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Zenit 7/27/99

Archbishop of Calcutta Opens Diocesan Phase

ROME, JUL 27 (ZENIT).- Yesterday, Cardinal Henry D'Souza, Archbishop of Calcutta, officially opened the diocesan phase of Mother Teresa of Calcutta's beatification process; she died on September 5, 1997, at 87 years of age. The postulator is Canadian Fr. Brian Kolodiejchuk.

The founder of the Missionaries of Charity, who at present number 15,000 religious in 95 countries and live among the disinherited, lepers, and the terminally ill, was considered by many to be a saint in her lifetime. Innumerable people are devoted to her; there are continuous pilgrimages to her tomb and copious petition prayers recited. Miracles are also already attributed to her.

"Mother Teresa presented the Gospel without gloss; she proves that the Gospel works at the height of the 20th century," Archbishop Angelo Comastri of Loretto said, at a meeting dedicated to the religious.

Fr. Sebastian Vazhakala, co-founder of the male Missionaries of Charity, worked for 32 years with Mother Teresa, and will be one of the more than 100 witnesses in the process. "Without pressuring anyone, her life was an invitation to others, she involved them in a life of prayer and service," he said.

The Congregation for the Causes of Saints gave permission to begin the process before the end of the five-year period established by Canon Law. Cardinal D'Souza said that the first phase of the process, which includes the collection and study of documentation, will last at least three or four months. Additional testimonies will be heard in Rome and New York. All testimonies will eventually be examined at the Vatican. To the question, will Mother Teresa be a saint in 2000? Fr. Vazhakala replied: "Let's leave the time up to the Lord and allow the Church to respect the norms," Fr. Vazhakala replied.

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