Catholic World News News Feature
Make Mother Teresa's beatification a national event, Church asks Indian regime August 22, 2003
Catholic Church officials called on India's Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee Friday, asking him to make the October19 beatification of Mother Teresa a "national event."
Led by Archbishop Vincent Concessao of Delhi, the vice-president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI), a four-man CBCI delegation submitted a memorandum to the prime minister, spelling out nine proposals for a nationwide observance.
The bishops' suggestions include sending an official government delegation to the beatification ceremony in Vatican and broadcasting the ceremony live over the government-controlled national national television network. To commemorate the occasion, the Indian Church has also urged the government to set up a national foundation in Mother Teresa's name to support orphanages and homes for the destitute across India, and to institute a "national award for best social worker" in honor of Mother Teresa.
Known as the "saint of the gutters" in her lifetime, Mother Teresa had been honored with the Nobel peace prize in 1979 and India's Bharat Ratna (Jewel of India) award, the government's highest civilian citation, in 1980. When she passed away in September 1997, the federal government accorded her a state funeral. She was only the second private citizen-- after Mahatma Ghandhi, the father of the modern Indian state-- accorded that honor.