Reports fly on sainthood for Mother Teresa

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Despite recent reports that the Catholic Church plans to canonize Mother Teresa of Kolkata next September, the Vatican on Wednesday denied that it has set a date to officially name the missionary as saint.

Earlier in the week, the Italian news agency AGI and L’Avvenire, the Italian bishops conference newspaper, sparked a flurry of Internet speculation by reporting that Mother Teresa, who founded the Missionaries of Charity and devoted her life to helping the poor in India’s slums, could be canonized in September. Sept. 5, 2016, marks the 19th anniversary of her death.

Catholics believe that anyone who dies in God’s grace is a “saint.” The Vatican names as “Saints” (with a capital “S”) those who it deems to have led particularly heroic lives and to whom two miracles can be attributed. The miracles provide evidence that the deceased is with God in heaven.

Pope John Paul II beatified Mother Teresa in 2003, granting her the title of Blessed, the first step toward sainthood, after a cancer-ridden Indian woman recovered after offering prayers to Mother Teresa’s spirit. The church determined that the woman’s recovery was a miracle and attributed it to the late nun.

The Vatican usually requires a second miracle before proclaiming sainthood, although since Pope Francis became pontiff in 2013, he has canonized others, like Saint Junípero Serra, to whom only one miracle is attributed.

In September, media outlets reported that a Brazilian man who had suffered from multiple brain tumors was inexplicably cured in 2008, after he had prayed to Mother Teresa for relief.

Speculation has increased since Pope Francis declared a worldwide Jubilee Year of Mercy that starts Dec. 8. Pope Francis designated the upcoming year to focus on God’s forgiveness, including bestowing special mercy on women who have had an abortion. The church regards abortion as a sin. The Catholic News Agency reported in September that the pope wants to canonize Mother Teresa during the Jubilee Year.

A September canonization isn’t planned, according to the Rev. Ciro Benedettini, a spokesman for the Vatican, in responding to the reports on Wednesday. He said the case for naming Mother Teresa as a Saint is still open, and therefore the canonization cannot move forward.

Mother Teresa was born in Skopje, Macedonia, to Albanian parents in 1910. She passed away in 1997 at the age of 87 in India. The Missionaries of Charity currently serves the underprivileged in more than 200 countries.

Contact Kara Bettis at [email protected] or on Twitter at @karabettis