May 30, 2001
volume 12, no. 133

Beatification This Year for Mother Teresa?

    VATICAN, May 29, 01 (FIDES/ -- The archbishop of Calcutta has suggested that Mother Teresa could be beatified before the end of this year-- although Vatican officials consider that prospect unlikely.

    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 reached sainthood."

    "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."

May 30, 2001
volume 12, no. 133
News from the Universal Church
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