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Brief Report of the Press Conference held on 30th August, 2016, with Mr. Navin Chawla, Biographer of Mother Teresa at CBCI Centre, New Delhi

To mark the occasion of the Canonization of Blessed Mother Teresa on 4th September in Vatican, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India together with Caritas India the Social Development wing of the Catholic Church in India organised a Press conference in CBCI Centre, New Delhi, on 30th August, 2016, at 4.00 p.m. Besides the panel of journalists, the key speakers at the Press Conference were Mr. Navin Chawla, Former Election Commissioner of India and the 1st authorised biographer of Mother Teresa; Most Rev. Anil Couto, Archbishop of Delhi, Most Rev. Theodore Mascarenhas, Secretary General of CBCI and Fr. Paul Moonjely, Assistant Executive Director of Caritas India.

"As Indians we have to feel proud about the canonisation of Bharat Ratna Mother Teresa. She had dedicated her life for the upliftment of the poor. She was an Albanian, and English language was not her mother tongue and yet she adopted it as her language and served the poor.”- Prime Minister in Mann ki Baat (29 August 2016)

During the press conference, CBCI Secretary General Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas introducing the Press Conference said that canonisation of Mother Teresa would be an important event for India and he was grateful to the government for the support to the upcoming ceremony.

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"We thank the government for its support. It would be an important day for the world, especially for Indians as the Mother came here from Albania and put the gospel values and Indian values together to reach out to millions of brethren in the peripheries and beyond boundaries of caste, creed and religion," he said.

We in India became richer because of her poverty, greater because of her humility, blessed because of her compassion. She lived among us and gave compassion and mercy to those who needed it".

Prime Minister’s statement for Mother Teresa’s canonisation is an expression of his and country’s appreciation of Mother Teresa’s compassionate and loving service to humanity and sacrifice of others serving the marginalised. Mother Teresa merged the Gospel values with Indian values while rendering services to the destitute and poorest of the poor in India. Bishop Mascarenhas said: “The Prime Minister articulated what many Indians feel; that Mother Teresa is ours.” In speaking about the founder of the Missionaries of Charity in this manner, the Prime Minister had appreciated the sweat and blood of every foreign missionary who has worked in India for the uplift of the people.

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Archbishop Anil explained the process of Beatification and Canonisation. It is a rigorous one. While the process is initiated at the local diocesan level by the Bishop, persons are declared saints by the Pope, only after a thorough examination of the person’s background, life, works, by the special commissions established to examine facts scientifically and from the theological perspective. And it is not the Pope who bestows sainthood, but God alone, while the Pope facilitates the process on behalf of the Church and people of God. He explained that Mother Teresa was declared the ‘Servant of God’ in 2003, and following two miracles of healing and gift of child, in India and Brazil, respectively, associated with her intercessory powers, she was declared for universal veneration of person by the Pope.

While interacting with the press fraternity, Mr. Navin Chawla sated “I came to know Mother Teresa Mother Teresa in 1975, and while this canonization had to come someday, people of India had already declared her a saint in her lifetime. Her sense of humour and cheerfulness was never captured in the very many books written on her, which she used to lighten the seriousness of the work she was spearheading, that of attending to the poorest and neglected on the streets of Kolkata. She would say, “You cannot go to the poor with a long face”, recalled Mr. Navin Chawla, former Chief Election Commissioner of India, who wrote the authorized biography on Mother Teresa.

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“Strands of goodness and sacrifice are always remembered in India across faiths. Faithfulness was what mattered to her most than success, despite the fact that she had among her initial helpers were Bidhan Chandra Roy, second Chief Minister of India’s family, followed by other statesmen. Mr. Chawla recalled, that Mr. Jyoti Basu, a politician belonging to the Communist Party of India, shared that he and Mother Teresa shared in common their love for the poor”, stated Mr. Navin Chawla in the press conference.

While her critics question why she never used the resources she received to set up a hospital, she was clear that her Home was for the most poor and those on the street sides, and not for the elite. Having a super specialty hospital would have ended up in turning into a business and leaving out such sections of people who fell on the wayside.

Blessed Mother Teresa never confided herself to institutions, and moved out to the margins, beyond boundaries of caste, creed, colour and religion. She continues to inspire Caritas India and the Church, in their endeavour to reach out to the neediest and marginalized people with love and compassion”, stated Fr. Paul Moonjely, the Assistant Executive Director of Caritas India in the press conference.

Caritas India, the arm of mercy of the Catholic Church is trying to demonstrate such model set by Mother and other saints by way of providing food, clothing, shelter and comfort to 6 million people in distress on various accounts including emergencies. Caritas provides support to the displaced, livelihood and nutritional security to the Dalits, Tribals, people with disabilities, and migrants etc., with the vision of “Leave No One Behind”, as the development agenda for itself, remarked Fr. Paul Moonjely, Dy Director, Caritas India. Mother Teresa will continue to inspire us in this work of taking Jesus’ love and compassion to the people.

The Government of India delegation led by Smt. Sushma Swaraj the Cabinet Minister for External Affairs, will be visiting Rome to attend the canonisation ceremony of Blessed Mother Teresa. Besides others, the Official Government of India delegation includes Most Rev. Theodore Mascarenhas, the Secretary General of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India. It is for the first time in the history of India, that a Catholic Bishop has been invited to be a part of the Official Delegation to Rome. Most Rev. Theodore Mascarenhas will be accompanying Ms. Sushma Swaraj to be part of the canonisation ceremony of Blessed Mother Teresa, on 4th September, 2016, at the Vatican, Rome

The Press Conference was attended by several frontline media personnel of Delhi.