ROME — Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, a retired Milan archbishop who was once seen as a strong bet to become pontiff, has died. He was 83.

The Milan diocese said the Italian prelate died Saturday after deteriorating health.

When Pope John Paul II died in 2005, many Vatican experts said that Tettamanzi had an excellent chance of becoming pontiff. But another theologian, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, was elected and became Pope Benedict XVI.

John Paul frequently consulted with Tettamanzi, a theologian with generally moderate views, but who staunchly backed the late pope’s teaching against abortion and euthanasia.

When Tettamanzi was Genoa’s archbishop, he boldly questioned globalization’s benefits for the working class as that port city hosted world leaders for the Group of Eight summit in 2001.

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