Will process of sainthood be hastened for Mother Teresa?
September 13, 1997
Web posted at: 1:04 p.m. EDT (1704 GMT)
From Rome Bureau Chief Gayle Young
ROME (CNN) -- Now that Roman Catholic nun Mother Teresa has
died, many people feel the selfless and compassionate woman
should be declared a saint -- and soon.
But the road to sainthood often takes decades, if not
centuries, as the Catholic Church ponders whether a candidate
was holy enough to earn the special title.
Because of her tireless work with the poor and others
discarded by society, many people considered Mother Teresa a
"living saint" during her lifetime.
"In Mother Teresa's case, I think it's a person that was
representing and working for people who are forgotten by
society," said U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican Raymond Flynn.
"That is the reason she will have a very special place as a
saint, in being a saint of the poor."
Pope valued Mother Teresa's work
Pope John Paul II, who greatly admired Mother Teresa and her
work, is likely to carefully consider the call for her
canonization. The pontiff has declared a record number of
saints in his years as head of the Catholic Church.
Since assuming the papacy in 1978, he has canonized 278
people and beatified 768. Both numbers exceed those of all
other popes this century put together.
Traditionally, saints have been European, but in recent years
the Vatican also has declared saints from Africa, South
America and Asia.
While some of the pope's choices for sainthood have been
controversial, Mother Teresa is almost universally seen as an
Process of sainthood a lengthy one
But even so, the Vatican cannot declare her a saint overnight. There must be an investigation into her life,
which normally begins five years after death. In addition,
there must be proof that she is responsible for at least one
A likely candidate is then "beatified," which means people
may pray to the person and ask he or she to intervene with
God on their behalf. Beatification reflects the pope's
declaration that a deceased person is in heaven and is worthy
Canonization, or full sainthood, follows after an
undetermined number of years. The Vatican may consider
speeding up the process for Mother Teresa, but Archbishop
John P. Foley told CNN that this kind of accelerated
procedure was normally not done.
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A CNN/Time poll of Americans showed 51 percent want the
church to follow the standard procedure for canonization,
even it means Mother Teresa will not be declared a saint for
a century of more.
In her lifetime, the nun was internationally admired for her
selfless commitment to lead a simple life. She often said
that the poor gave her more than she could ever give them.
Because of these qualities, many Catholics want to formally
give her the title she shunned on Earth: Saint Teresa.
Mother Teresa special section