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Vatican spokesman pays tribute to Cardinal Martini

September 03, 2012

The director of the Holy See Press Office has devoted his weekly editorial to Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, who died on August 31 at the age of 85.

“Cardinal Martini’s formation and personality were those of a Jesuit scholar of Sacred Scripture,” said Father Federico Lombardi, a fellow Jesuit. “The Word of God was the starting point and the foundation of his approach to every aspect of reality and all of his contributions. The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola were the matrix of his spirituality and spiritual pedagogy, of the continued engagement, at once direct and concrete, between the reading of the Word of God and life, of spiritual discernment and determinations in the light of the Gospel.”

Father Lombardi added:

It was the courageous intuition of Pope John Paul II to put the spiritual and cultural wealth of the man who had been until then a scholar—the rector first of the Biblicum and then of the Gregorian University—in the service of the pastoral care of one of the largest dioceses in the world. He had a distinctive style of governing.

In his last little book—Il Vescovo (“The Bishop”)—Martini wrote: “Do not think the bishop is able to effectively guide the people entrusted to him with a multitude of regulations and decrees, with prohibitions and negative judgments. Focus instead on interior formation, on a taste for and fascination with Sacred Scripture; show the positive reasons for our actions, inspired by the Gospel. One will gain so much more than one would by a rigid observance of rules and regulations.”

It is a precious heritage, to reflect upon seriously when we seek the paths of the “new evangelization.”

Ordained a priest of the Society of Jesus in 1952, Cardinal Martini served as Archbishop of Milan from 1980 until 2002 and was created cardinal in 1983. His funeral Mass is being held on September 3 in Milan.


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