Report: Mother Teresa Had Exorcism
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REPORT: MOTHER TERESA HAD EXORCISM
By Chandra Banerjee
Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2001
CALCUTTA, India Mother Teresa had an exorcism performed on her while
hospitalized in 1997, the Archbishop of Calcutta said Wednesday.
The disclosure by Archbishop Henry D'Souza came as hundreds of people in
this eastern Indian city paid homage to the renowned caregiver on the fourth
anniversary of her death.
But the Rev. Richard McBrien, a Notre Dame theology professor, called the
exorcism and the archbishop's explanation for it "bizarre."
D'Souza said the exorcism would not affect the nun's candidacy for
"No way. Mother was not possessed ... it did not hurt her sanctity," D'Souza
told The Associated Press. He said the need for the exorcism was a sign of
her human side.
"Human dimension in a saint is quite normal," he said. "It was rather a sign
of closeness to God."
He said the exorcism took place in a hospital where the nun was admitted
because of heart trouble before her death on Sept. 5, 1997 at age 87.
D'Souza said he was undergoing similar treatment at the same hospital.
The doctor treating Mother Teresa reported that she was having trouble
sleeping, he said.
"There was no medical reason for that," the archbishop said. "It struck me
that there could be some evil spirit which was trying to disturb her."
He said he had subsequently asked with the nun's consent for a priest in
one of the churches to perform an exorcism.
Along with the priest, Mother Teresa participated in a "prayer of
protection" and "slept peacefully after that," he said.
Catholic experts said it would be highly unusual for Mother Teresa to have
undergone an exorcism.
Exorcism is extremely rare in the Catholic church and is used only when no
psychological or physical explanation can be found for dramatic changes in
behavior, said Scott Appleby, director of the Cushwa Center for the Study of
American Catholicism at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind.
McBrien, who teaches at the South Bend, Ind., university, said exorcism is
used only when the person is thought to be possessed by the devil.
"I cannot believe they would have allowed that to happen," McBrien said.
"They could have performed the rite of the anointing of the sick. That's one
of the sacraments. Exorcisms aren't sacraments."
McBrien agreed that an exorcism likely would not affect Mother Teresa's
candidacy for sainthood. However, he questioned whether Mother Teresa was
truly able to give her consent to such a procedure.
"People would challenge wills made by people in that circumstance," McBrien
After Mother Teresa died, Pope John Paul II waived the customary five-year
waiting period to start the process leading to possible sainthood.
The Calcutta archdiocese's formal investigation into Mother Teresa's life
and virtues was completed last month and submitted to the Vatican.
On Wednesday, Sister Nirmala, the nun's successor, said she had not heard
anything from the Vatican about the process.
"All of us are praying for an early sainthood of our mother," she told nuns
and volunteers who gathered to offer morning prayer at Mother Teresa's tomb.
"We feel her absence very much physically. But spiritually she is always
with us and guiding us in our work."
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