Former archbishop of Milan succumbs to illness, dies at 85

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Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini. Credit: Raminus Falcon-Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, the Archbishop Emeritus of Milan, Italy, died today at the age of 85 after a long battle with Parkinson's Disease.

Known for his expertise in Biblical studies, Cardinal Martini was being treated at a Jesuit-run clinic in the city of Gallarte, near Milan. He died at 3:45 p.m. local time, after his condition took a turn for the worse yesterday evening.

Dr. Gianni Pezzoli, a specialist in neurology who led the team of doctors treating the cardinal, said he recently began experiencing difficulties with digestion but that Cardinal Martini remained alert until the end and refused any extraordinary treatments.

The current Archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Angelo Scola, urged the residents of his archdiocese to pray for the late cardinal.

Cardinal Martini was born on Feb. 15, 1927, in Turin and entered the Jesuit Order in 1944. He was ordained a priest in 1952 in Chieri and was named Archbishop of Milan in 1979.

He served as archbishop for 20 years, promoting biblical studies and dialogue with renowned intellectuals in the city. On Feb. 2, 1983, he was made a cardinal by Blessed Pope John Paul II.

Cardinal Martini held a doctorate in Theology and Sacred Scripture and served as rector of the Pontifical Biblical Institute and the Gregorian Pontifical University.

He wrote various books on the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, such as “The Ignatian Exercises in Light of the Gospel of St. John,” “The Spiritual Itinerary of the Twelve in the Gospel of St. Marcos,” and “The Ignatian Exercises in Light of the Gospel of St. Matthew,” among others.

In October of 1999, he was given an honorary doctorate by the Russian Academy of Sciences. In 2000 he was given the Prince of Asturias Award for the Social Sciences. He also received the Europe Award in 2000 and had been a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences since November of 2000.

The late cardinal was a member various curial offices, including the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and the Congregation for Catholic Education.

He was also a member of the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Commission for the Cultural Patrimony of the Church.

After reaching the age of 75 in 2002, he retired as Archbishop of Milan and moved to Jerusalem to devote himself to the study of Sacred Scripture and to continue writing about the Bible. In recent years he maintained contact with the faithful through a question and answer column in the Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera.

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