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Mother Teresa’s canonisation in 2016 not confirmed, says Vatican

Pope Francis reaches for a poster of Mother Teresa as he is driven through the crowd, in Tirana, Albania during his visit in 2014 (PA)

Despite reports in the Italian press that Blessed Teresa of Calcutta’s canonisation has been set for September 4, 2016, a Vatican spokesman says the date is only hypothetical and cannot be confirmed.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi issued a statement on Tuesday in response to media reports that the founder of the Missionaries of Charity, who worked among the poorest of the poor, would be canonised before the end of the upcoming Holy Year of Mercy.

“It is a working hypothesis, therefore there is no official confirmation to be given,” said Fr Lombardi. “The cause for Mother Teresa is still underway and it is therefore premature to speak of an already established date for the canonisation.”

But Italian media have reported that Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelisation, told Rome’s municipal officials on Monday that Mother Teresa’s canonisation has been set for September 4, 2016. Archbishop Fisichella’s office is organising the Holy Year of Mercy, which will begin on December 8, 2015.

According to the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, the archbishop also told city officials that the relics of St Padre Pio, a Capuchin priest who bore the stigmata of Jesus, will be brought to Rome from southern Italy for veneration by the faithful. The date for the translation of the relics has not yet been set.

With large crowds expected for both events and throughout the Holy Year, Archbishop Fisichella reportedly asked on behalf of the Vatican that city officials guarantee all pilgrims health care during the Holy Year. The Italian newspaper also reported that the archbishop asked the municipality to clear out the street vendors around St Peter’s Square, who tend to sell pilgrims overpriced goods.

Less than two weeks earlier, at a May 5 news conference at the Vatican, Archbishop Fisichella did not confirm a canonisation date for Mother Teresa, saying only that the canonisation was hoped for.

Officially, a second miracle still must be approved to open the way for Mother Teresa’s canonisation. However, Pope Francis has previously waived steps required for sainthood for other holy men and women.

Canonisations that are approved without meeting all of the requirements set by Church norms are called equivalent or equipollent canonisations. Pope Francis has approved at least seven equivalent canonisations during his two-year pontificate: Angela Foligno, Peter Faber, Jose de Anchieta, Marie of the Incarnation, Francois de Laval, Joseph Vaz and Junipero Serra.

St John Paul II had already made an exception to the rules in Mother Teresa’s case by allowing her cause for beatification to be opened without waiting the usual five years after a candidate’s death.