15 March 2016
She died in 1997 – aged 87 – and was beatified in 2003, the first step to sainthood.
The Pope cleared the way for sainthood last year when he recognised a second miracle attributed to Mother Teresa.
Pope Francis recognises Mother Teresa’s second ‘miracle’
Born in 1910 to Albanian parents, Agnese Gonxha Bojaxhiu grew up in what is now the Macedonian capital, Skopje, but was then part of the Ottoman Empire.
Aged 19, she joined the Irish order of Loreto and in 1929 was sent to India, where she taught at a school in Darjeeling under the name of Therese.
In 1946 she moved to Kolkata to help the destitute and, after a decade, set up a hospice and a home for abandoned children.
She founded the Missionaries of Charity in 1950. The sisterhood now has 4,500 nuns worldwide.
She achieved worldwide acclaim for her work in Kolkata’s slums, but her critics accused her of pushing a hardline Catholicism, mixing with dictators and accepting funds from them for her charity.
Five years after her death, Pope John Paul II accepted a first miracle attributed to Mother Teresa as authentic, clearing the way for her beatification in 2003.
He judged that the curing of Bengali tribal woman Monica Besra from an abdominal tumour was the result of her supernatural intervention.
A Vatican commission found that her recovery had been a miracle after the Missionaries of Charity said that the woman had been cured by a photo of the nun being placed on her stomach. The finding was criticised as bogus by rationalist groups in Bengal.
In December 2015, Pope Francis recognised a second miracle, which involved the healing of a Brazilian man with several brain tumours in 2008. The man’s identity was not disclosed but the man was said to have been cured unexpectedly after his priest prayed for Mother Teresa’s intervention with God.
It often takes decades for people to reach sainthood after their death, but beatification was rushed through by Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis was known to be keen to complete the process during the Church’s Holy Year of Mercy which runs to November 2016.
In an unrelated move, the Pope last week introduced new financial rules governing the process of becoming a saint, in response to allegations that some candidates supported by wealthy donors were likely to have their cases resolved faster than others.
Under the regulations, an administrator must be named for each prospective saint and should “scrupulously respect” the intention of each donation as well as manage the funds donated.
The cost to the Vatican can be high during the “Roman phase” of the process, when the Congregation for the Causes of Saints investigates the candidate, and there have been claims that officials failed to oversee how some donations were spent.
Taken from: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-35809891
(Vatican Radio) Three years ago this Sunday (March 13th) Pope Francis, the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio from Argentina, stepped out onto the balcony of the Vatican Basilica. His election stunned the world.
Not only was he the first Pope from Latin America, he was also the first Jesuit Pope and the first ever to take the name of Francis.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, is the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales and Susy Hodges asked him to reflect on this papal anniversary and analyse the impact of Pope Francis’ papacy on the Church and review some of the highlights of these past three years.
Cardinal Nichols said that for him one surprising thing about Pope Francis is his “remarkable energy, his vibrant presentation of the gospel” and his “ability to maintain a very full, personal and heartfelt presence.” He said he believes the reason for this energy this can be found in the Pope’s deep relationship with the Lord.
“Nothing else could give a man of his age the kind of vitality and freshness that he’s sustained over these past three years.”
Cardinal Nichols goes on to describe how the Pope Francis’ fidelity to the Lord and his message, together with his concern for people, “especially those on the margins of society,” is what “captures and enthralls the world.”
“Not a reformation of the papacy”
When asked about ways in which Pope Francis has changed the papacy, Cardinal Nichols cautions that “this is not a reformation of the papacy” as some would have us believe. He said there’s a “great continuity among the Popes, along with “a freshness” and “difference” with each new incumbent.
Turning to the question of what challenges face the Church, the English cardinal singled out the Pope’s desire to “galvanise” the Church around this Jubilee Year of Mercy, describing this as “an enduring challenge” to make the theme of mercy “a real central characteristic of Catholic life.”
“That’s the biggest challenge he sets us,” said Cardinal Nichols.
On Sunday Pope Francis expressed his closeness to the Missionaries of Charity, founded by Mother Teresa of Calcutta, at the killing of four of their sisters in Aden, the port city of Yemen, on March 4. Departing from his prepared text, he hailed these sisters who were caring for the elderly in this war stricken land as “the martyrs of our day” and said, “they were killed by their attackers, but also by the globalization of indifference.”
His words about “the globalization of indifference” are understood to refer not only to the general indifference to the attacks on Christians in this region but also to the great indifference of the international community to the year-long civil war in this impoverished country, which has brought it to the brink of catastrophe. The previous day he expressed the hope that “this pointless slaughter will awaken consciences, lead to a change of heart and inspire all parties to lay down their arms and take up the path of dialogue.”
One of martyred sisters, Sister Anselm, was from India; the other three were from Africa: Sisters Margherite and Reginette from Rwanda and Sister Judith from Kenya. “Their names do not appear on the front page of the newspapers, but they gave their blood for the church,” Francis stated.
“I pray for them and for the other persons killed in the attack, and for their family members,” he added. He prayed that Mother Teresa—whom he will declare a saint in September—“may accompany into paradise these here daughters, martyrs of charity, and intercede for peace and the sacred respect of human life.”
On Saturday, March 5, the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, sent a message on the pope’s behalf, saying the Holy Father “sends the assurance of his prayers for the dead and his spiritual closeness to their families and to all affected from this act of senseless and diabolical violence.”
He said the pope “prays that this pointless slaughter will awaken consciences, lead to a change of heart, and inspire all parties to lay down their arms and take up the path of dialogue.”
He issued a strong appeal from Pope Francis for an end to the ongoing violence in Yemen, saying that “in the name of God, he calls upon all parties in the present conflict to renounce violence, and to renew their commitment to the people of Yemen, particularly those most in need, whom the Sisters and their helpers sought to serve.”
The killing of these four sisters brings to a total of seven the number of Missionaries of Charity who have died as martyrs in this land, on the southern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, over the past two decades. In 1998, three other sisters—Zelia and Aletta (India) and Michael (the Philippines)—were killed at Hodeida, another city in this war-torn land where Catholics count for a mere 3,000 faithful (migrant workers) in a population of some 25 million people. In 1973, Mother Teresa was invited to open a mission in the country by the then government of North Yemen. She agreed but asked that they could also have priests. Her request was granted and the Salesian order provided the priests, and five of them are living in the country today.
One of the priests, the only Catholic priest in Aden, Fr. Thomas Uzhunnali, from Kerala, India, was living with the sisters in this building at the time of the attack, since his parish residence was destroyed last September. He was praying in the chapel of the retirement home when the killers arrived, and was taken away by them, according to the mother superior of the community of Missionaries of Charity in Aden who, press reports say, managed to hide and so avoided being killed in the attack. It is not known what happened to him.
The Holy See and the Republic of the Yemen, an Islamic state, established diplomatic relations in October 1998, and it was hoped then that this would guarantee some protection to the tiny Christian community there and make it possible for them to carry out their mission, such as that done by the Missionaries of Charity in caring for the elderly and the disabled. In the civil war, however, even the poorest and those who serve them have little protection.
In 2011 Yemen experienced the Arab Spring protests, along with Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, Libya and Syria. Worried that these could spill out of control or even beyond its borders, the BBC reports that Yemen’s Gulf Arab neighbors brokered a deal that saw longstanding President Ali Abdullah Saleh deposed and replaced by President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi.
Mr. Saleh remained in the country, however, and in 2014, threw his support behind a rebellion by the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, enabling them to march almost unopposed into the capital, Sanaa. By January 2015, the U.N.-recognized President Hadi had lost power and fled into exile in Saudi Arabia. By March 2015, the Shiite rebels had taken over the whole of western Yemen, where the bulk of the population is concentrated.
According to the BBC, the Saudis and their Gulf Arab allies saw this as an Iranian takeover, and fearing that Iran was about to seize control of the port city of Aden and the strategic entrance to the Red Sea, through which thousands of ships pass each year, they formed a nine-nation coalition. In March 2015, the Saudis began a massive campaign of airstrikes, targeting both the rebels and the units loyal to Mr. Saleh, but by December 2015 the Shiite Houthis still remained firmly embedded in the capital and much of the north.
Today, the Shiite Houthi rebels control the northern region but are being hit hard by Saudi-led airstrikes. The Saudi-backed internationally-recognized government controls the southern region, but there is great instability here too. Yemen effectively has two capitals—Sanaa and Aden—as the country continues to be trapped in a war that neither side seems to be winning. Aden descended into lawlessness after the Saudi-led coalition recaptured this key city from the Shiite rebels last summer, but both Al Qaida and the Islamic State are now active there.
At the end of last year, the BBC reported that Yemen’s basic infrastructure was shattered, its economy was grinding to a halt, and at least 80 percent of the population was dependent on food aid. Peace talks opened in Switzerland last December but so far have not managed to end this civil conflict in which Saudi Arabia and Iran are deeply engaged.
Already the poorest country in the Arab world, with ever-decreasing oil and water reserves, Yemen is now facing catastrophe according to the United Nations: 21.2 million people need some form of humanitarian assistance, around 6,000 people have been killed, and 2.4 million people have been displaced from their homes. Human rights organizations say both sides are responsible for atrocities in this impoverished but strategically important land where the tussle for power has serious implications for the region and the security of the West. The U.N. Security Council needs to intervene, but that is not happening. The globalization of indifference still reigns supreme, and people die.