Archbishop Card. Martini passed away today at 85 . After leaving Milan, the largest archdiocese in Europe where he was archbishop during 23 years, he was living in retirement in his beloved Jerusalem.
He was one of the greatest biblic scholars and he was well known for his sermons and his profound writings. In opposition to the conservatives, he defended 'liberal' ideas on contraception, the beginning of human life and the role of women in the church.
But his fundamental battle was against social injustice. In particular, he expressed concerned and defended immigrants and social minorities against any form of discrimination. Martini said that the Church had to rekindle a "burning fire in the heart" of men and women today.
Cardinal Martini, then President of the Conference of the European Churches addressed the European Parliament in 1997 in a symposium on 'Remembering the Origins of the Process of Integration' with these words: ""Europe is faced with a decisive crossroads in its history. On the one hand it opens the way for closer political integration involving the European peoples and their institutions. On the other hand there may be a stagnation of unification or a reduction by only a few economic aspects and limited to a few countries"
He was a man of culture and dialogue who listened to people. This is the Church prophetically inspiring that we need today.
P.S: Card. Martini gave a last interview to a Jesuit priest, Georg Porschill - who interviewed him in "Nighjt conversations in Jerusalem" - and which was published by Corriere della Sera after his death. " the Church is tired, in the Europe of wealth and in America. Our culture has aged, our churches are big, our religious houses empty, the Church bureaucracy is growing and our rites and vestments are pompous" . He also said that the "Church was 200 years out of date and needed faith, trust and courage to move on".