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Indian Marxists resist Mother Teresa festivities

Catholic leaders have expressed surprise and disappointment at the resistance of Marxist state officials in West Bengal state to popular sentiment in favour of celebrating last month's beatification of Mother Teresa.

Christian groups in the capital Calcutta began nine days of festivities on Saturday, including public prayers, an art exhibition and a concert, to mark the Albanian-born nun's 19 October beatification in Rome.

West Bengal, which is run by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), is regarded as a left-wing stronghold. Political leaders are uneasy with the Vatican's reason for beatifying Mother Teresa: the "miraculous" recovery of a tribal woman a year after the nun's death.

"Our party cadres will soon launch campaigns against the so-called miracles of self-professed godmen," said state secretary Anil Biswas.

Health Minister Surya Kanta Mishra said the Government did not agree with the Vatican's conclusion that Monica Besra was cured by the power of the late nun.

"We believe that the tribal woman Monica Besra's stomach tumour was cured by prolonged medication in two hospitals, not by any miracle. Doctors who treated her at the hospitals have already supported our claim," Mr Mishra said. "We are ready to accept the works of Mother Teresa, but not the miracle theory."

Ms Besra, in a recent interview in her village of Nakor 450km north of Calcutta, dismissed the claims. "It was Mother's blessings that cured me," said Ms Besra, 35, who converted to Catholicism.

Indian Marxists to deny Teresa (AFP/The Australian)

Mother Teresa supporters miffed as Calcutta leftists snub celebrations (AFP/Yahoo)

4 Nov 2003