VATICAN CITY, AUG. 31, 2012 ( Benedict XVI sent a message to the archbishop of Milan offering condolences upon the death of Cardinal Carlo Martini, who passed today at age 85.

The cardinal had been ill with Parkinson's for some years.

The Holy Father noted how the cardinal lived his lengthy illness "in serenity of soul and trustful abandonment to the will of the Lord."

He assured his own "deep participation" in the sorrow of those mourning the Torino native.

Carlo Martini was ordained a priest of the Society of Jesus in 1952, when he was 25 years old. He served as archbishop of Milan from 1979 until his retirement in 2002; he was named a cardinal in 1983.

The Pontiff said he thinks "fondly of this dear brother who generously served the Gospel and the Church. I remember with gratitude his intense apostolic work, which he generously carried out as a zealous religious and spiritual son of St. Ignatius, an exceptional teacher, authoritative biblical scholar and esteemed rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University and the Pontifical Biblical Institute, and then as a diligent and wise archbishop of this Ambrosian Archdiocese. I also think of the competent and fervent service he rendered to the Word of God, by opening to the ecclesial community the treasures of sacred Scripture, especially through the promotion of lectio divina."

The Pope assured his prayers so that God "might welcome His faithful servant and noble shepherd into the heavenly Jerusalem."

Lover of Scripture

Benedict XVI's secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, was among other Church leaders who sent messages of condolence.

"In my own name, and on behalf the Secretariat of State and the entire Roman Curia, I wish to express my deepest condolences to the Ambrosian Archdiocese, to the Society of Jesus, and to family and friends for the loss of His Eminence Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, who as a faithful son of St. Ignatius of Loyola, bore witness to and taught the primacy of the spiritual life, as well as attentive listening to man in his various existential and social conditions," Cardinal Bertone's message said.

He also recalled the cardinal as "an expert in and lover of sacred Scripture, which he taught all those who make up the People of God to know and to ponder, as well as so many persons who seek the truth."

"We entrust his chosen soul to God, that He might welcome him into His Kingdom of light and peace," Cardinal Bertone concluded.