Mother Teresa Successor: Disciples Needed in India

Speaks Out Against Violence in Name of Religion

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VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 5, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The superior-general of the Missionaries of Charity says that genuine disciples of Christ are needed to overcome the violence Christians have endured in recent weeks in India.

Sister Mary Nirmala Joshi, who succeeded Mother Teresa of Calcutta as head of the congregation, explained to L'Osservatore Romano today that "the Christian witness necessary in India today is to be genuine disciples of Christ, in love with the person of Christ and fully living the teaching he left us in the Sermon on the Mount."

Christians have been on the receiving end of numerous acts of violence in the Indian state of Orissa after a Hindu leader was killed there Aug. 23. Hindu extremists blamed Christians for the death.

Benedict XVI implored an end to the violence in his Aug. 27 general audience address. And the bishops of the country declared this Sunday, Sept. 7, a day of prayer and fasting for peace in India.

On Aug. 28, Sister Nirmala addressed a message to the people of Orissa and the whole of India, in which she said: "Religion must not be used to divide us. […] Violence in the name of religion is an abuse of religion.

"As Mother Teresa used to repeat: 'Religion is a work of love. It is not made to destroy peace and unity.'"

"In the name of our nation and our noble heritage, in the name of the poor, of children, and of all our brothers and sisters victims of this senseless violence and destruction: Let us pray, let us open ourselves to the light and love of God; let us put down the weapons of hatred and violence and be cloaked with the armor of love; let us forgive one another for the evil we have done to ourselves," she urged. "Let us ask Mother Teresa to intercede for us so that we become instruments of God and of his peace, builders of the civilization of love."

Intercessor

Today, the liturgical feast of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, Sister Nirmala expressed her "profound gratitude to God for the gift of her life of holiness and worldwide mission of love for the poorest of the poor, the least loved, the least wanted, the most forgotten among the children of God, regardless of caste, creed, nationality or culture."

This gratitude is expressed "with prayer, with sacrifice and with humble services of love toward our brothers and sisters who are in need," but also "renewing our desire for holiness and the determination to be saints, inspired by her example," she noted.

Moreover, the superior-general affirmed, Blessed Teresa is remembered "as a powerful instrument of intercession in heaven, given to us by God, to implore her powerful and efficacious intercession for peace and harmony among all in Orissa and in all tormented areas of the world, and for the needs of all those who suffer."

The great love that people have for Mother Teresa stems from the fact that "she taught with words and by example that anything we do to the least of our brethren we do to God himself," Sister Nirmala said. "The inhabitants of India are very proud of Mother. In her they have found someone who truly cares for them. Her life is a source of inspiration for them. In her name all hearts and doors open."