.- Pope Benedict XVI paid tribute to Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, who was buried Sept. 3 in Milan, the northern Italian city where he served as archbishop for over two decades.
“May the Lord, who guided Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini his whole life, receive this tireless servant of the Gospel and of the Church in the Heavenly Jerusalem,” said Pope Benedict in a personal message that was read to mourners by his representative, Cardinal Angelo Comastri, the Archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica.
Cardinal Martini died at the age of 85 on Friday, Aug. 31 after suffering for several years from Parkinson’s disease.
A native of Turin, Carlo Maria Martini entered the Society of Jesus in 1944 and was ordained a priest eight years later. In 1979, Pope John Paul II appointed him the Archbishop of Milan, Europe’s largest diocese, elevating him to the Sacred College of Cardinals in 1983. He retired as archbishop in 2002.
A respected scholar, Cardinal Martini held a doctorate in Theology and Sacred Scripture and served as rector of the Pontifical Biblical Institute and the Gregorian Pontifical University.
“He was a man of God, who not only studied the Bible, but loved it intensely, he made it the light of his life, so that everything was ‘ad maiorem Dei gloriam,’ for the greater glory of God,” Pope Benedict said in his message.
Listening on were some 20,000 mourners both inside and outside the cathedral. Among them was the Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti. The funeral rite itself was presided over by the present Archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Angelo Scola.
Pope Benedict said that Cardinal Martini’s intellect and ability to dialogue with others meant that he was able to teach believers and “those who were seeking the truth” that “the only word worthy of being listened to, accepted and followed is that of God, because it shows all the path of truth and love.”
He did so with “a great openness of heart, never refusing to encounter and dialogue with anyone, responding concretely to the Apostle’s invitation to ‘always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope,’” Pope Benedict said.
All of this, the Pope reflected, led to Cardinal Martini to have a “spirit of profound pastoral charity.”
The pontiff said this was especially true for those Cardinal Martini met who were in the most difficult circumstances. Cardinal Martini was “lovingly close to those who were lost, the poor, the suffering.”