Two notes about the late Card. Martini (R.I.P.)

Carlo Maria Card. Martini, SJ, died.  I have little to say about him.  However, I found in our Catholic blogosphere two comments on his death which are useful.

By way of introduction, in early August Card. Martini did an interview for Corriere della Sera.  It was not released, however, until after Martini’s death, which seems to me be have been planned, particularly because of the descriptive phrase leading off the interview, «Una sorta di testamento spirituale. Il cardinale Martini ha letto e approvato il testo» … “A kind of spiritual testament. Cardinal Martini read and approved the text.” An English translation of the interview can be found HERE.

First, from Rorate comes this, which begins with the old …

De mortuis nihil nisi bonum [(Say) nothing but good about the dead.]

A good rule, certainly, a hallmark of civilization, and one we have always observed.

When the dead person himself chooses to cause uproar in a “posthumous” interview timed to be released immediately following his death and published in order to criticize the Church that gave him everything he had and that made him everything he was, then, our prayers having been said, we can only affirm, without referring to any specific person:


You can see for yourself what they affirm over there.  I am not sure I entirely agree with their assessment, though I sure understand their position.  It seems to me, however, that in God’s mysterious providence, we don’t always know what comes from a man’s choices.  But let that pass.

Next, here is a goodly portion of a good post by my friend the mighty p.p. of Brighton, Fr. Ray Blake.  My emphases:


The problem for Martini, as for the left in general, is that he was well able to present a critique of the Church’s problems but not to offer any realistic solutions, unless criticism itself can be deemed a solution. The posthumously published interview is hyperbolic, in the “something must be done” style but there actually no answers or solutions. In areas of the admission of the “some” divorced people to Holy Communion, of the perception of those outside the Church to its teaching on sex and sexuality, practically everyone with a heart would agree that there is problem, Pope Benedict himself has often spoken on such issues. The problem is dealing with these particular and personal problems through the general and universal law of the Church; difficult cases do not make for good law. On evangelisation, on the involvement of the laity in diocesan government or diocesan bishops in the universal Church are issues that Pope Benedict has addressed. Solving the problems are a little more difficult than merely identifying that there is a problem. [Perhaps very points Martini critiqued were his suggestions for solutions.  In other words, perhaps he thought the “problems” were to be solved by fiat, and I don’t mean the car company.  By a stroke of the pen, the Roman Pontiff was to change the Church’s law and, I think I don’t go out on a limb to say it, the Church’s doctrine.]

There are many contradictions in Martini’s thought, on the one hand he speaks about the “loss of  future generations of Catholics”, he seems to mean cultural Catholics and yet he demands a radical following of the Gospel. He seems unable to understand that the radical break with traditional Catholicism also breaks the connection of cultural Catholics. [Good point!]

There is a Marxist sense of cultural struggle, or even low level war, in Martini’s writings, which marks out the left (left in bot the theological and political sense). There is need to attack, an attempt to destroy “the institution” of presenting the “institutional” Church in opposition to the Church of the masses. Once those things which are attacked are destroyed, they are replaced by another left leaning institution that is far [more] tyrannical than that which went before. In classic Marxist terms there is a continuous process of purification that goes on until such time as perfection is achieved. In the case of the Church of course, until such time as the institutional Church is destroyed and replaced by a perfect human society, which of course will be something quite contrary to Church of the Gospel or Revelation.

Well said, Fr. Blake.

That said, friends… stop and say a prayer for the repose of the soul of the late Card. Martini, who has gone to his judgment.

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  1. Supertradmum says:

    God bless this Cardinal. One must always look at the language of the Marxist dialectic and realize how this viewpoint has not only infiltrated some thinking at the highest levels in the Church (stupid leak last Autumn on finances), but caused such problems as Fr. Blake points out in personal interpretations of history, which cause confusion, indeed. We need leaders who think like Catholics.

  2. BillyT92679 says:

    God bless him and Mary keep him. I do laud his service and I am sure he was very pastoral and beloved by his people in Milan. By all accounts he was a decent and upright man, however you viewed his theological and political leanings. He was undeniably brilliant, and even though his Scriptural exegeses were controversial, they were certainly well-researched and thought-provoking. He was definitely a man committed to the Scriptures.

    Saying that, and I do pray that he either is, or will be soon after a brief stay in Purgatory will be, in Heaven, I am glad he was never elected Pope. He was the standard-bearer of liberal Catholicism for generations and really was their shot to “institutionalize” the spirit of Vatican II for generations. I am sure that Fr. McBrien has written a passionate memorial.

    These are all men committed to serving Christ. Even the most ardently left-wing bishops and priests (and I lived in the Diocese of Rochester for years under one of the most left-wing of them all) are men who gave up marriage, children, and other professions to follow Jesus. That’s why I’m never that critical. Even the ones that failed on a moral level I never overtly criticize. They are all stronger men than I.

  3. Father K says:

    Compare what Martini says with what Cardinal Burke said when he very recently addressed the Canon Law Society of Kenya. I notice that whenever liberals wring their hands over the plight of divorced Catholics who have attempted a second civil marriage and cannot receive the Sacraments they never, ever mention the process of nullity. Everyone has the right to ask the Church through her tribunals to determine whether or not their failed marriage was in fact, valid in the first place. With the trends in today’s western society and the deplorable ignorance of many Catholics regarding the very basic teachings and practices of our faith, many more marriages than we would think are in all probability, invalid. Of course, ‘marriage enjoys the favour of the law,’ and that is where tribunals come in to help people who have experienced a marriage breakdown.

  4. robtbrown says:

    Despite his education Cardinal Martini was like other liberals, who always seem to think that the answer is to change or ignore doctrine. I would like to have asked him what his solution would be for the dearth of Jesuit vocations in the West.

  5. anna 6 says:

    I respect this important man of the Church and pray for him…I am however, disturbed by some of what he said in the interview. So much of what he claims the Church needs to do in terms of “reform, conversion and presenting the faith in a positive way as opposed to a burden of rules and laws”, are things that Pope Benedict has been doing since day one of his pontificate. He acts as if he is part of the problem rather than the solution. Giving the impression that the pope is working against renewal of the faith (albeit with very different kinds of solutions than Martini would present) does absolutely NOTHING to help evangelize.
    I also think that some of Martini’s words are being manipulated by those who would love to see the Church conform to the current culture.

  6. gracie says:

    The Jesuit magazine “America” posted the following comment by Fr. Francis Clooney, S.J.:

    “Many of us were also edified and encouraged by his sober and honest last interview . . . (he) offers three challenging and wise words of advice on what we can do to bring the Church back to life . . . These are gifts that all of us are invited to take to heart, while the official Church is called to purify itself and to get out of the way, so to speak, to allow these gifts to pour forth their grace, less hindered by our 200 years-plus of weariness, smothered flames, and institutional bondage . . ..

    I add a fourth challenge: learning from outside the Church, from people of other Christian communities and farther afield. Surely Cardinal Martini did not mean to suggest that the Church ought to heal itself entirely with its own inner resources, as if self-sufficiency were an unyielding value here . . . it seems to be our duty today to learn even from figures like the Reverend Moon. What is their message, and its inspiration? . . . But yes, to dare to learn from the Reverend Moon or even a somewhat inscrutable church such as Scientology requires attention, study, and the clear-headed ability to sort out the wise and the foolish, the insightful and the erring. No easy condemnation or bland benevolence will do any good. As the Cardinal suggests, we need our wits about us if we are to stir to new life the embers of the Church’s great fires. Only in this way, really, will the Church catch up with today’s world, without losing itself by going to fast or by dragging its feet or by not moving at all.”

  7. Supertradmum says:

    The Bride of Christ “get out of the way”? Someone lacks a lesson in Ecclesiology.

  8. moconnor says:

    Oh my, we should call on Rev. Moon? Fr. Clooney must be certain that the Holy Spirit is an insufficient resource. Sorry, Father, with all due respect, I believe that we ARE supposed to rely on our own resources.

  9. Sissy says:

    Father Clooney thinks we need to learn from Scientology? Seriously?

  10. wmeyer says:

    So we are to find and incorporate whatever is good in Scientology?

    Apparently the study of Pope St. Pius’ writings on Modernism is not given in the seminary. Indeed, the enemy is inside, and we must increase our own knowledge of our faith, if we are to avoid the poisons they spread.

  11. Sissy says:

    wmeyer: great point. We’ve got to arm ourselves with the truth so we can be ready to counter this kind of poison (perfect choice of word!).

  12. Filipino Catholic says:

    Three words from Paul VI: “smoke of Satan”. Not sure if Cardinal Martini (I wonder if he enjoyed the drink he was named for) has been infected with this “spiritual malaise” or not. God reserves the right to judge in that respect.

  13. robtbrown: I would like to have asked him what his solution would be for the dearth of Jesuit vocations in the West.

    That they should quit emphasizing doctrine as faithfully as they do?

  14. Imrahil says:

    There is one thing more dangerous than allowing Holy Communion for divorced people.

    Namely, allowing Holy Communion for some divorced people without abstractly specifying whom, and leaving them alone with the decision whether to approach.

    Dear @Sissy and @wmeyer, theoretically we should take from Scientology whatever is good in there and incorporate it. Yes we should.
    Only that Scientology is one of the few cases where there is nothing good in. (Which is definitely not true about Islam or even the direct antagonist of Christendom, viz. Buddhism. – Another thing is that even if there is something good in other religions, normally we already have that, and purer; through no merit of ours of course.) Scientology is not even a religion, to begin with. (Yes I’m totally defending my government’s stand on the issue.) It is a collection of some who make money with belletristic literature, minus the harmlessness.

    As it were, I was just trying to defend Fr Clooney from the point that however interreligious he is, it is unfair to throw the Scientology example against him (which is no religion, etc.). Then I looked up what he had written. He has actually used the example himself! Leaves me without a word.

    As to the real important issue, requiem aeternam.

  15. gracie says:

    I’m trying to figure out where Fr. Clooney gets the number 200 with his comment:

    “. . . less hindered by our 200 years-plus of weariness, smothered flames, and institutional bondage.”

    Is he referring to the period of the American Revolution? To the lead-up to the War of 1812? To something going on in Europe at that time?

    I don’t have the foggiest idea what Father Clooney is referring to with that comment. If anyone here does know, would you mind enlightening me? Thanks.

  16. Filipino Catholic says:

    @gracie In all likelihood, he probably just pulled said number out of thin air.

    Filipino Catholic.

  17. HighMass says:

    Reposino in Pace Eminenca,
    Thank GOD this Man was not elected in 2005!

    Thank GOD for Pope Benedict XVI.

  18. feargalmac says:

    “Ideology—that is what gives evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination. That is the social theory which helps to make his acts seem good instead of bad in his own and others’ eyes, so that he won’t hear reproaches and curses but will receive praise and honours.” Alexandr Solzhenitsyn

    This quote always comes to mind when I hear the modernist mantra of changing with the times.

    @Gracie I would think it’s a reference to the French Revolution. It was the Cardinal who initially made reference to that number of years.

  19. VexillaRegis says:

    Maybe his misspelled his own name. Should it not be Fr. See: Looney?

  20. gracie says:


    Thanks for your reply. I see that Cardinal Martini did indeed come up with the “200” plus year number. As he’s a European you’re almost certainly right that he’s referring to the French Revolution.

    The French Revolution – which decimated the Catholic Church in France and tortured and killed all the priests and nuns they could get their hands on – THAT is the program the Church should have gotten with in reorganizing and renewing herself??? Presumably the Cardinal saw the martyrs as regrettable collateral damage serving the higher purpose of getting the Church onto the track of modernism. It makes one wonder about his education and if modernism already was being taught in the seminaries of his time.

  21. anna 6 says:

    the quote in Cardinal Martini’s interview that is getting the most media play is that “The Church is 200 years behind”.

  22. Pingback: St. Gregory the Great Cardinal Martini John Carr | Big Pulpit

  23. Long-Skirts says:

    Henry Edwards says:

    “robtbrown: I would like to have asked him what his solution would be for the dearth of Jesuit vocations in the West.”


    They have no sons
    Of spirit or body
    Oh, perhaps illegitimate
    For those proud and shoddy

    They have no sons
    Of spiritual repute
    And their Flesh-less words
    Dwell to dispute

    But we have sons
    Of souls and mortal
    Manning, guarding
    The Barque’s every portal

    While Son-less men
    Lie like whores –
    Forever in fornication
    With the lion who roars!!

    May God have mercy on their souls and St. Michael the Archangel defend us!

  24. The Cobbler says:

    Step 1: Suggest we need to figure out in what way we should be more like the Moonies.
    Step 2: Wonder why we don’t have more converts and more accepted vocations.

    There are those who are with you, those who are against you, and then those who just hate parody so much that they devote their lives to ensuring nobody can ever caricature them.

    Same goes for the guy with the calendar in the otherpost.

  25. rcg says:

    Is it speaking ill to say that it is pretty Charlie Sierra for the Cardinal to leave that testament for post mortem publication? It so, then I will say in a positive way that at least it is useful, as one would use a magnet to draw shrapnel from a wound, to make the loons like Fr Clooney reveal their location.

  26. kiwiinamerica says:

    Martini……bitter and stirred!

  27. Bruce says:

    “The pope is not an absolute monarch whose will is law; rather, he is the guardian of the authentic Tradition, and thereby the premier guarantor of obedience. He cannot do as he likes, and is thereby able to oppose those people who for their part want to do what has come into their head. His rule is not that of arbitrary power, but that of obedience in faith.” Pope Benedict XVI

  28. frjim4321 says:

    God bless Cardinal Martini.

    His honesty and courage will be very much missed.

    This loss impoverishes us all.

  29. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Now, folks, there is one good thing about Scientology: the Writers of the Future contest that they used to run in honor of their sf writing founder. Everything else is wicked, stupid, or a waste of time and money.

    I suppose that it is useful for the Church to study what sad yearnings in the human heart and what horrible gullibilities that the con game and brainwashing “churches” use as handles. But nothing else could possibly be learned from them. We’re not going to trick and brainwash catechumens into joining up; we’re not going to tell them lies; we’re not going to run around putting rattlesnakes in our critics’ mailboxes.

  30. Father K says:


    Apart from other things….do you not believe in the Communion of Saints?

  31. Adam says:

    a couple of things i would like to say on the late Cardinal Martini. Firstly, the huge crowd of thousands of Milanese (not only in the Duomo) who had gathered in the piazza at the front of the Duomo yesterday. It was jampacked. This says much for the memory of a cardinal who had left the See 10 years ago. And in the end it the people he served as archbishop for 2 decades, almost as long as JPII and as long as Basil Hume in Westminster.
    I am once again turned off by the label ‘liberal’ which is thrown around at at this great cardinal of the Church. It is bandied around when people usually have a problem with an individual’s point of view and this is rampant on Fox News. It immediately sets up a divide and an argument and in the end it says nothing. But we ought not forget that Martini was appointed archbishop by JPII and had his confidence all hrough his ministry (or would have been removed if not). He voted in conclave of 2005 and perhaps if not for bad health could have been pope – we will never know.
    But the man was a biblical scholar, grounded in the Word of God. Few bishops are biblical scholars. Mark Coleridge in Australia is one of them .
    But do not judge the man and the bishop for one interview given prior to his death and which was published after when he could not reply. And besides, do we know if Martini had approved it being published.
    Finally, some slights and attacks on this great biblical scholar and bishop and cardinal seem to be par for the coure for some inside critics. We have seen that with the nasty attacks of Archbishop Marini who was papal master of ceremonies for much of JPII’s pontificate. He had the confidence of the Blessed pope and was close to him, so close that he elevated him to bishop and then archbishop during his papacy. These attacks ought stop. They do no service to the Church and to good and holy priests who do their best in a flawed world and indeed in a flawed Church, a Church of sinners, let us remind ourselves. We all live in glass houses and when the rocks start being thrown around at good men, damage is done. Too much genuine damage and evil has occured in the Church over the centuries that has ripped asunder the fabric of its holiness.
    Martini, like all of us, will face his Maker, the Lord God and give an account. Perhaps others should just maintain a silence and be thankful for a good priest and bishop has been called to his eternal reward.

  32. Supertradmum says:

    Adam, all the liberal bishops in the world were appointed by Blessed John Paul II, except for a few really old ones. Just a reminder…

  33. Fr. Frank says:

    Sissy, et al.: Let’s keep our cults straight. Rev. Moon is the founder of the Unification Church, the “Moonies.” Scientology was concocted by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard.

  34. wmeyer says:

    Imrahil wrote: “Dear @Sissy and @wmeyer, theoretically we should take from Scientology whatever is good in there and incorporate it. Yes we should.”

    On what premise? By what doctrine? How, pray tell, is your position not an example of Modernism?

  35. Sissy says:

    Fr. Frank, what did I say that made you think I’m confusing Scientology with the Moonies?

    Imrahil: Scientology is a man-made fraud; there is nothing theologically good in it.

  36. irishgirl says:

    I heard about Cardinal Martini’s death early Sunday morning on the BBC World News Service-it jarred me out of a [somewhat] sound sleep.
    I really didn’t want to hear what he said in his ‘last interview’, about the Church being ‘200 years behind the times’. I have enough aggravation in my life right now without being more aggravated by some liberal bishop, even if he was a cardinal.
    That being said, I echo what High Mass said: ‘Thank GOD this Man was not elected in 2005!’
    Who knows what direction the Church would have taken if Martini became Pope?

  37. Pingback: Cardinal Martini R.I.P. - Catholic Bandita | Catholic Bandita

  38. JKnott says:

    Adam re your comment: “I am once again turned off by the label ‘liberal’ which is thrown around at at this great cardinal of the Church. It is bandied around when people usually have a problem with an individual’s point of view and this is rampant on Fox News. It immediately sets up a divide and an argument and in the end it says nothing.”
    Our Holy Father had fine words to say about the Cardinal at his death too, and that is commendable. And I agree with you about the labels. In fact the main stream media never misses the opportunity inject the term “conservative” before the name of anyone and everyone they disagree with. So are you defining a double standard here?
    Yet in the Church, the real word is orthodox or otherwise.
    This cardinal, (may he rest in peace) as well-loved or go0d a priest as only God knows he was, nevertheless made rather unorthodox statements leaning towards Modernism, thus leaving an opening to lead the Faithful flock astray. If his last statement was a deliberate and antagonistic call for the Church to be “of the world” then we can be relieved that the Lord has called him home.

  39. jhayes says:

    Here is the Pope’s tribute to Cardinal Martini

    Dear Brothers and Sisters,
    At this time I would like to express my closeness in prayer and affection, to the entire Archdiocese of Milan, the Society of Jesus, relatives and all those who loved and esteemed Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini and have wanted to accompany him on this last journey.

    “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path” (Ps 119: 105): the Psalmist’s words can sum up the entire existence of this generous and faithful pastor of the Church. He was a man of God, who not only studied the Bible, but loved it intensely, he made it the light of his life, so that everything was “ad maiorem Dei gloriam,” for the greater glory of God . And for this reason he was able to teach believers and those who were seeking the truth that the only word worthy of being listened to, accepted and followed is that of God, because it shows all the path of truth and love. He did so with a great openness of heart, never refusing to encounter and dialogue with anyone, responding concretely to the Apostle’s invitation to “always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope ” (1 Peter 3:15). He was, with a spirit of profound pastoral charity, according to his Episcopal motto, Pro veritate adversa diligere, attentive to all situations, especially the most difficult, lovingly close to those who were lost, the poor, the suffering.

    In one of the homilies of his long ministry at the service of this Ambrosian Archdiocese he thus prayed: “We ask you, Lord, make us spring water for others, bread broken for others, light to those who walk in darkness, life for those who grope in the shadows of death. Lord, be the life of the world, Lord, guide us towards your Easter, and together we will walk towards you, carrying your cross, we will taste communion with your resurrection. Together with you we will walk towards the Heavenly Jerusalem, towards the Father “(Homily of March 29, 1980).

    May the Lord, who guided Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini his whole life, receive this tireless servant of the Gospel and of the Church in the Heavenly Jerusalem. May my blessing comfort all those present and those who mourn his loss.

    From Castel Gandolfo, September 3, 2012

  40. Adam says:

    JKnott comments on my comments re the late cardinal Martini and brings in the word ‘orthodox’ which is always a good word to use or throw around when looking for those whose views are compatible or not with the Magisterium in most cases. But in the case of Martini he was orthodox or else John Paul II would have removed him from Milan and no doubt Benedict XVI would have issued a statement criticising him in the last 7 years. NEITHER pontiff did anything to show they did not agree with Martini. Indeed at yesterday’s Mass a very fulsome message was read out from Benedict praising him as man of God. No condemnation at all. So I suggest this criticism and these attacks on his memory ought stop. The attacks are tearing the fabric of the Church. Try being a bishop. a cardinal in today’s world. Try leading the huge ancient diocese of Milan in an Italy that has one of the lowest church attendances in the world. More criticsim of Italian Catholic practices might be more to the point in a hatch, match and dispatch form of Catholicism. And Ive lived there and experienced it. The great cardinal is worthy of his place.
    Finally, you say ‘we can be relieved the Lord has taken him’. This must be one of the most patronising and condescending comments Ive seen. We can be relieved? Relieved at what? This comment verges on playing God. God calls each of us when He is ready and not when people around us want us to go or loosen our mortal coil. I have to say, what a chilling comment.
    I pray that God will give Martini the rest for eternity we all desire. But perhaps we will not be as worthy as was the good and holy priest, bishop and cardinal of the Church. RIP

  41. robtbrown says:

    ,B.Adam says:
    JKnott comments on my comments re the late cardinal Martini and brings in the word ‘orthodox’ which is always a good word to use or throw around when looking for those whose views are compatible or not with the Magisterium in most cases. But in the case of Martini he was orthodox or else John Paul II would have removed him from Milan and no doubt Benedict XVI would have issued a statement criticising him in the last 7 years. NEITHER pontiff did anything to show they did not agree with Martini.

    In so far as you lived in Milan, I’m surprised that you don’t know more about the situation re Cdl Martini. JPII didn’t need to opposed him–Cdl Ruini and all the other Italian Cardinals did.

  42. robtbrown says:

    Should be:

    In so far as you lived in Milan, I’m surprised that you don’t know more about the situation re Cdl Martini. JPII didn’t need to opposed him–Cdl Ruini and all the other Italian Cardinals did.

  43. Y2Y says:

    The degree of naivete of some on this list is truly astonishing.
    This man Martini did evil things. His passing is a good thing. I truly look forward to the day when the last liberal prelate draws his final breath and we are finally free of their filth.

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