Cardinal Martini: “The Vatican is 200 years behind the world”


Cardinal Martini: “The Vatican is 200 years behind the world”

Tags: Catholic Church, Vatican, Society, World, Opinion & Analysis Andrey Fedyashin

Sep 5, 2012 13:57 Moscow Time Photo: EPA


The Vatican is in an uproar over an inter-church scandal, which has become the property of the public thanks to journalists. On the day of Archbishop of Milan Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini’s funeral, the largest Italian daily Corriere della Serapublished his last interview given shortly before his death. In it, the prominent figure of the Catholic Church stated that the Holy See was “200 years behind the world”. Carlo Maria Martini announced that the Vatican’s culture was out of date, “our churches are big and empty”, while the bureaucratic apparatus was growing. In the interview he said: “The Church must admit its mistakes and implement radical changes, starting with the Pope and bishops”. In Martini’s opinion, the Church should radically reconsider its attitude to divorce, family planning and contraceptives. Otherwise, the Church will lose the confidence of future generations. Russian expert on the history of the Vatican, Alexey Boukalov, believes that the Cardinal’s appeal reflects the opinion of many ordinary Catholics and priests. But they are unlikely to be able to change the policy of the Holy See. “The process of working out a position takes a long time. More than one dissident, like Cardinal of Milan, is needed in order to change the position of the Vatican. It can take ages. There is no doubt that today an outstanding theologian is heading the Roman Catholic Church, but he sticks to very conservative views. And being the leader of the Church he is doing everything in order to preserve these conservative views. And of course, he is going to resist all changes.” Benedict XVI has not attended the funeral in Milan. One of the most conservative leaders of the Roman Catholic Church has failed to establish relations with the freethinker from Milan. Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini was the liberal voice of the Roman Curia, which is a real rarity of itself. And although he had almost no supporters among the hierarchs of the Church in the Vatican, ordinary ministers of the Holy See supported him. As for the Milanese, he was an indisputable authority and the favorite of the whole city. Tens of thousands of people came to say goodbye to him. In an interview with the Voice of Russia, Professor of the Russian State Humanitarian University Alexey Yudin said that Cardinal Martini was an exceptional figure of the Catholic Church. “Many people within the Roman Catholic Church considered Carlo Maria Martini’s opinion. He was some kind of a tuning fork for them. I think that being a part of general processes within Christianity, Carlo Martini’s standpoint will sooner or later bring results. Maybe, it will happen at the official level.” The last revolution within the Roman Catholic Church occurred in the 60s of the 20th century, when the Reformer-Pope John XXIII convened the Second Vatican Council. The issues on the agenda were spiritually close to those raised by Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini before his death: conversing to a new rite and local languages while celebrating the Liturgy, anti-semitism, missionary work and the role of mass media. But it looks like even nowadays neither the Church, nor the society is ready for these changes. No other newspaper except Corriere della Sera has published Cardinal Martini’s interview, and the comments were very scarce, too. The explanation is simple: the Italians believe that the Vatican’s people are everywhere, and no one wants to fall out with the Church. It has been a long time since the Vatican has last heard such a torrent of criticism. One of the prominent figures of the Catholic Church accused the Holy See that it was “200 years behind the world”. And the judgement sounded from the grave.

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