Milan mourns cardinal who dared to challenge Rome
The great and the good filed into Milan's famous gothic cathedral yesterday afternoon for the funeral mass of Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, one of the church's best-loved figures. Pope Benedict XVI wasn't one of them, however. Cardinal Angelo Comastri, the head priest of St Peter's Basilica, represented the pontiff.
The deeply conservative Benedict would have read, like everyone else, the liberal Cardinal Martini's scathing verdict on the church and its current leadership, which he described as "200 years out of date". In his message relayed by Cardinal Comastri, the Pope nonetheless expressed his "closeness in affection and prayer to the entire diocese of Milan, the Jesuits and the relatives and all those who had loved and admired Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini".
In terms of like-minded theologians, Cardinal Martini was thought to have had few friends inside the Vatican. But among ordinary people – thousands of whom stood outside under grey skies to watch the ceremony on two giant TV screens – his standing was enormous.
These people were quick to praise of the former Archbishop of Milan, who died on Friday, aged 85.
"He was always ahead of the rest of the church," said Michele Novaga, an aid worker.
"I think he probably understood that the people wanted another sort of church."
Elisabetta Grassi, a secretary, said: "I'm not really very religious, but I think he was a great man – and he commanded respect and admiration from people who were not church-goers. That's because he sought to include people and care about them, regardless of their background."
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...