World Europe 05 Sep 2016 India celebrates ‘ ...

India celebrates ‘blessed’ Mother

AGENCIES
Published Sep 5, 2016, 2:10 am IST
Updated Sep 5, 2016, 6:22 am IST
Ahead of 19th death anniversary, world cherishes Saint Teresa of Calcutta, ‘dispenser of mercy’.
Tourists click photos in front of Mother’s House in Kolkata on Sunday during the canonization ceremony of Mother Teresa. (Photo: PTI)
 Tourists click photos in front of Mother’s House in Kolkata on Sunday during the canonization ceremony of Mother Teresa. (Photo: PTI)

Vatican City: Pope Francis on Sunday proclaimed Mother Teresa a saint and hailed the revered Catholic nun as an embodiment of maternal love.

Queen Sofia of Spain and around 1,500 homeless people also looked on as Pope Francis described Teresa’s work in the slums of Kolkata as “eloquent witness to God’s closeness to the poorest of the poor”.

 

To applause, he added: “Mother Teresa loved to say, ‘perhaps I don’t speak their language but I can smile’. Let us carry her smile in our hearts.” Candles and flowers were laid on Teresa’s tomb at the headquarters of her order in the Indian metropolis she is so closely associated with.

Lighting a candle, Konica Cecilia said Mother Teresa had given her impoverished parents money to help them send her to school. “I was fortunate to meet Mother. She was a living saint and an inspiration to me,” the 32-year-old said. “My memories of her comfort me when I am in trouble.”

 

Pope Francis also used his sermon to recall Mother Teresa’s fervent opposition to abortion, which she termed “murder by the mother” in a Nobel Peace prize speech in 1979.

She “ceaselessly proclaimed that the unborn are the weakest”, he said. With the 16th century basilica of St Peter’s glinting in the late summer sun, Francis led a ritual mass that has barely changed for centuries.

Speaking in Latin, he declared “blessed Teresa of Calcutta (Kolkata) to be a Saint... decreeing that she is to be venerated as such by the whole Church.”Among those in the front rows at the mass were 1,500 people from shelters run by the Italian branches of Teresa’s order. Later, they were Francis’s guests for a giant pizza lunch served by nuns and priests. Three years ago a study by academics at the University of Montreal said the Vatican had brushed aside Mother Teresa’s “rather dubious way of caring for the sick, her questionable political contacts, her suspicious management of the enormous sums of money she received, and her overly dogmatic views regarding … abortion, contraception and divorce”.

 

Teresa spent all her adult life in India, first teaching, then tending to the dying poor for decades before her death in 1997. As the, the head of her now worldwide order, Teresa became one of the most famous women on the planet.

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