The Catholic Church appears to have Mother Teresa on the fast track to becoming a saint. The nun known around the world for her work with the poor in India died in 1997, and the latest reports indicate that Pope Francis signed a decree that recognizes a miracle linked to her.
That would make the second miracle attributed to Mother Teresa, a necessary hurdle for canonization. The history of how the Catholic Church has granted sainthood, as well as Mother Teresa’s legacy, are just some ideas to pursue in a research paper.
It’s a miracle
News of the formal recognition of a second miracle attributed to Mother Teresa came courtesy of Avvenire, the official newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference. Edward Pentin posted for the National Catholic Register “Bl. Mother Teresa to Be Canonized After Pope Approves Miracle, Say Report” December 17, 2015, with more details. Pentin cited the columnist who wrote the Avvenire article as predicting Mother Teresa’s sainthood will happen in 2016—“the canonization will take place ‘in all likelihood’ on September 4, during the Holy Year of Mercy.”
Becoming a saint
There is a set process employed by the Catholic Church that a person must go through to become a saint. The person who starts the process is known as a postulator. This person has to present testimony and documentation of what makes someone worthy of canonization to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints. If that group agrees, the potential saint’s file moves to the pope, who has to sign a decree about the “heroic virtues” the person exemplified.
The next step according to a feature on December 19, 2015, in The New York Times “Questions and Answers About Mother Teresa and Making Saints” by The Associated Press stated, “If the postulator finds someone was miraculously healed by praying for the candidate’s intercession, and if the cure cannot be medically explained, the case is presented to the congregation as the possible miracle needed for beatification.” Sainthood is granted after a second miracle is attributed to the individual. An interesting research paper topic could look at the miracles that previous saints have performed throughout the history of the Catholic Church.
Mother Teresa and controversy
Becoming a saint for Mother Teresa appears to be happening faster than for most candidates. Despite this, the famed nun is not without controversy, particularly for donations she accepted from some unsavory types such as Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier, as well as British publisher and embezzler Robert Maxwell.
“The Silence of the Nuns: Missionaries Refuse to Get Drawn into Controversy over Mother Teresa” for The Hindustan Times March 16, 2015, quoted Mohan Bhagwat who “criticized Mother Teresa ‘for her rather dubious way of caring for the sick, her shady political contacts, her suspicious management of huge funds and donations, her alleged involvement in conversion and her dogmatic views on abortion, contraception and divorce’.”
There are more than 800 canonized saints in the Catholic Church, with more people becoming saints during Pope John Paul’s 25 years as pope than all the preceding popes combined. Pope Francis went even further canonizing a large group of 15th century martyrs, more than 800, who refused to convert to Islam and were beheaded as a result. Another research paper topic could explore the rise in the number of individuals granted sainthood in modern times.
Do you think Mother Teresa is becoming a saint too quickly? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.