Italian Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini has described the Roman Catholic Church as being "200 years behind" the times.
The cardinal died on Friday, aged 85.
Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera has published his last interview, recorded in August, in which he said: "The Church is tired... our prayer rooms are empty."
Martini, once tipped as a future pope, urged the Church to recognise its errors and to embark on a radical path of change, beginning with the Pope.
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Thousands of people have been filing past his coffin at Milan's cathedral, where he was archbishop for more than 20 years.
The cardinal, who had retired from the post in 2002, suffering from Parkinson's Disease, is to be buried on Monday.
Martini, a popular figure with liberal stances on many issues, commanded great respect from both Pope John Paul II and his successor Pope Benedict XVI.
The cardinal - a member of the Jesuit religious order - was often critical in his writings and comments on Church teaching, says the BBC's David Willey in Rome.
He was a courageous and outspoken figure during the years he headed Europe's largest Catholic diocese, our correspondent says.
Cardinal Martini gave his last interview to a fellow Jesuit priest, Georg Sporschill, and to a journalist at the beginning of August when he knew his death was approaching.