Vatican Spokesman Reflects on Cardinal Martini's Life

Says John Paul II Was Courageous to Put Scholar at Head of Huge Archdiocese

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By Junno Arocho

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 3, 2012 (Zenit.org).- The death of the former archbishop of Milan brought mourning well beyond the confines of the vast archdiocese, says the director of the Vatican press office.

Jesuit Federico Lombardi reflected in his weekly editorial on the life and legacy of Cardinal Carlo Martini, who passed away on Friday at the age of 85. The cardinal had suffered from Parkinson’s disease for several years. His funeral was today.

Father Lombardi stated that the death of Cardinal Martini stirred "great emotion well beyond the confines even of the vast Archdiocese of Milan, which he governed for 22 years."

"With his words, his many writings, his innovative pastoral initiatives, [he] was able to effectively witness to and proclaim the faith to the people of our time; earning the esteem and respect of those both near and far; inspiring so many of his brother bishops throughout the world in the exercise of their ministry," the Vatican spokesman said.

Fr. Lombardi, who along with the late cardinal belonged to the Society of Jesus, noted that Cardinal Martini's personality and formation were of a "Jesuit scholar of Sacred Scripture." He added that the Italian prelate kept the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, as the epicenter of his spirituality. 

Regarding the cardinal’s appointment as archbishop of Milan, Fr. Lombardi lauded the late Pope John Paul II's "courageous" decision to "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."

Fr. Lombardi concluded his editorial quoting an excerpt from Cardinal Martini's last book, "Il Vescovo" (The Bishop), where the late prelate reflected on interior formation through sacred Scripture: "It is a precious heritage, to reflect upon seriously when we seek the paths of the 'new evangelization."