Milan, Italy, May 17, 2022 / 05:47 am (CNA).
Vatican Cardinal Michael Czerny on Monday described the late Italian Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini as a “prophet.”
Czerny, the prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, said that the controversial Jesuit theologian anticipated recent developments in the Catholic Church.
Martini, a renowned biblical scholar, was described by the New York Times as one of the Catholic Church’s “most influential progressive thinkers” and a “possible successor to Pope John Paul II,” when the Polish pope died in 2005.
Speaking in Milan on May 16, Cardinal Czerny said: “Many already appreciated him while he was among you, not without misunderstandings, uncertainties, and opposition.”
“Now we all understand him better, recognizing how his visions and the priorities of his pastoral governance — I would also like to say his style of listening, praying, and living — anticipated paths that finally involve the universal Church.”
Czerny’s remarks were reported by Vatican News, the Holy See’s online news portal, which said that the Canadian Jesuit spoke at the launch of the sixth volume of Martini’s complete works.
The book is called “Farsi prossimo” (“Draw near”), the title of a pastoral letter Martini wrote to Milan’s Catholics. The letter led to a diocesan convention in 1986, which Czerny linked to the global synodal process launched by Pope Francis.
Pope Francis has referred to Martini several times since his election in 2013.
The pope recalled Martini’s final interview in a speech to the Roman Curia in 2019.
He said: “Cardinal Martini, in his last interview, a few days before his death, said something that should make us think: ‘The Church is 200 years behind the times. Why is she not shaken up? Are we afraid? Fear, instead of courage? Yet faith is the Church’s foundation. Faith, confidence, courage… Only love conquers weariness.’”
In his speech in Milan, Cardinal Czerny said that Martini “did what the [Second Vatican] Council asked of him, an event that in his youth, as in Pope Francis’, represented an evangelical springtime.”
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