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Translated final interview with Cardinal Martini

Translated final interview with Cardinal Martini

National Catholic Reporter has offered a translation of Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini’s final interview that was published in Italian two weeks before his death at the age of 85.

Martini talks about three tools to recommend against the exhaustion of the church: conversion (of the church), the Word of God (perceived in the heart of the listener), and the sacraments: the tool of healing.

The sacraments are not an instrument of discipline, but a help for people in their journey and in the weaknesses of their life. Are we carrying the sacraments to the people who need new strength? I think of all the divorced and remarried couples, to extended families. They need special protection. The church upholds the indissolubility of matrimony. It’s a grace when a marriage and a family succeed …

The attitude we hold towards extended families determines the ability of the church to be close to their children. A woman, for instance, is abandoned by her husband and finds a new companion, who takes care of her and her three children. This second love succeeds. If this family is discriminated against, not only is the mother cut out [from the church] but also her children. If the parents feel like they’re outside the church, and don’t feel its support, the church will lose the future generation.

Before communion, we pray: “Lord, I am not worthy …’ We know we’re not worthy … Love is a grace. Love is a gift. The question of whether the divorced can receive communion ought to be turned around. How can the church reach people who have complicated family situations, bringing them help with the power of the sacraments?

The BBC had a larger article on the passing of Cardinal Martini.


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The first two questions and answers should give us all pause…

How do you see the situation of the church? “The church is tired, in the Europe of well-being and in America. Our culture has become old, our churches and our religious houses are big and empty, the bureaucratic apparatus of the church grows, our rites and our dress are pompous. Do these things, however, express what we are today? … Well-being weighs on us. We find ourselves like the rich young man who went away sad when Jesus called him to be his disciple. I know that we can’t let everything go easily. At least, however, we can seek people who are free and closest to their neighbor, like Archbishop Romero and the Jesuit martyrs of El Salvador. Where are the heroes among us who can inspire us? By no means do we have to limit them by the boundaries of the institution.”

Who can help the church today? “Father Karl Rahner often used the image of the embers hidden under the ash. I see in the church today so much ash under the embers that often I’m hit with a sense of impotence. How can we liberate the embers from the ash, to reinvigorate the fires of love? For the first thing, we have to seek out these embers. Where are the individuals full of generosity, like the Good Samaritan? Who have faith like the Roman centurion? Who are enthusiastic like John the Baptist? Who dare the new, like Paul? Who are faithful like Mary Magdalene? I advise the Pope and the bishops to seek out twelve people outside the lines for administrative positions, people who are close to the poorest, who are surrounded by young people, and who try new things. We need to be with people who burn in such a way that the Spirit can spread itself everywhere.”

It is telling about the nature of his denomination when we realize that he had to wait until he died before he could make this public. At least TEC is trying to address the problem openly and formally. What will we become, I wonder…

Kevin McGrane

Danny Berry

@ Peter Pearson: That image – making the circle bigger – is the Ministry of Reconciliation–which is Paul’s pithy rendering of the church’s job description. In fact, does the church have any other?

Donald Schell

I’m so glad to read this post here at Episcopal Cafe. I think it’s important to remember (hear and cherish) voices in the Roman Catholic church that make such good sense.

Peter Pearson

Thank God for the witness of this faithful man. Not to worry, Vatican II is alive and well in the Episcopal Church where the vision is still unfolding. We just keep making the circle bigger and that’s why I am proud to be an Episcopalian.

Bill Dilworth

What a different world this would be if he had been elected Pope in 2005. It’s ironic that, according to one article I saw, his Parkinson’s was considered to make him ineligible to succeed John Paul II, who had the same disease and whose diagnosis the Church denied for years.

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