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Untold debate on Mother

Vatican City, Sept. 9 (Reuters): The Vatican had considered breaking with centuries of tradition by making Mother Teresa a saint in one swoop, bypassing the intermediate step of beatification, church sources said today.

They said that earlier this year, Vatican officials gave what one source called “serious consideration” to the possibility of putting the nun who died in 1997 on the fast track to sainthood. A letter was sent in Pope John Paul’s name by a top official to cardinals in Rome, asking them for their opinion about skipping beatification, they said.

Mother Teresa had already been given preferential treatment for her beatification but the Vatican decided not to take the direct-sainthood step, apparently because some officials were not comfortable with the precedent.

On October 19 at the Vatican, Pope John Paul, who has created more saints than any of his predecessors, will beatify her. The ceremony will be the climax of a week of celebrations marking the 25th anniversary of his election but her official sainthood will have to wait until later.

The key parts of the Roman Catholic Church’s current saint-making process go back several centuries and the procedure is detailed and often long, requiring two main steps of beatification and canonisation. In the early church, a proclamation sufficed. Now, one miracle has to be attributed to the candidate before beatification is possible and a second, distinct miracle must be attributed after beatification.

The sources, including one familiar with the letter, said consultations began after leaders of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity appealed to the Pope to consider short-cutting the process.

The Albanian-born nun, who died at the age of 87, was known as the “saint of the gutters” and the “living saint” and her beatification process has already broken the church’s speed record.

Under normal church rules, five years must pass after a person dies before the procedure for sainthood can begin. But in 1999, the pope granted a dispensation so it could start less than two years after her death.

Devotees of Mother Teresa began pressing the Vatican soon after her death, saying her holiness was clear to many around the world.

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