In a final interview before his death, the former archbishop of Milan and papal candidate Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini called the Catholic Church "200 years out of date."
Cardinal Martini, who died last Friday at the age of 85, revealed how he believed the church was failing to move with the times in an interview published on Saturday in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera.
"Our culture has aged, our churches are big and empty and the church bureaucracy rises up, our rituals and our cassocks are pompous," said Martini, according to Reuters.
"The Church must admit its mistakes and begin a radical change, starting from the pope and the bishops. The pedophilia scandals oblige us to take a journey of transformation," he said in the interview, which was conducted two weeks before his death.
The progressive Martini, who once famously said that the use of comments could be acceptable in some cases, said in the interview that the Church should be open to new kinds of families or risk losing followers.
"A woman is abandoned by her husband and finds a new companion to look after her and her children. A second love succeeds. If this family is discriminated against, not just the mother will be cut off but also her children."
Martini said this is how "the Church loses the future generation."
The cardinal, who was once favored by Vatican progressives to succeed Pope John Paul II, retired in 2002 after revealing he was suffering from a rare form of Parkinson's disease. Pope John Paul II was succeeded in 2005 by the conservative Pope Benedict XVI, who maintains a stern stance on theological issues.
Martini's final message was a warning to the Church to change without delay.
"The church is 200 years out of date. Why don't we rouse ourselves? Are we afraid?"
Thousands paid their respects to the much-loved cardinal at his coffin in Milan cathedral on Saturday
Here's a report on his death: