ucanews.com reporters, New DelhiUpdated: January 05, 2016 10:51 AM GMT
An Indian child touches the glass near a statue to pay tribute to Mother Teresa, in front of her tomb in Kolkata in this 2011 file photo. (Photo by AFP)
India's Hindus and Muslims say the Catholic Church should not have waited for a miracle to declare Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta a saint.
Even though the Catholic Church is to officially proclaim her a saint in 2016, Mother Teresa had already acquired that honor from the poor and destitute in India, Santosh Kartik, a young Hindu from Delhi, told ucanews.com.
Nonetheless "it is a moment of immense joy for us. She was and still is a mother for all, irrespective of religions," he added.
Pope Francis had on Dec. 17 approved the second miracle — the recovery of a Brazilian man from multiple brain tumors — attributed to Mother Teresa, clearing her path to becoming a saint.
"She deserved the honor but besides that, it is a great honor for India and the philanthropic activities carried out in the country," Navaid Hamid, secretary of the South Asian Council for Minorities, told ucanews.com.
Mohammad Junaid Khan, a Muslim and coordinator of the interfaith forum Minhaj-ul-Quran, told ucanews.com that the honor should have been bestowed upon her much earlier.
"The work she has done is not related to a particular religion and people across communities can learn a lot from her," Khan said.
"Humanity is the biggest religion and she represented that," he added.
Anil Roy, the Hindu caretaker of the Sacred Heart Church in Kolkata, the city where Mother Teresa based and founded her Missionaries of Charity congregation in 1950, told ucanews.com that "after becoming a saint, she is now like a Hindu god to me."
For Rajeshwar Mittal, a lawyer based in Kolkata, Mother Teresa's life itself was a miracle.
"If you consider the life and work of Mother Teresa, she should have automatically got sainthood without any miracles," he told ucanews.com.
Blessed Teresa was born in Skopje, now the capital of Macedonia. She came to India in 1929 as a novice with the Loreto nuns. She left the congregation in the late 1940s and started the Missionaries of Charity to serve the poorest of the poor.
The congregation has 5,044 nuns in 768 houses — 515 overseas and 243 in India.
Blessed Teresa died of cardiac arrest at the motherhouse on Sept. 5, 1997. Her canonization process began two years afterward. Pope John Paul II beatified her in October 2003 after a verified miracle was attributed to her intercession. A second miracle was necessary for canonization, or the declaration of a saint.
"The Holy Father could not have given a better gift for us for Christmas and that waiting with anxiety is over," Archbishop Thomas D'Souza of Kolkata told ucanews.com.