Pope Francis has held up Mother Teresa as a model for the Church’s service to the marginalized while praising her political interventions for revealing the guilt world leaders bear for the “crime of poverty.”
Canonizing the Albanian nun in St. Peter’s Square this morning, Francis said he offered her to Catholics as a patron of volunteers who put their faith into action by helping others regardless of race, religion or culture.
And following the Mass the Pope offered his own concrete gesture of mercy by giving a pizza lunch to hundreds of poor people in the Vatican.
Born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in 1910 she joined an Irish order of nuns at the age of 18 and was sent to teach at the community’s school’s in India. Moved by the poverty and famine in India’s Calcutta she left her order and founded the Missionaries of Charity which today has a network of hospices and homes in 139 countries.
Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 she became one of the twentieth centuries most iconic figures who at times received criticism for her interventions into politics.
But during his homily today Pope today responded to the critics saying she had made “her voice heard” to world leaders so that they “might recognize their guilt for the crime — the crimes! — of poverty they created.”
Francis praised Mother Teresa for being willing to “bow down” to those dying and was a “dispenser of divine mercy” for those who were the “poorest of the poor.” He urged Catholics to follow her lead by serving the likes of refugees and migrants, those without faith and young people “without values and ideals.”
The Pope did not just cite the new saint’s good works but also praised her strong defense of Catholic moral teaching citing her opposition to abortion.
“She was committed to defending life, ceaselessly proclaiming that ‘the unborn are the weakest, the smallest, the most vulnerable,’ ” the Pope said adding that she was an emblematic figure of womanhood.
The canonization of Mother Teresa is one of the major set-piece events of the Pope’s jubilee year of mercy and he urged Catholics this morning once again to perform charitable works.
Earlier today pizza makers from Naples had come to the Vatican to prepare lunch for 1,500 of Italy’s poverty stricken cooking in ovens brought in especially for the occasion. The meal took place in the Paul VI’s hall and was served by 250 of Mother’s Teresa nuns.
“It takes a certain daring and courage to recognise the divine Master in the poorest of the poor and those who are cast aside, and to give oneself in their service,” the Pope said in his homily.
He added, however, that Christianity is not simply helping people is not simply in “times of need” but requires followers to devote their entire life in service.
“Volunteers, who out of love of Jesus serve the poor and the needy, do not expect any thanks or recompense,” he said. “Rather they renounce all this because they have discovered true love.”
Given that she was seen as a saint throughout much of her life, the Pope today declared that Mother Teresa would continue to be referred by that title rather than as “Saint Teresa.”
He explained: “I think, perhaps, we may have some difficult in calling her ‘Saint Teresa’: her holiness is so near to us, so tender and so fruitful that we continue to spontaneously call her “Mother Teresa.’ ”
During the Angelus, after Mass had finished, the Pope praised all those women religious serving in places of difficulty and cited 51-year-old Sister Isabel Sola Macas who on Friday was murdered in Haiti.
Read more…Entire transcript of the Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis, Holy Mass and Rite of Canonization of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta