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. Jewel of Allah

    May Allah bless his soul. Had he been Muslim, he would have been given a better place in heaven.


    September 1, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
    • ScottCA

      Since heaven exists only in your imagination, and has no evidence to support its existence in reality, it is very hard for any person to end up there in any position.

      September 1, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
  2. Nope!

    Hey nope, glad to see ya here, bud!

    September 1, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
  3. Rational Libertarian

    200 years ago the Enlightenment was in full flow. It's more like 700 years behind.

    September 1, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
  4. ScottCA


    September 1, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
    • toad

      She is so incredibly hot. Why would anyone care what she has to say?

      September 1, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      hmm her brain is so hot

      September 1, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
  5. Sam Yaza


    September 1, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV



      September 1, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      ... Amongst our weaponry are such diverse elements as: fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency and a fanatical devotion to the pope.

      September 1, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      seriously 2000 years ago was the 1800 which was a particularity ruthless time for the Spanish inquisition in fact it was so ruthless that in 1808 they decided to just stop the whole thing

      September 1, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Thank you Sam – it's been such all long time since I saw Torquemada 'send in the Nuns'.

      September 1, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
  6. ScottCA

    Faith based religion offers nothing. Faith means to believe in something for no reason. It cannot tell us how we should or ought to behave, to do so requires reason and logic.

    September 1, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
  7. ScottCA

    Faith based religion indoctrination is a form of abuse.

    September 1, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
  8. Colin

    How anybody can be a Catholic in the 21st Century eludes me. The superst.itious nonsense one has to believe seems to be so ridiculous that only the simplest or most wilfully blind of people could swallow it.

    September 1, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • ScottCA

      The indoctrination by religion from childhood is a powerful mental illness. It can destroy the minds of even otherwise well educated men. It takes an exceptionally use of logic and reason to free oneself from that abuse and the fear it instills.

      Faith based religion abuses children terribly.

      September 1, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • toad

      Hey! There are MORMONS. Keep your eye on the ball, Colin.

      September 1, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
  9. ScottCA


    September 1, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  10. PrayerFull

    So the Roman church chose Ratzinger over this fellow. They are sliding backwards. Passing over the men that could help them at least get an inkling of what their people might actually want or need from the Church.

    September 1, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  11. therealpeace2all

    Reblogged this on peace2alldotme.

    September 1, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  12. therealpeace2all

    Of course he's dead now... the Pope and his cronies couldn't handle someone speaking out in such a "progressive" way against the ridiculous church positions, so they had him 'whacked.'

    Yeah, I know... mixing a bit of the 'the sopranos' with 'the da vinci code' LOL 😀


    September 1, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  13. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    September 1, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • kindless

      Actually that's not true at all as it turns out! What is true is this:

      Agnostic Atheism is Healthy for Kids and Grown-Ups Too!

      It's really best for all people including children to have an agnostic approach to god, and an atheistic approach to all religion. It keeps things simple for kids, and let's them be all that they can be. They just need to be taught that some things, like all religion, are just made up by salesmen and politicians from long ago; and that other things, like god, we really don't know a damn thing about.

      Atheists have strong minds, and don't run and hide their misdeeds within their religion (and by doing so, disserving society).

      So instead of praying to make-believe people, get a good cup of tea and go on and sit down and collect your damn thoughts. My goodness.

      mama kindless

      September 1, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • HeavenSense

      Hi Prayerbot.

      September 2, 2012 at 12:31 am |
  14. ScottCA

    The reason they are so backward is their beliefs are based in faith. Faith means to believe in something for no good reason.
    There is no means of progressing when the base that you build upon does not contain reason or logic, but only insanity.

    September 1, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • sam stone

      i don't think it is faith as much as it tradition

      September 1, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • sam stone

      "....as it is tradition." was how that sentence was supposed to read

      September 1, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • .


      September 1, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • nope


      September 1, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  15. Reality

    Added details:

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

    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

    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.

    (references used are available upon request)

    September 1, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • .


      September 1, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • ....


      September 1, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • ....


      September 1, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
    • Reality

      prayer = a repeti-tive pet-ition

      September 1, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
  16. Rick James

    It's more like the human race is held back 200 years because of the Catholic Church and religion in general.

    September 1, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
  17. more like 3,500 years

    true story

    September 1, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  18. mama kindless

    I'm glad he said that, but it sounds like if they progressed as much as I'm reading he would have wanted them to progress, it would require undoing a lot of weird tenets that go back to the roots of that kooky religion – much more than 200 years.

    September 1, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • nope

      @more bull crap mama

      September 1, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • sam stone

      mama kindless tells the truth and nope can't deal with it.


      September 1, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • nope

      @ sam
      nope and

      September 1, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • snopes is just saying

      nope to nope

      September 1, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
  19. haha pwnt

    lol he pwnt them

    September 1, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  20. Jduff

    haha take that catholics

    September 1, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
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