Cardinal Martini Receives Papal Praise

Both Celebrating 80th Birthday This Year

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 22, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI recently praised Cardinal Carlo Martini, retired archbishop of Milan, who just celebrated his 80th birthday.



On Feb. 17, during a conversation with students of the Roman Major Seminary, the Pope offered as an example the perseverance and trust in God of Cardinal Martini, a renowned biblicist.

"I believe I'm not indiscreet if I say that today I have received a beautiful letter from Cardinal Martini: I had congratulated him on his 80th birthday; we are the same age," the Holy Father told the students.

Benedict XVI continued: "In thanking me, he wrote: 'I thank the Lord, above all, for the gift of perseverance.'

"'Today,' he wrote, 'good is also done "ad tempos," "ad experimentum." The good, according to its essence, can only be done in a definitive way; but to do it in a definitive way we have need of the grace of perseverance; I pray every day,' he concluded, 'that the Lord will give me this grace.'"

Cardinal Martini also wrote that "Up to now the Lord has given me this grace of perseverance; he will give it to me, I hope, for this last stage of my journey on this earth," the Pontiff added.

Until the end

"We must have confidence in this gift of perseverance," Benedict XVI said, "but with tenacity, with humility and patience we must ask the Lord to help us and support us with the gift of the true definitiveness; that he support us, day after day, until the end, even if the path must go through dark valleys."

"The gift of perseverance gives us joy, gives us certainty that we are loved by the Lord and this love sustains us, helps us and does not leave us in our weaknesses," added the Pope.

The message that the Pope addressed to Cardinal Martini on the occasion of his birthday, Feb. 15, was made available to ZENIT.

"In this circumstance, I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude for all the good you have done and that only God is capable of evaluating," said the Pope in his letter.

Benedict XVI mentioned Cardinal Martini's "exemplary witness in the religious life, the service of research and teaching in the realm of biblical studies, the episcopal ministry in the Archdiocese of Milan and in the Council of the European Bishops' Conferences, the valuable collaboration in the Petrine ministry as a member of the college of cardinals and of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia."