Funeral of Cardinal Martini to Take Place Monday

The late Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, pictured at an event in Milan in 2010.
The late Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, pictured at an event in Milan in 2010. (photo: Wikipedia)

The funeral Mass of Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini will be held in Milan’s cathedral on Monday afternoon and he will be buried there immediately after the rite, according to the archdiocese.

The Jesuit Archbishop Emeritus of Milan died at 3.45pm local time on August 31st at a Jesuit-run clinic in the city of Gallarte, near Milan. He was 85, and had suffered from Parkinson’s disease for many years. 

Appointed by Pope John Paul II in 1979, the Turin-born cardinal led Italy's largest archdiocese for 22 years and was renowned for his expertise in Sacred Scripture, serving as rector of the Pontifical Biblical Institute and the Pontifical Gregorian University.

Cardinal Martini was a controversial figure, for many years viewed as the standard-bearer of the liberal wing of the Church who touted him as a leading contender to succeed John Paul II. His remarks on the possible use of condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS, and his qualified support for a patient’s right to die, were just some of his more controversial opinions that drew both widespread criticism and support.

Yet he was personally close to both John Paul II and Benedict XVI. In a message of condolence sent yesterday to Cardinal Angelo Scola, the current archbishop, Pope Benedict said he thinks "fondly of this dear brother who generously served the Gospel and the Church.

“I remember with gratitude his intense apostolic work, which he generously carried out as a zealous religious and spiritual son of St. Ignatius, an exceptional teacher, authoritative biblical scholar and esteemed rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University and the Pontifical Biblical Institute, and then as a diligent and wise archbishop of this Ambrosian Archdiocese,” he said.

“I also think of the competent and fervent service he rendered to the Word of God, by opening to the ecclesial community the treasures of Sacred Scripture, especially through the promotion of lectio divina."

He also noted how the cardinal lived his lengthy illness "in serenity of soul and trustful abandonment to the will of the Lord."

The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, also paid tribute, saying Martini “bore witness to and taught the primacy of the spiritual life, as well as attentive listening to man in his various existential and social conditions.” He recalled the cardinal as "an expert in and lover of sacred Scripture, which he taught all those who make up the People of God to know and to ponder, as well as so many persons who seek the truth."

Cardinal Martini will be buried in the cathedral as he requested, in an empty tomb located not far from another previous Archbishop of Milan,  St. Charles Borromeo. The burial will take place privately, in the presence of Cardinal Scola, family members, and Church leaders.

Corriere della Sera reported that soon after the announcement of his death, faithful began arriving at the cathedral to pay their respects. The cardinal was particularly popular in Milan and the city’s authorities have invited all Milanese to observe a minute of silence at 4pm on Monday.