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Lombardi Editorial: The life and legacy of Cardinal Martini


(Vatican Radio) In his weekly editorial, Father Federico Lombardi, S.J., the Director of the Holy See Press Office, looks back on the life and legacy of Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, S.J.:

The death of Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini is an event that stirs great emotion well beyond the confines even of the vast Archdiocese of Milan, which he governed for 22 years. It concerns a bishop that, with his words, his many writings, his innovative pastoral initiatives, 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.

Cardinal Martini’s formation and personality were those of a Jesuit scholar of Sacred Scripture. The Word of God was the starting point and the foundation of his approach to every aspect of reality and all of his contributions. The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola were the matrix of his spirituality and spiritual pedagogy, of the continued engagement, at once direct and concrete, between the reading of the Word of God and life, of spiritual discernment and determinations in the light of the Gospel.

It was the courageous intuition of Pope John Paul II 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. He had a distinctive style of governing. In his last little book—Il Vescovo (“The Bishop”)—Martini wrote: “Do not think the bishop is able to effectively guide the people entrusted to him with a multitude of regulations and decrees, with prohibitions and negative judgements. Focus instead on interior formation, on a taste for and fascination with Sacred Scripture; show the positive reasons for our actions, inspired by the Gospel. One will gain so much more than one would by a rigid observance of rules and regulations.”

It is a precious heritage, to reflect upon seriously when we seek the paths of the “new evangelisation.”