Friday, August 31, 2012
The former Archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, is apparently close to death. Incumbent Cardinal Angelo Scola called on the faithful to pray for his 85-year-old predecessor. Martini's health had deteriorated significantly, the archdiocese said on Thursday evening in a statement on its website. The Cardinal, one of the most influential figures in the Italian church has suffered from Parkinson's disease for many years. According to Italian media, Martini has since Thursday been violently coughing and wheezing. His doctors needed to sedate him. Meanwhile, his closest relatives have been called to the bedside, among them his sister Maris Martini. Two months ago Martini stopped his weekly guest posts for the daily newspaper "Corriere della Sera". His illness had given him a "clear signal" to withdraw from the worldly affairs and to prepare for eternity, he wrote. The Jesuit and renowned biblical scholar Martini is one of the most popular Italian churchmen. For years, he was one of the key figures in the dialogue between the Church and society. At times, he was also considered a candidate for the papacy. In controversies surrounding the practice and teaching of the Catholic Church, he constantly supported more open positions. Since 1979, Archbishop of Milan, Martini lived alternately after his retirement in 2002 in Jerusalem and Italy, until his illness in 2008 finally forced him to return to his homeland.