THE Vatican said yesterday that Mother Teresa of Calcutta would be beatified, probably next spring, despite claims that a cure attributed to her had been brought about by medical treatment.
Under Vatican rules a candidate for beatification, the last step before sainthood, must not only have led a holy life, but must also be shown to have been responsible for at least one medically inexplicable cure.
For sainthood, proof of two miracles is required.
This week Partho De, the former health minister in West Bengal, said that the healing in 1998 of Monika Besra (30), a Bengali tribal woman with cancer, had not been due to a miracle as the Vatican claimed, but to "very strong medicines".
The Missionaries of Charity, the Order founded by Mother Teresa, had said that Ms Besra had been healed after a medal bearing the image of Mother Teresa had been placed on her stomach.
The former minister said he had been state health minister at the time, and could testify that Ms Besra had been cured of a tumour by treatment at Balurghat hospital in West Bengal.
Prabir Ghosh, head of the Science and Rationalist Association in Calcutta, said that it would be "a shame for Mother Teresa to be considered for sainthood on the basis of false claims and lies". His association was considering legal action against the Missionaries of Charity for "misleading the people".
The Vatican, however, said that its beatification procedures involved exhaustive investigations by a highly qualified medical team, which "authenticated" the miracle a week ago.
(The Times, London)