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Cardinal Carlo Martini, SJ, dead at 85

(Vatican Radio) Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, S.J., the retired Archbishop of Milan died on the afternoon of Friday, 31 August 2012, after a long illness. He was 85. Listen to our report: RealAudioMP3

In a telegram to Cardinal Angelo Scola, the current archbishop of Milan, Pope Benedict XVI expressed his own sorrow at the death of "this dear brother, who has generously served the Gospel and the Church."

Pope Benedict recalled Cardinal Martini's many years of service as "an expert teacher, an authoritative biblical scholar and a beloved Rector of both the Pontifical Gregorian University and the Pontifical Biblical Institute." The Pope praised Martini as "a wise and diligent Archbishop of the Ambrosian Diocese."

Born in Turin, Italy, in 1927, Cardinal Martini joined the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) in 1944, when he was just 17 years old. He was ordained to the priesthood eight years later, in 1952.

A world-renowned biblical scholar, Martini served as Dean of the Faculty of Scripture at the Pontifical Biblical Institute, the Biblicum. In 1969 he became Rector of the Institute, a position he held until 1978 when he was called to become Rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University. As a scholar he wrote extensively scriptural topics, as well as on Ignatian Spirituality.

Pope John Paul II chose Carlo Martini to assume the office of Archbishop of Milan in 1979. Martini governed the Archdiocese, one of the largest in the world, for over twenty years.

The Director of the Holy See's Press office, Father Federico Lombardi, a fellow Jesuit, said Cardinal Martini's death "is an event that stirs great emotion well beyond the confines even of the vast Archdiocese of Milan."

Father Lombardi said, "With his words, his many writings, his innovative pastoral initiatives, [Cardinal Martini] was able to effectively witness to the Faith, and proclaim it to the people of our times."