Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, long seen as one of the leading progressive voices in the Church, has died in Gallarate, northern Italy, aged 85.
Carlo Maria Martini was born near Turin in 1927, joined the Jesuits in 1944, and was ordained a priest in 1952, taking his final vows a s a Jesuit 10 years later. He served as the archbishop of Milan for 22 years, from 1980 to 2002. He was made a cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 1983, aged 56. An exegetical and theological scholar, he wrote more than 40 books, notably on spiritual exercises, and was reputed to speak 11 languages. Martini was the only Catholic member of the ecumenical committee that prepared the new Greek edition of the New Testament. After his retirement from leading the diocese of Milan, the cardinal moved to the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Jerusalem to continue his work as a biblical scholar.
Many progressive Catholics hoped that he might eventually be elected pope, but by the time John Paul II died in 2005, the cardinal was 78 and suffering - as the late pope had done - from Parkinson's disease. His liberal reputation had also won him praise from some quarters but criticism from others.
Martini called for greater collegiality in the Church and expressed support for the ordination of women as deacons. In 2000 he criticised the Vatican declaration Dominus Iesus, which described the Catholic Church as the one true Church, saying it was "theologically rather dense ... and not easy to grasp".
In 2006, in response to a specific question, he said condom use could "in certain situations, be a lesser evil", and cited cases of married couples where one has HIV or Aids.
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