Carlo Maria Martini, SJ
Church positions
See Milan (Emeritus)
Title Archbishop Emeritus of Milan
Period in office 29 December 1979 — July 11, 2002
Successor Dionigi Tettamanzi
Previous post Professor
Created cardinal 2 February 1983
Date of birth February 15, 1927 (1927-02-15) (age 90)
Place of birth Turin, Italy
Styles of
Carlo Martini
CardinalCoA PioM
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal
See Milan (Emeritus)

Carlo Maria Martini, SJ (born 15 February 1927) is a Latin Rite Italian Cardinal of the Catholic Church. He was Archbishop of Milan from 1980 to 2002, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1983.

Early life and education

Carlo Maria Martini was born in Turin, Piedmont, to Leonardo an engineer and Olga (née Maggia) Martini, and was baptized on the following February 22. He was educated at istituto sociale a school run by Jesuit in Turin. He entered the Society of Jesus on September 25, 1944, and was ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal Maurilio Fossati on July 13, 1952. Martini completed his studies in philosophy at the Jesuits House of Studies in Gallarate, in the province of Milan, and theology at the faculty of theology in Chieri. In 1958, Dr Martini was awarded his Doctorate in Fundamental Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University, with a thesis exploring the problems of the Resurrection accounts. After some years of teaching at the faculty of Chieri he returned to Rome and earned another doctorate in Scripture at the Pontifical Biblical Institute, also summa cum laude, with a thesis on a group of codici of the Gospel of St. Luke.

Dr Martini remains a respected exegetical and theological scholar who has written more than 40 books, and is reputed to speak 11 languages.


After completing his studies Cardinal Martini quickly pursued a successful academic career. In 1962, he was given the Chair of Textual Criticism at the Pontifical Biblical Institute, a specialist Institute of the Gregorian and became its rector in 1969. In 1978, under Pope Paul VI he was elected the Pontifical Gregorian University's rector magnificus, serving in this post from 1969 to 1978, after which he was nominated chancellor of the Pontifical Gregorian University. Throughout these years he edited a number of scholarly works. Cardinal Martini also became active in the scientific field by publishing various books and articles. Furthermore the Cardinal received the distinuguished honour of being the only Catholic member of the ecumenical committee that prepared the new Greek edition of the New Testament. Martini is also very much remembered for his books on spiritual exercises which have added a renewed style to the original Ignatian model.

On 29 December 1979, Pope John Paul II appointed Martini Archbishop of Milan, receiving his episcopal consecration from the Pope himself the following 6 January, with Archbishop Eduardo Martínez Somalo and Bishop Ferdinando Maggioni serving as co-consecrators. Thus his first diocesan appointment was to one of the largest and most prominent sees. Upon elevation as a Cardinal Priest in the consistory of 2 February 1983, he was assigned the title of S. Cecilia.

Cardinal Martini served as Relator of the 6th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in 1983. Later serving as president of the European Bishops' Conference between 1987 and 1993.

Martini was admitted as Member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in November 2000, and renowned internationally. In 1996 Martini was presented with an honorary doctorate from the Russian Academy of Sciences. Furthermore, in Spain in October 2000 he was awarded the Prince of Asturias Award for Social Sciences.

In 2002 he reached the Church's mandatory retirement age of 75 and was succeeded in Milan by Dionigi Tettamanzi. At the time of the 2005 conclave, he was 78 years old and hence eligible to vote for the new pope (being under 80). For years many progressive Catholics harboured hopes that he might himself might eventually ascend the papacy. However, when John Paul II died, most commentators believed that his election was unlikely, given his liberal reputation and the fact of his suffering from Parkinson's disease. Nevertheless, according to La Stampa (an Italian newspaper), he obtained more votes than Joseph Ratzinger during the first round of the election, 40 vs. 38. Conversely, an anonymous cardinal diary stated that he never mustered more than a dozen or so votes, in contrast to another Jesuit cardinal, Jorge Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, and quickly withdrew his candidacy.[1]. Martini lost his right to vote in future conclaves upon turning age 80 on 15 February 2007.

After his retirement Martini moved to the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Jerusalem to continue his work as a biblical scholar.


Often considered to be one of the more liberal members of the College of Cardinals, and prelates in general, he has achieved widespread notice for his writings, earning him popularity in some circles, criticism in others. On occasion Martini's viewpoints have proven to be controversial, thus bringing him comparatively large amounts of media coverage.

Dominus Iesus

In 2000 he criticized the declaration Dominus Iesus and described the document as "theologically rather dense, peppered with quotations, and not easy to grasp". [2]


In April 2006, in response to a very specific question from physician and politician Ignazio Marino, director of the transplant center of the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, Martini opined that in certain cases, the usage of condoms might be allowable stating, "The use of condoms can, in certain situations, be a lesser evil".[3] He stressed the particular case of married couples where one has HIV or AIDS.[4] But he quickly noted that it's one thing the principle of the lesser evil in such cases, and quite another the subject who has to convey those things publicly, thus it is not up to the Church authorities to support condom use publicly, because of "the risk of promoting an irresponsible attitude". The Church is more likely to support other morally sustainable means, such as abstinence.[5] On another occasion the Cardinal also stated that "I believe the Church's teaching has not been expressed so well... I am confident we will find some formula to state things better, so that the problem is better understood and more adapted to reality," earning him a reputation for having a more liberal stance toward contraception.[6]

Beginning of human life

The Cardinal's position on the start of a distinct human life during the fertilization of oocytes was rebuked by certain Vatican officials.[7] Some of Martini's other positions may have frustrated Church leaders, but official response from the Roman Curia was limited.

Right to die

Cardinal Martini, speaking about the right to die debate said that "terminally ill patients should be given the right to refuse treatments and that the doctors who assist them should be protected by law."[8]

Collegiality of bishops

He has also called for greater collegiality in the governance of the Church. He has urged continued reflection on the structure and exercise of ecclesiatical authority. [9]

Role of women in the Church

He has demonstrated a desire for further theological enquiry on issues relating to human sexuality and the role of women in the Church. He has also expressed support for the ordination of female deacons.

Sacramentum Caritatis

In March 2007 he openly criticised the attitude of the Church authorities, whilst speaking at the basilica of the Nativity to a congregation of over 1,300 visitors, he remarked that "The Church does not give orders." Martini also stated that "It is necessary to listen to others, and when speaking to use terms that they understand." These remarks came days after Pope Benedict XVI published the 140 page apostolic exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis. Some interpreted this document as being an attempt to influence Catholic politicians, particularly at a time when Italian government was trying to pass legislation offering legal recognition of same sex unions.[10]

Social justice

Furthermore, he has also promoted combating social injustice, often calling for greater action to be taken in assisting immigrants and minorities. Martini wishes that the Church rekindle a "burning fire in the heart" of men and women today.

Catholic schools

Martini is also a stringent supporter of Catholic school and many times he spoke in favour of state contribution to Catholic school. He also said that one hour a week of teaching of Catholic religion in the Italian high school is not enough and the time dedicated to religious teaching in the school has to be increased.


External links

See also

Preceded by
Giovanni Colombo
Archbishop of Milan
1979 - 2002
Succeeded by
Dionigi Tettamanzi
ca:Carlo Maria Martiniid:Carlo Maria Martinila:Carolus Maria Martini

lmo:Carlu Maria Martinino:Carlo Maria Martinipt:Carlo Maria Martini ro:Carlo Maria Martini ru:Мартини, Карло Мария fi:Carlo Maria Martini sv:Carlo Maria Martini

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