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from issue no. 10 - 2003

Some thoughts from the new Cardinal Francesco Marchisano

“Let’s go and see Mother Teresa’s house”

by Francesco Marchisano

Mother Teresa welcomed by young people in a mission in the city of Shillom in India

Mother Teresa welcomed by young people in a mission in the city of Shillom in India

Two small thoughts on Mother Teresa and the Church. When I was at Catholic Education they gave me the job of following the World Council of Churches of Geneva, that brings together about 240 Churches and Christian communities in search of unity.
I did the job for 23 years, and it also required ecumenical gatherings in various parts of the world. About thirty years ago we were going to hold one of these meetings in Tokyo, and on the way we decided to stop over in two places in India, one of which was Calcutta. We were lodged there in a Protestant house. I was the only Catholic among the forty or so people taking part in the conference, but it was the others who said: “Let’s go and see Mother Teresa’s house”. I had heard tell of her, I didn’t know much, but I was naturally in agreement with the proposal. We went, and her missionaries of charity took us into the enormous room where Mother Teresa took in all the poor people of the streets, the dying. Then we saw the section for abandoned children, and how they were welcomed, looked after, their faces. As we were leaving, my colleagues suddenly moved away from me and began to talk silently among themselves, and immediately after one of the group addressed me – he was a lecturer from Thessalonica, an Orthodox – with these words: “Why are we going to Tokyo to study the Church? We’ve found it here”.
The finest speech for me at the last synod of bishops from Asia was that of the then Archbishop of Calcutta, D’Souza. Mother Teresa had recently died and the crowds of people at her funeral had been inconceivable. “You have seen”, D’Souza more or less said, “how all the world bowed to Mother Teresa, without distinction among Christians, Hindi, Buddhists, Moslems… Why? Because she put into practice what the Lord has told us: look after the poor. Allow me to say just one thing here: if we do this, we do all, if we don’t do this, we do nothing”.
(Text gathered by Giovanni Cubeddu)

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