August 31, 2012. (Romereports.com)
Italian Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini died in Varese, in northern Italy, at 85 years of age. For 16 years he suffered from Parkinson's disease.
He is largely remembered for his work in reaching out to nonbelievers and lapsed Catholics. He was also the rector of the Gregorian University in Rome when, in 1979, John Paul II appointed him as Archbishop of Milan. During the 22 years he was there, he was constantly referred to as a possible candidate for pope.
Despite suffering from Parkinson's, he participated in the most recent conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI.
He was passionate about the Bible, which is why he chose to live in Jerusalem until his illness became worse. At a conference in Rome, he said that he was devoting his last years to reconciliation.
Card. Carlo Maria Martini
“We need to be in the middle and work to cease all violence and learn to understand each others pain also. That is why I decided to spend most of my time in Jerusalem. I've marked as priority intercessory prayer, in the etymological sense of the word: to intercede, to walk through without giving or taking any reason, not to say that one side is more right than another. Walking between in prayer, prayer of intercession for the people of the Middle East, especially Jews and Palestinians, is the way to find mutual trust and dialogue.”
Pope Benedict XVI received constant updates on the situation of the cardinal. He passed away with family and friends at his bedside. He was also remembered by the media as one of the biggest promoters of dialogue between the Church and the modern world.
With his death, the college of cardinals is reduced to 206 members. Of these, only 118 are under 80, making them eligible to participate in an eventual conclave.