ROME — Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, also known as “Mother Teresa,” was declared a venerated saint on Sunday after she met the Vatican’s requirement of being credited with the purported healing of two people through what Roman Catholics believe is her intercession in death.
“[A]fter due deliberation and frequent prayer for divine assistance, and having sought the counsel of many of our brother bishops, we declare and define Blessed Teresa of Calcutta to be a saint, and we enroll her among the saints, decreeing that she is to be venerated as such by the whole church,” Jorge Bergoglio, also known as Pope Francis, declared at the Vatican before an estimated crowd of 120,000 people on Sunday.
A large painting of Bojaxhiu was displayed during the announcement, during which time Bergoglio stated that some might forget to now call her “Saint Teresa” instead of “Mother Teresa.”
“She bowed down before those who were spent, left to die on the side of the road, seeing in them their God-given dignity,” Bergoglio said, referring to Bojaxhiu’s work among the poor. “She made her voice heard before the powers of this world, so that they might recognize their guilt for the crime of poverty they created.”
As previously reported, Bojaxhiu won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 for her attention to the world’s impoverished. She is known for her humanitarianism on the streets of Calcutta, India in founding the Missionaries of Charity.
“Mother Teresa” died in 1997 at the age of 87, and was beatified by Pope John Paul II. Beatification is “a recognition accorded by the Catholic Church of a dead person’s entrance into Heaven and capacity to intercede on behalf of individuals who pray in his or her name.”
In December, the Vatican announced that Bojaxhiu would be canonized after being attributed to two miracles since her passing.
“The Holy Father has authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to proclaim the decree concerning the miracle attributed to the intercession of blessed Mother Teresa,” it said in a statement.
In the Roman Catholic religion, in order for a person to be sainted, they must be credited with bringing about two miracles after their death through their intercession, with the exception of just one miracle for those who are martyred for their faith.
The first miracle the Vatican attributed to Bojaxhiu was the healing of a cancerous tumor suffered by an Indian woman in 2003.
“[W]hen I prayed to Mother Teresa from my heart, Mother Teresa blessed me and now I am healthy,” Monica Besra told CNN last week.
The second involved a Brazilian man who contracted a viral infection in 2008 and slipped into a coma after developing brain abscesses.
“The patient’s wife continuously sought the intercession of the Blessed Mother Teresa for her husband,” explained Brian Kolodiejchiuk, who had called for Bojaxhiu’s canonization, in a statement last December.
When the man was wheeled into an operating room, the arriving surgeon found him awake and asking, “What am I doing here?” He recovered, and despite being told that he would never be able to have children, his wife conceived.
While many have applauded the Roman Catholic Church’s declaration of Bojaxhiu as a saint, others have expressed concern over the development—including the concept of canonizing any person in the first place.
“The world needs to know that God is the only one who converts a sinner to a saint. It is God alone who chooses and calls His saints out of the world to be sanctified or set apart as new creatures in Christ (1 Cor. 1:2; 2 Cor. 5:17),” Mike Gendron of Proclaiming the Gospel Ministries said on Monday.
Gendron, a former Roman Catholic whose ministry seeks to reach Catholics with biblical truth, explained that there were concerns over a number of the statements made by Bojaxhiu.
“Mother Teresa did not believe or proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ as the only way of salvation,” he said. “She encouraged Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists to be better Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists. She never pointed people to Christ as the only savior, mediator and redeemer. Instead she taught a bizarre ‘pseudo-pantheism’ in which she believed Jesus was present in everyone.”
In her book “Life in the Spirit: Reflections, Meditations and Prayers,” Bojaxhiu wrote, “We never try to convert those who receive [aid from Missionaries of Charity] to Christianity, but in our work we bear witness to the love of God’s presence, and if Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists, or agnostics become for this, better men — simply better — we will be satisfied.”
“It matters to the individual what church he belongs to. If that individual thinks and believes that this is the only way to God for her or him, this is the way God comes into their life — his life. If he does not know any other way and if he has no doubt so that he does not need to search, then this is his way to salvation,” she stated.
Gendron also noted that Bojaxhiu struggled with her own faith at the end of her life, writing in a letter, “Lord, my God, you have thrown [me] away as unwanted and unloved. I call, I cling, I want, and there is no one to answer, no, no one. Where is my faith? There is nothing, I have no faith.”
“Yet, in spite of her lack of faith and her rejection of the gospel of Jesus Christ, this unbelieving agnostic has been declared a saint,” he said.