DAILY CATHOLIC     TUESDAY     March 2, 1999     vol. 10, no. 42

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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          VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- Pope John Paul II has set aside canonical rules in order to allow the immediate opening of the cause for the beatification of Mother Teresa.

          Under norms established in 1983, a "cause"-- the process that can lead to beatification and eventual canonization-- cannot begin until five years have lapsed from the death of the individual involved. But for the first time since the adoption of those rules, the Holy Father has used his authority to dispense with them, in the case of the nun whose work with "the poorest of the poor" made her a revered figure throughout the world.

          In an official statement released March 1, the Holy See announced that the process toward beatification for Mother Teresa had been opened "at the insistence of the Archbishop of Calcutta, Henry Sebastian D'Souza, and many other prelates." So the process for Mother Teresa's beatification has begun, with a diocesan inquiry in Calcutta.

          The announcement provoked some surprise in Rome, since the Pope had previously indicated that the cause of Mother Teresa would follow the usual pattern. During an interview with reporters on an airplane flight to Brazil in October 1997, just weeks after Mother Teresa's death, he had said that the cause could not begin until the year 2002, under the terms of the apostolic constitution Divinus Perfectionibus Magister, which he himself had promulgated on January 25, 1983.

          On the other hand, when he visited India as the Pope's personal representative at Mother Teresa's funeral, Cardinal Angelo Sodano said that the process toward beatification would probably move quickly. And Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had observed that "there are cases so clear that the ordinary procedure can be rapid." In the case of Mother Teresa, whose life was "so splendid in everyone's eyes," Cardinal Ratzinger said, "a long process will not be necessary."

          When would a beatification be likely? Ordinarily, a diocesan inquiry itself takes at least a year, and the Vatican-- whose Congregation for the Causes of Saints already has a long backlog of pending cases-- ordinarily takes another 10 years or more to investigate the candidate, issue a decree affirming that the individual lived a life of "heroic virtue," and then await the official recognition of a miracle attributed to the candidate's intercession. However, since the cause for Mother Teresa has already been speeded by an unprecedented papal intervention, it may be foolish to apply the ordinary rules to this case.

Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales. Both CWN and NE are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provides this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

March 2, 1999       volume 10, no. 42


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