Mother Teresa's Beatification Expected to Send a Message

Archbishop Concessao Foresees Positive Effects for India

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NEW DELHI, India, AUG. 25, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The forthcoming beatification of Mother Teresa of Calcutta may provide a great chance for evangelization, says the archbishop of Delhi.



With the beatification, "the message of love and compassion of Christianity will reach many people who did not know it and who at last will understand what we do and why we do it," Archbishop Vincent Concessao told the Misna agency.

"The Albanian religious is very well known by Indians, who respect her enormously and consider her an authentic mother for the poor and the disinherited," said the prelate, who is also vice president of the Indian episcopal conference.

The archbishop said that almost everyone in India, a country that is 83% Hindu, is happy about the beatification, planned for Oct. 19 in Rome.

"Only some groups of Hindu fundamentalists have misunderstood her work, considering it as a way of forced conversion of Christianity," he said. "For the time being, these extremists have not pronounced themselves openly and I think that, for the occasion of the beatification, there won't be disorders of any kind in India."

The beatification will give the Church in India an occasion to send out important messages to the world, according to the Delhi prelate.

"We intend to communicate again the message of love and mercy toward the poor, characteristic of Mother Teresa's mission, and invite new people to reinforce the commitment in favor of those who have nothing," he said.

Among the initiatives planned by the Indian bishops' conference in the context of the beatification are a solemn Mass in New Delhi and the inauguration of a street dedicated to the religious, where a statue will be unveiled in her honor. Food for the neediest will be distributed in the capital's parishes.

Archbishop Concessao asked Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee last week that the beatification be transmitted live on television at the national level.

"These days, every now and then there is a program or some news on Mother Teresa, but only occasionally," the archbishop said.

India's bishops have also asked the Prime Minister to send an interreligious delegation to the Vatican on Oct. 19.