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Carlo Maria Martini

Prince of Asturias Award for Social Sciences 2000

Carlo Maria Martini (Orbassano, Turin, 1927 – Gallarate, Lombardy, 2012) was a Jesuit, Cardinal of the Catholic Church and Archbishop Emeritus of Milan. In the current of changes of the post-council period, he followed the line marked by the Society of Jesus in more recent decades.

Carlo Maria Martini is considered Christianity's most important intellectual of twentieth-century. He joined the Company of Jesus in 1944 and was ordained a priest at the age of 25. He is a Doctor in Theology and graduate in Philosophy, and is considered a great scholar of the Holy Writ and a specialist in palaeographic critique of the New Testament. After a long period of teaching, during which he directed the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Jerusalem, in 1978 he became director of the Pontifical Gregorian University, founded by Ignatius of Loyola and considered one of the Catholic Church's most prestigious centres of intellect. In 1978, John Paul II appointed him to the archdiocese of Milan, the largest in Europe and one of the largest in the world, and in 1980 he rose to become a cardinal.

From this position, he was the protagonist of spectacular gestures, encouraging dialogue between atheists and believers from the outset, and supporting dialogue between religions, as well as travelling tirelessly all over the world. Considered on of the figures of greatest intellectual prestige within the Catholic Church, he published a book of correspondence between Umberto Eco and himself -"What do non-believers believe in? A dialogue on ethics for the end of the millennium" - where they exchange opinions on questions such as hope, the limitations of the woman's role in the Church, and so on.

He died on August 31, 2012.

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