M Chhaya in Kolkata
A doctor who treated Monica Besra, the tribal woman whom Mother Teresa is believed to have miraculously cured, has alleged that some persons claiming to represent the Roman Catholic Church and the Missionaries of Charity are trying to pressurise him to pass off the case as an inexplicable medical phenomenon.
Dr Manzur Murshed, superintendent of the Balurghat Hospital in South Dinajpur district of West Bengal, said, "They want us to say Monica Besra's recovery was a miracle and beyond the comprehension of medical science."
According to Dr Murshed, in 1998 Besra received nine months of anti-tubercular treatment for her abdominal tumour and was cured.
The Vatican's Congregation for Causes of Saints has accepted that Besra was cured after praying to Mother Teresa and wearing a medallion with her photograph. This has paved the way for Mother Teresa's beatification, which is one step closer to sainthood.
But the objections by the doctors who treated Besra and Indian rationalists have blotched the entire beatification process.
Dr Murshed said, "The Missionaries of Charity and the local church [of Raigunj] have been inviting me and the other doctors to their functions to ensure that we say Besra was cured by a miracle."
The doctors maintain that Besra was suffering from tubercular meningitis and had developed an ovarian tumour. Several pathological tests and an ultrasonography had revealed the tumour inside her.
"We advised her a prolonged anti-tubercular treatment, which she followed and was cured," said Tapan Biswas, another doctor who was part of the team that treated Besra.
Dr Biswas added, "With all due respect to Mother Teresa, there should not be any talk of a miracle by her."
Besra's husband Sekhu Murmu told reporters that he believed his wife had been cured by medication and not by a miracle. He is actually peeved with all the publicity his wife has been receiving.
The controversy has forced even experts on canonisation laws to call for a review of the supposed miracle. Salesian priest Father A C Jose, considered an authority on canonisation laws, has said the miracle should be re-examined to remove any doubts about the authenticity of the sainthood process.
Mother Teresa is the fourteenth person from India to be considered for sainthood. She was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in Skopje, Macedonia, on August 26, 1910. She came to Calcutta, now Kolkata, on January 6, 1929. Her life was transformed after hearing a 'call' to serve the ailing humanity while on her way to Darjeeling on September 10, 1946.
She founded the order of the Missionaries of Charity in 1949, a year after which it received the Church's approval.
She received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. She died on September 5, 1997, in Kolkata, at the age of 87. Kings, queens, heads of states, and international leaders attended her funeral.
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