VATICAN, May 29, 01 (FIDES/CWNews.com) -- The archbishop of Calcutta
has suggested that Mother Teresa could be beatified before the end
of this year-- although Vatican officials consider that prospect
Archbishop Henry Sebastian D'Souza of Calcutta told the Fides news
service, "I would not be at all surprised" if the founder of the
Missionaries of Charity were beatified this year. The archbishop has
already announced that the investigation of Mother Teresa' cause in
his archdiocese will soon be completed, and the results will be
conveyed to Rome.
At the Vatican, however, officials have indicated that the process is
not likely to move ahead so quickly. Ordinarily, a beatification occurs
no sooner than 12 years after the death of the individual. In the case
of Mother Teresa, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints-- with
the explicit approval of Pope John Paul II-- has waived the usual 5-
year waiting period before launching the process. Still, the careful
process by which the Church moves to confirm the sanctity of a
candidate for beatification is rarely rushed.
There is no doubt in Rome that Mother Teresa will soon be beatified.
The only question is the timing.
The Calcutta archdiocese will formally complete the local phase of the
investigation on August 15 of this year. The process now moves to
Rome, where a postulator for the cause will prepare a "positio"-- a
summary document on the life and spirituality of Mother Teresa. In
this stage, too, the cause of Mother Teresa may be moved ahead of
other causes. Ordinarily, a member of the Congregation for the Causes
of Saints disclosed to reporters, each new case must, in effect, "get in
line." But Pope John Paul-- along with thousands of Catholics around
the world-- has expressed a special interest in the speedy progress
of this cause.
Once the "positio" has been finished, the Congregation would produce
a formal judgment, to be ratified by the Pope, that Mother Teresa
had lived a life of "heroic virtue." Several miracles attributed to the
intercession of Mother Teresa have already been verified by the
Calcutta archdiocese, Archbishop D'Souza reported. Assuming that the
Vatican also verifies the authenticity of at least one miracle, that
would fulfill the next requirement for beatification.
Speaking to FIDES, the archbishop described the atmosphere in
Calcutta, the city whose name she bore and in which Mother Teresa
did so much of her work. "The people here have already made
Mother Teresa a saint in their hearts. They are now waiting with
great expectation and excitement for the Holy See to confirm
something they already believe: that she was a saintly woman, loved
also by non-Christians."
Archbishop D'Souza continued: "I am pleased that we have come to
the end of the diocesan process. I hope the Congregation will find
everything in order. Who knows--the beatification may even take
place before the end of the year! I would not be surprised. It all
depends on the work schedule of the Congregation and the Holy
Father's decision. I am sure that it will not take long for Mother to
"The life of Mother Teresa still inspires many people," the archbishop
added. "There is a regular flow of visitors who come to pray at her
burial place, at the House in Calcutta, where her Sisters welcome
young women from all over the world to share their daily life of
work and prayer. Mother's heritage is appreciated by believers of all
faiths: the value of every human person and the duty to care for the
needs of the poorest of the poor".
Mother Teresa died on September 5, 1997 at the age of 87. In 1972
she was awarded the Jawaahar Lal Nerhu prize given by the Indian
government for her solidarity and activity in aid of the poor. In 1979
she won the Nobel Peace Prize. Mother Teresa's spirit lives on in her
daughters, the Missionaries of Charity, an order she founded in 1950.
Today there are 4000 Sisters clad in their typical white and blue
saris working in hospitals, prisons, homes for the aged and the dying,
all over the world. The Order has 450 institutes of formation, 1,100
mobile medical units, more than 1000 feeding centers for the
undernourished and 670 homes for homeless people, drug addicts,
AIDS patients and the dying. Besides the Sisters, the Order has 400
Brothers and about 1,000 lay members.
"Our work has not changed," says Sister Nomita, an elderly nun who
was once a Hindu. "You will find us among the excluded, the poorest
of the poor. That is our place, today as yesterday and tomorrow."