What Cardinal Martini Said, and What He Didn’t Say | Russell Shaw | Catholic World Report
The late cardinal’s controversial interview was less interesting than what some progressive Catholics have tried to make of it.
Let’s face it—there are times when matters that exercise Catholics in their intra-Church dogfights look rather small in comparison to the great themes of faith. As I was reading some of the whooping by progressive Catholics that greeted the posthumous publication of an interview by Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini of Milan, I thought of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s description of what he found at Union Theological Seminary in the early 1930s:
In New York, they preach about virtually everything; only one thing is not addressed, or is addressed so rarely that I have as yet been unable to hear it, namely, the gospel of Jesus Christ, the cross, sin and forgiveness, life and death.
The Tablet of London, which along with the Corriere della Serra of Milan was one of the first periodicals to receive and publish the Martini interview, probably wasn’t thinking of that when it welcomed this short document as “a sweeping indictment of the last two papacies.” Yet the late Cardinal’s remarks are in reality rather small beer, while the “indictment,” such as it is, is one Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI could have adopted, at least partly, as their own.
At the start, let us recognize that Cardinal Martini, who died August 31 at the age of 85 after a long struggle with Parkinson’s disease, was a man of stature and, by all accounts, a conscientious pastor of his huge archdiocese. A Jesuit and a Scripture scholar, he’d served as rector of the Pontifical Biblical Institute and, briefly, of the Gregorian University before Pope John Paul tapped him for Milan in 1979. This appointment did honor to appointee and appointer alike since it illustrated John Paul’s self-confident willingness to provide prominent platforms for talented churchmen whose views he by no means always shared. And predictably, long before retiring in 2002, the cardinal had become the leader of the loyal opposition in the College of Cardinals.
His newly published interview was given shortly before his death to an Austrian Jesuit colleague and a woman friend. Its most-quoted passage is this: