Thursday, 6 September 2012

The Church admits its mistakes

'The pedophilia scandals oblige us to take a journey of transformation.'—Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini

Carlo Maria Martini, SJ
(15 February 1927 - 31 August 2012)
Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, 85, died Friday and his interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera was published the next day. In the interview, Martini urged the church to enact radical changes. He lambasted the church for being “tired as our culture has aged and is at least 200 years behind.  Our churches are big and empty while our rituals and our cassocks are pompous. So why doesn't it rouse itself? Is it afraid?".
Martini also emphasized that “The Church must admit its mistakes and begin a radical change, starting from the pope and the bishops. The pedophilia scandals oblige us to take a journey of transformation."

Once the archbishop of Milan, the Cardinal had been tipped as a possible future pope. During his time leading the largest diocese in Europe, he was outspoken and often critical in his remarks and writings about the church. Martini retired in 2002, suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

His criticism of the church covered a wide area and frequently came into direct conflict with  church governance and its doctrine.

For example he called for greater collegiality in the governance of the Church and urged continued reflection on the structure and exercise of ecclesiastical authority. He demonstrated a desire for further theological enquiry on issues relating to human sexuality and the role of women in the Church. He expressed support for the ordination of female deacons.

In a September 2004 message to a symposium on the Holy Land and interreligious dialogue, the cardinal wrote that Christians who visit Jerusalem should suspend judgment on the political situation there and simply pray for both sides. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict had become so complicated and painful that even an expert would have trouble sorting it out, he said.

In a November 2004 speech at Rome's Gregorian University, he told Catholics they could not understand their faith unless they understood the Jewish faith practiced by Jesus and his disciples.


In March 2007 he openly criticised the attitude of the Church authorities, while speaking at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem to a congregation of over 1,300 visitors, he remarked that "The Church does not give orders." Martini stated that "It is necessary to listen to others, and when speaking to use terms that they understand."

In his book Credere e conoscere, published shortly before his death, Martini set out his disagreement with the Catholic teaching against homosexual civil unions. “I disagree with the positions of those in the Church, that take issue with civil unions”, he wrote. “It is not bad, instead of casual sex between men, that two people have a certain stability” and that the “state could recognize them.” Although he stated his belief that "the homosexual couple, as such, can never be totally equated to a marriage" he also said that he could understand (although not necessarily approve) of gay pride parades when they support the need for self-affirmation.

The cardinal also said the reformed liturgy that came out of the Second Vatican Council marked "a real step forward" in nourishing Catholics "with the word of God, offered in a much more abundant way than before," with a much larger selection of Scripture readings.

In 2007, in a letter to an Italian newspaper, Cardinal Martini expressed qualified support for a patient’s right to die, urging the Vatican to honor the requests of terminally ill patients who ask “in all lucidity” for life-prolonging treatments to be withdrawn.

In a 2008 book-length interview titled "Nighttime Conversations in Jerusalem," Cardinal Martini said Pope Paul VI's 1968 encyclical "Humanae Vitae" ("Of Human Life"), which taught that artificial birth control was morally wrong, led many Catholics to distance themselves from the church and from listening to and being challenged by the Catholic vision of human sexuality.

To think I had never before heard about this incredibly courageous individual before?       

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