct solution is of course
    a free market system but with adequate government regulation to keep the profit minded
    companies in check. The free market system has been shown repeatedly to best match
    producers and consumers, adopt new technology quickest, and result in more options and
    lower costs. Of course the government would also need to tax and provide money so the
    poor etc. would be able to get good care.

    September 2, 2012 at 4:00 am |
    • JS

      Mispost – please ignore.

      September 2, 2012 at 4:44 am |
  12. ScottCA

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0uMJYQ9LKGQ&w=640&h=360]

    September 2, 2012 at 3:58 am |
  13. ScottCA

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CccaGaKOlSI&w=640&h=360]

    September 2, 2012 at 3:10 am |
  14. Jesus Changed My Oil

    And trimmed my hedges.

    September 2, 2012 at 2:31 am |
    • ScottCA

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vM5n8jESUEk&w=640&h=360]

      September 2, 2012 at 3:04 am |
  15. atroy

    I'm a non-believer but I have to say that I am grateful for the Catholic Church. Without it we would have missed out on so many great horror stories and movies.

    September 2, 2012 at 2:30 am |
    • Nietodarwin

      Abuse of children is a horror story. Forcing delusions of creationism on children is child abuse.

      September 2, 2012 at 10:17 am |
  16. Phil the Love

    Only 200 years?

    C'mon man don't sell your religion short. They invented BULLSH!T.

    September 2, 2012 at 2:20 am |
    • GODSPAWN

      You will phil God's boot up your colon.

      September 2, 2012 at 2:33 am |
  17. lee

    Their faith is useless if they accept faith that does not belong to religion book , then what will be the difference between religious and atheist

    September 2, 2012 at 2:10 am |
    • Nietodarwin

      Atheists by definition have no "faith" We believe in science and REASON. We don't believe in a devil anymore than we believe in a "god" Don't just talk out of your #@$%%# when you don't know anything about it.

      September 2, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • sqeptiq

      Refusing to believe in that for which there is no evidence is the opposite of faith. Claiming atheism is faith is like claiming black is white or up is down.

      September 2, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  18. Bun

    I remember hearing about how this cardinal, while in the running for the papacy at the last conclave, that he would never "win" because he was on the crap list of all the conservative cardinals. Of all the wackos in Rome, I do think that Martini was the voice of reason..... the only voice of reason coming from inside "the family". Of course he is dead, so now there is literally no hope. Typical and sad, you know, the usual from the RCC. I'd do a double check to make sure Benedict had no hand in this liberal's death. Just saying........

    September 2, 2012 at 2:04 am |
  19. Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

    I see they couldn't get the pole out of his as's. They bent it up, and curled it.

    September 2, 2012 at 12:38 am |
  20. Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

    Note the shoes. Fluffy pinched the ruby slippers, and left those those ugly ones.

    September 2, 2012 at 12:36 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.