Monday, March 1, 1999 Published at 15:09 GMT
Mother Teresa on fast track to sainthood
Mother Teresa worked among Calcutta's poor
By Religious Affairs Correspondent Jane Little
Pope John Paul has decided to break with official church rules in order to accelerate the process of making the late Mother Teresa a saint.
It is a remarkable decision from the Vatican, which usually prizes its strict adherence to church rules.
Less than six months after it denied rumours that the Pope was planning to speed up the case for Mother Teresa, he has given the go-ahead to do exactly that.
The church formally requires five years to have passed after a person's death before the long and laborious process towards sainthood can be set in motion. But Mother Teresa died just 18 months ago.
The Vatican says she has been made a special case because of a deluge of demands for her beatification - the first stage to sainthood.
Now, Henry D'Souza, the Archbishop of Calcutta, where she lived and worked among the poor for several decades, can start to gather evidence that she displayed "heroic virtue".
That is one of the first steps in the close scrutiny required of the Albanian-born nun's character.
Claims of miracles attributed to her - another prerequisite for saint-making - have already been arriving at the Vatican.
Mother Teresa, an outspoken campaigner against poverty and founder of the worldwide Sisters of Charity, attracted many admirers for her work , including the Pope, with whom she had a warm personal friendship.
But she also had her critics, who disliked her methods of care. Many will now be asking why she is getting special treatment when other deserving candidates have taken years, even centuries to reach sainthood.