The Vatican announced Monday that Pope Francis will hold an ordinary public consistory of cardinals on March 15, at which time he will sign the decree for the canonization of Blessed Mother Teresa of Kolkata (Calcutta) and four others. It is expected that the date of the canonization(s) will be announced next Tuesday as well.

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I had learned that the bishops of India had asked Pope Francis to bring the canonization ceremony to Calcutta. It seems they wanted to honor both the new saint and her worldwide missionary order, in addition to having a papal visit for this subcontinent’s Catholics. Upon learning of the murders of four of the Misionary of Charity sisters in Yemen, I even wondered if the Pope would indeed bend the rules a bit and canonize Blessed Teresa in the city she so loved, instead of in Rome.

It seems the bishops of India will be disappointed, and that the canonization ceremony is planned for Sunday, September 4 in Rome, a date that had been speculated on for some time. Blessed Mother Teresa died on September 5, 1997, at the age of 87, so this is the closest possible Sunday date for a canonization.

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The practice for centuries was to have beatifications take place in the home diocese of the new Blessed, which meant that veneration of that person would take nplace on a “local” level. Canonizations were to take place in Rome because that ceremony now meant that the individual(s) canonize could be venerated at the level of the Universal Church.

St. John Paul bent these rules a bit and decided he wanted to do beatifications in Rome, as well as canonization ceremonies. This was frowned on by some but the saintly pontiff did it his way. Benedict XVI returned to the centuries-old tradition of appointing someone – usually the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints – to represent him at a beatification ceremony in the new Blessed’s diocese, but he, Benedict, preside at canonizations in Rome.

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The Vatican announcement noted that Pope Francis had officially cleared Blessed Mother Teresa for sainthood on December 17, 2015, recognizing the miraculous healing through her intercession of a Brazilian man with multiple brain abscesses.  Mother Teresa was beatified – declared Blessed – in Rome on October 19, 2003, after Pope St. John Paul II recognized the miraculous healing of an Indian woman with a tumor in her abdomen.

Born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu‎ of Albanian parents on ‎August 26, 1910, in Skopje, in what ‎is ‎Macedonia today, Mother Teresa died in Kolkata, formerly Calcutta, on September 5, ‎‎1997.  ‎Affectionately known as the “saint of the gutter” for her unconditional ‎love ‎for the poor, abandoned and the marginalized, she earned several international honors, including ‎the ‎Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.



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WASHINGTON — The Knights of Columbus will unveil a detailed report documenting the genocide facing Christians in the Middle East at the hands of ISIS at 10 a.m. E.T. on Thursday, March 10 at the National Press Club (529 14TH St. NW). State Department officials requested that the Knights create such a report specifically on the Christian situation. State is required by law to make a determination as to whether the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East will be designated “genocide” by a congressionally-mandated deadline of March 17.

The event will include remarks by Carl Anderson, CEO of the Knights of Columbus, as well as by a panel of experts including:

  • Father Douglas al-Bazi, former hostage, now a priest at Mar Elia Refugee Camp in Erbil, Iraq
  • Bishop Sarhad Y. Jammo, Chaldean Catholic Diocese of St. Peter the Apostle of the Western USA
  • Bishop Anba Angaelos, Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom
  • Nina Shea, Director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom
  • Prof. Gregory Stanton, Founding President, Genocide Watch

The Knights of Columbus is currently sponsoring an online petition that urges Secretary of State John Kerry not to exclude Christians from a declaration of genocide at the hands of ISIS. The petition has so far garnered more than 50,000 signatures, including those of Gov. John Kasich of Ohio; Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York; U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference President Archbishop Joseph Kurtz; Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals; Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan Prelate, Armenian Apostolic Church of America (Eastern Prelacy); historian Philip Jenkins; human rights experts and activists; and Hollywood producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey.

The Knights petition was launched February 25 and is being promoted with a new nationwide TV ad that cites Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio all naming what his happening to Christians in the Middle East at the hands of ISIS as “genocide.” The fact that what is happening to Christians and other minority groups is genocide is also supported by 55 percent of Americans, according to a 2015 K of C-Marist poll.

To date, the European Parliament, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, as well as government bodies in Iraq and elsewhere have designated the situation facing Christians and other minority groups in the region as genocide. Secretary Kerry himself, said in 2014: “ISIL’s campaign of terror against the innocent, including Yazidi and Christian minorities, and its grotesque and targeted acts of violence bear all the warning signs and hallmarks of genocide.”