VATICAN CITY - Italian Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, 85, a rare liberal within the highly conservative Catholic Church hierarchy who was nevertheless considered a papal contender in the last conclave, died Friday.
Cardinal Martini, a Jesuit and former archbishop of the Archdiocese of Milan, had been battling Parkinson's disease. His death at a Jesuit institute in Gallarate was announced by the Milan archdiocese.
Cardinal Martini frequently voiced openness to discuss divisive issues for the church, such as priestly celibacy, homosexuality, and using condoms to fight HIV transmission. While not at odds with church teaching, his views showed his progressive bent. He was an intellectual and a noted biblical scholar, yet he had a warm and personable style and seemed to connect with his flock like few high-ranking prelates.