2012-09-03 16:13:30

Pope’s final salute to Card. Martini: He was a man of God

(Vatican Radio) Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini was “a man of God”, whose every thought and action was nourished by his intense love of the Word of God, which was the “light of his life”. As a pastor he was uniquely capable of bringing this light to others, even those distant from the Church and to “the most difficult situations”: this is how Pope Benedict XVI remembers the towering figure of the Church, whose funeral took place Monday afternoon in Milan Cathedral.

According to Italian press an estimated 200 thousand people made their way to Milan’s cathedral this weekend to pay their respects to a man who had marked the history of the Ambrosian diocese over the past century. A great Jesuit scholar, teacher and pastor, he led the Archdiocese of Milan for more than two decades, from 1980 until his retirement in 2002.

On Monday, when the cathedral doors opened before the funeral Mass, people were already queued in great numbers, waiting and hoping for a spot on the inside of the church – though large viewing screens had been set up in the square for those whom the basilica could not accommodate.

The Liturgy – which was broadcast live nationwide - was presided by the current Archbishop of Milan Card. Angelo Scola. The Pope sent the archpriest of St Peter’s Basilica, Cardinal Angelo Comastri, as his special representative – with a very personal message for the people of Milan, believers and non-believers who had come to mourn Card. Martini.

Below a Vatican Radio translation of the Holy Father’s Message:
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

Benedictus PP. XVI

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