Mother Teresa?s canonisation seems imminent, with the Vatican today announcing Father Brian of the Missionary Fathers of Charity as the Postulator or the person who will argue her case for sainthood. He will fly into the city from Rome as early as Tuesday to hasten the process.
In a fax message to The Telegraph, a Vatican spokesman said they received an e-mail from the Archbishop of Calcutta, Henry D?Souza, this morning. The e-mail said: ?The Postulator will be Father Brian, MC, of the Missionary Fathers of Charity. He is due in Calcutta on March 9.??
The Missionaries of Charity said Father Brian is of Canadian origin but now based in Rome. ?He is the superior of one of our houses in Rome,?? said Father Julius of the Missionary Fathers.
Sources in the congregation disclosed that Father Brian was chosen after much deliberation. ?In the end, we chose him to argue Mother?s case before the Archbishop and the Vatican because he was close to Mother and is low-profile. Father Brian was present during Mother?s funeral. Moreover, the Postulator has to be sensitive to the people he interviews and keep their confidence,?? the source said.
Once Father Brian arrives in the city, the formal process of canonisation will begin. Vatican officials said it is now up to Archbishop D?Souza to ensure that proceedings are accelerated.
?The ball is now in the court of the local Ordinary (meaning Archbishop D?Souza). It is he who would initiate the sainthood process,?? the source said.
Vatican officials said the mood is very positive there and even locals are clamouring that Mother Teresa be declared a saint in 2000 for it marks 2,000 years of the birth of Christ.
?There is a possibility of that happening, judging by how things have unfolded. First Pope John Paul II waives the mandatory five-year waiting period and then the Postulator is appointed so quickly. One would believe that canonisation is imminent,?? the official pointed out.
The Telegraph had reported on Sunday that the Supreme Pontiff had written to the Archbishop on December 12, saying he had scrapped the mandatory five-year waiting period. According to the rule introduced in 1983, the process of canonisation can only begin five years after a person?s death.
The Vatican today said the Pope?s move is ?unprecedented and an exception??. A church official in Rome said over phone: ?It has pleasantly surprised all alike.??
When contacted at the Vatican, the Press office of the Holy See explained what prompted Pope John Paul II to take such a significant decision. In September last year, the Vatican had said the five-year period would not be waived as ?Rome has its rules?.
?The move was in response to requests from the Archbishop of Calcutta, bishops all over the world, Catholic faithful and associations,?? a spokesperson of the Press office said.
He pointed out that even the Congregation of Saints in the Vatican, which deals with canonisation, had petitioned the Pope on December 2 to waive the five-year rule.
Father Ciro Benedettini, a Vatican spokesman, today said: ?The demand was so great and insistent that the Holy Father thought he should go ahead.??
Vatican officials said the Pope, as the church?s supreme legislator, can always decide to waive a rule like this. A reason he did so in this case was that the rule seemed superfluous in the case of Mother Teresa.
The Vatican said since her death, Mother Teresa has been cited several times by the Pope as a model of holiness in action. In a recent talk on the topic of dying, the Pope said: ?Mother Teresa, along with many saints through the centuries,?? had given the kind of care and attention needed by people in the last phase of life.