Cardinal Martini's Farewell Letter to Milan

Thanks Pope, and Requests Warm Welcome for Successor

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MILAN, Italy, JULY 11, 2002 ( Cardinal Carlo Martini left three messages to his faithful as his resignation from the leadership of the Archdiocese of Milan became official.

One message was an expression of gratitude to the Pope; another, an invitation to welcome his successor; and the third, a request for forgiveness.

The messages are part of a farewell letter published today [see], after the Vatican Press Office announced the appointment of Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi as the new archbishop of Milan.

Cardinal Martini presented his resignation Feb. 15, his 75th birthday.

«I am extremely grateful to the Holy Father for having accepted my resignation, which I presented to him not only because I have reached the age limit, but also because of the inevitable limitations of energy and health, as well as the opportunity for a change and a renewal for the good of the diocese, after more than 22 years of episcopate,» Cardinal Martini explained.

«Your faith and your charity, [and] in particular that of my closest collaborators and of all those who have been close to me with fidelity and prayer, have made my task, although highly grave and arduous, ‘an easy yoke and a light burden,'» the cardinal said.

«Once again I ask for God’s forgiveness, and yours, for all my faults, while I keep you more present than ever in my prayer and in my heart,» he concluded.

Carlo Martini, born in Turin in 1927, entered the Society of Jesus in 1944. An eminent biblicist, he was appointed rector of the Pontifical Biblical Institute of Rome in 1969. In 1978 he became rector of the Gregorian University.

John Paul II appointed him archbishop of Milan in 1979, and made him a cardinal in 1983.

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