Cardinal Luis Tagle, the President of Caritas Internationalis, has praised the example of St Teresa of Kolkata as Catholics from around the world paid tribute to the saint on the anniversary of her death.
Tagle, aged 63, noted, in a conversation with Vatican Media, the way in which the “Mother of the Poor” presents a criticism of our way of life in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
“Has the pandemic awakened the instinct of love in us,” the Cardinal asked, “or has it made us impersonal?”
Tagle, the former Archbishop of Manila, argued that the intrinsic link between Mother Teresa’s life of faith and her charitable works should lead us to ask deeper questions of ourselves.
“Everyone is called to do acts of charity to alleviate poverty and to foster stability and peace,” said the Cardinal. “But in the spirit of St. Mother Teresa, I believe this year’s celebration poses deeper questions: what kind of person are you? What kind of persons are we forming in our youth? Do we respect the persons who differ from us?”
A 2012 UN resolution established September 5, as the International Day of Charity in explicit tribute to Mother Teresa, which Tagle referenced as an example of the way believers and non-believers could work together for justice.
In a homily on 5 September, the Archbishop of Kolkata, Thomas D’Souza, also saw a contemporary resonance for Mother Teresa’s life and work in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic – which has spread “death, hunger and poverty” in his Diocese.
Celebrating Mass at Mother Teresa’s tomb, in the motherhouse of the order she founded - the Missionaries of Charity - Archbishop D’Souza said that Mother Teresa’s example inspires “Many a Covid warrior”. Men and women of all faiths or none who have been serving “the sick, the poor, the hungry” are, he said, “in some way or other inspired by the life and example of Saint Teresa of Kolkata”.
The postulator of Mother Teresa’s cause for canonisation, Fr Brian Kolodiejchuk, speaking to Vatican Radio, echoed Archbishop D’Souza’s words, saying that “Not since Saint Francis of Assisi has there been a saint that had such a wide echo beyond the Church”. Pointing to Mother Teresa’s Nobel Peace Prize amongst other awards, he said, making her well known “well beyond the Church”. Mother Teresa was canonised in 2016, less than two decades after her death, and remains a popular figure within the church.