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Mother Teresa Sainthood Moves Forward Next Month

Religion News Service, USA
Sep. 13, 2003 • Tuesday September 16, 2003

The Vatican, possibly at the urging of Pope John Paul II, reportedly considered taking the unprecedented step of declaring Mother Teresa blessed and a saint in a single ceremony.

Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican secretary of state, made the proposal in a letter sent in late spring to cardinals who head Vatican departments, Italian news agencies reported this week. The reaction, however, was negative.

Although the pope has the power to act on his own initiative, he apparently was reluctant to reject the cardinals’ advice. It was unclear whether he gave up on the idea or delayed making a final decision.

John Paul will beatify Mother Teresa on Oct. 19 at a Mass in St. Peter’s Square, climaxing a week of celebrations of the 25th anniversary of his election as pope on Oct. 16, 1978. To declare her a saint at the same time would break with almost five centuries of tradition.

As it is, the widely admired nun, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 for ministering to “the poorest of the poor,” will be beatified in record time — little more than six years after her death on Sept. 5, 1997, at the age of 87.

To speed up Mother Teresa’s cause, the pope waived the normal five-year interval between a death and the start of the process. He also permitted the examination of a “scientifically unexplainable” miracle attributed to Mother Teresa’s intervention to be carried out at the same time as the investigation into her “heroic virtues.”

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