The former archbishop of Milan and papal candidate warned in his last interview that the Roman Catholic Church was left “200 years behind.”
Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, who was once regarded as a possible successor to Pope John Paul II, died on Friday at the age of 85 because of Parkinson’s disease.
"The Church has been left 200 years behind. Why doesn't it rouse itself? Are we afraid?" Cardinal Martini said in an interview conducted by a fellow Jesuit before his death.
“Our culture has aged, our churches are big and empty and the church bureaucracy rises up; our rituals and our cassocks are pompous,” the prominent cardinal said in the interview issued on Saturday in Italian daily Corriere della Sera
The cardinal also said that the Vatican “must admit its mistakes and begin a radical change, starting from the pope and bishops.” Otherwise the church would lose face among the next generations, he added.
“The pedophilia scandals oblige us to take a journey of transformation,” he added.
Cardinal Martini also called on Pope Benedict XVI to begin an immediate shake up of the institution.
The cardinal, who is known as one of the most progressive voices in the Roman Catholic Church, was archbishop of Milan until 2002, when he retired after being diagnosed with Parkinson disease.
His funeral ceremony is scheduled to be held on Monday.
Over the past years, a large number of scandals including sex abuse involving Roman Catholic priests have surfaced. The pope has been accused of seeking to cover up the scandals.