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Mother Teresa sainthood considered

Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa died in 1997  

VATICAN CITY -- The fight to make Mother Teresa of Calcutta a saint has been brought before the Vatican.

Thirty-five thousand pages of documents attesting to the virtues and shortcomings of Mother Teresa have arrived in Monsignor Robert Sarno's office on Vatican square.

In one of the most detailed cases of sainthood brought before the Vatican, Sarno, an official whose job it is to make saints, had to order the investigation to be closed because of the enormous amount of evidence in the case.

Over 100 witness have testified about her life of charity -- far more than in most cases.

Sarno, of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, told CNN: "With Mother Teresa as with any other cause, you are looking to see what God is saying to the church, what God is saying to the world through the individual ... through Mother Teresa."

The Catholic church believes the lives of saints can set an example for believers, showing them how ordinary people do extraordinary things for their faith.

Pope John Paul II has beatified, the first step on the road to sainthood, more than 1,200 believers -- more than all of his predecessors put together. He has tried to establish new saints in as many lands as possible to bring them closer to believers.

The Pope also streamlined the procedures for making saints. As a consequence, filing cabinets at the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints are overflowing with proposed candidates for sainthood.

"We have seen all different kinds of people from different walks of life, from different professions, from different backgrounds from different histories attaining canonisation -- a kind of assurance to us that no matter who we are or where we find ourselves we can attain holiness," Sarno said.

Catholics believe saints can intercede on the behalf of believers to win favours from heaven, grant them protection or even work miracles.

Since Mother Teresa's death in 1997, six people have come forward to say prayers to her have led to miraculous cures.

At least one miracle must be proved to a medical committee before she can be beatified. A second miracle must be proved before she can become a saint.

The miracle that will most likely be attempted to be proved involves a Bengali woman who says her life-threatening tumour disappeared within days of her prayers to Mother Teresa.

In recent years, changes in the rules for sainthood have eliminated the so-called "devil's advocate" -- a churchman officially charged with challenging the evidence on proposed saints. But it is still required that all documentation, pro or con, must be considered.

In Mother Teresa's case, evidence was found she had a feeling God had deserted her.

Father Brian Kolodiejchuk, Mother Teresa's Postulator, told CNN: "No one would have ever guessed that was going on ... It was something like sharing in the pain and abandonment of Jesus on the cross when he said 'My god, My god why have you forsaken me?'"

Despite the world acclaim Mother Teresa received for her good works among the poor and dying, when it comes time to decide on her sainthood even the opinions of her detractors will be considered.

Some believe it is only proper if one is to create a balanced picture of Mother Teresa's, her flawed character must be examined.

But Sarno said it is not necessary to be perfect to become a saint. "Only God is perfect. A saint tries to reach and attain that perfection."

• Mother Teresa
• Vatican Online
• Catholic Online

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