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Milan Archbishop Eyes Jerusalem

September 9, 2001

VATICAN CITY (AP) _ An Italian cardinal frequently mentioned as a possible successor to Pope John Paul II suggested Saturday he wanted to leave his Milan archdiocese and devote himself to prayer in Jerusalem.

Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, a Jesuit biblical scholar who turns 75 next year, said in a pastoral letter that it may be time to move on. He is the archbishop of Milan.

``I want to go to Jerusalem because of a profound spiritual motivation, to dedicate myself to a life of prayer and study, and also to intervene for those who are suffering,″ he said.

Martini did not say when he might go, and it was unclear how moving to Jerusalem would affect his standing in the College of Cardinals, which selects popes. For years, he has been said to be ‘papabile,’ or possessing the qualifications to be a pope.

Martini’s veiled calls for change in the church under the conservative Pope John Paul II have made him a favorite of liberals, a minority in the College.

He has raised eyebrows at the Vatican for suggesting that the church needs to re-examine its stance on sexual issues and the reason for the shortage of priests, which some blame on mandatory celibacy.

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