Italian Cardinal Carlo Martini dies

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Italian Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, a liberal within the highly conservative Catholic Church hierarchy who was considered a papal contender in the last conclave, died Friday. He was 85.

Martini, a Jesuit and former archbishop of the important archdiocese of Milan, had been battling Parkinson's disease for several years.

He voiced openness to divisive issues for the church, such as using condoms to fight HIV/AIDS, priestly celibacy and homosexuality, which, showed his progressive bent.

He also was considered a possible contender in the 2005 conclave that brought the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, to the papacy.

Born on Feb. 15, 1927, in Turin, Martini was ordained a priest in the Society of Jesus in 1952. He was named archbishop of Milan in 1979 and held the post until his retirement in 2002; within that time, he was also head of the European Bishops' Conference for six years, until 1993.

A funeral was scheduled for Monday in Milan's cathedral.

-- AP

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