Cardinal Martini of Milan to retire in February
Milan's liberal Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini - considered by some as a candidate for the papacy - has announced that he plans to retire next February and go to Jerusalem.
His announcement on Saturday is in keeping with the Code of Canon Law, which requires bishops to offer their resignation at age 75.
Referring to his retirement in his pastoral letter for 2001-2002, Cardinal Martini said "this is not just a formal act, but something useful to give impetus and an opening to new persons."
"I do not keep secret my desire, expressed to the Pope, to retire to Jerusalem to dedicate myself to prayer and the study of codes and manuscripts," the Jesuit cardinal revealed.
The archbishop, long considered to be a champion of the poor, caused surprise last year by a thinly veiled call for a Third Vatican Council to debate the need for greater collegiality. He questioned the authoritarian nature of the papacy and the Vatican hierarchy and urged the Church to re-examine its stand on sexual and social issues.
Before being named archbishop of Milan by John Paul II on Dec. 29, 1979, Cardinal Martini had been rector of the Pontifical Biblical Institute (1969-1978) and rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University (1978-1979).
Diocese of Milan
Liberal cardinal quits contest to be Pope