Mother Teresa of Calcutta will be made a saint on Sept. 4. Pope Francis made the announcement on March 15 during a meeting with Catholic cardinals, which also saw four others approved for sainthood this year.
Pope Francis has approved new rules to tighten financial oversight of the canonization process after leaked documents revealed abuses and high costs in creating saints. The new measures focus on how the Holy See handles applications for sainthood, which can be a lengthy and expensive process that involves examining claims made by supporters of a would-be saint.
Pope Francis said four nuns executed by gunmen in Yemen at a home where they cared for elderly and disabled residents are “today’s martyrs.” His remarks on March 6 about the brutal killings in the increasingly lawless country on the Arabian Peninsula came a day after he decried the “diabolical violence” that claimed the lives of a dozen others at the Catholic-run facility in the Red Sea port of Aden.
Pope Francis has given final clearance for Mother Teresa — called “the saint of the gutters” for her work with the poor in India — to become an official saint, a move welcomed by the archbishop of Calcutta as “a real Christmas gift” from the pontiff.
Francis took the step by signing a decree declaring that the inexplicable 2008 recovery of a Brazilian man who suddenly woke from a coma caused by a viral brain infection was due to the intercession of the Albanian nun, who died in 1997.
The Vatican has announced that Pope Francis will canonize Mother Teresa in September 2016, according to Gerard O’Connell with America magazine.
Known for her zealous commitment to serving the poor, Teresa of Calcutta’s beatification process was one of the shortest in modern history, and was completed on Oct. 19, 2003, by Pope John Paul II — just six years after she died in 1997.
Last spring, I heard a terrific talk from Shane Claiborne at the Festival of Faith & Writing. Claiborne, a prominent voice in progressive Christian circles, lives in Philadelphia’s inner city, where he and the other inhabitants of the Simple Way community practice a “new monasticism.”
They value hospitality and communal living, seek to build relationships with those living in their neighborhood, and are concerned with issues around poverty and wealth, power and violence. From the descriptions I’ve read, the Simple Way practices similar values to the Church of the Saviour in Washington, D.C., where I worshiped for most of my 20s. The Church of the Saviour had the unusual distinction of taking both Jesus and social justice seriously. It was a community in which I was comfortable speaking like an evangelical, while voting and approaching social issues like an Episcopalian.
Listening to Claiborne speak back in April about justice and love and how our stories illuminate God’s kingdom, I felt at home. Here was the kind of guy I used to worship with in my earnest urban-dwelling days. His message, his words, and his stories felt intimate, familiar, and inspiring.
That is, except for this one story...
On Sept. 5, 1997, the world mourned when Mother Teresa, whose work with the poorest of the poor made her a global icon, died of a heart ailment at age 87.
Exactly 10 years later, the world did a double take, when a volume of Teresa's private letters revealed that the tireless, smiling nun spent the last 39 years of her life in internal agony. Jesus, she wrote, no longer seemed present to her, in prayer or even in the Eucharist. In letter after tormented letter she described an unrelenting spiritual "dryness,” a "torturing pain." Her smile was "a big cloak" of deception. She admitted at one point to doubting God's existence. Eventually she apparently became more reconciled to her condition; but as far as we know, she died with it.
"My father was born by a river bed and left to die. My mother grew up in extreme poverty. They made it. I am their story, they inspire me!" These are the words of my new friend Rudo, an amazing young woman from Zimbabwe who has come through so much and has now been chosen to be one of a thousand ambassadors of the Make Poverty History Road Trip who next week are acting to make history.