Mother Teresa miracle claims attacked

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 October, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 October, 2002, 12:00am


Doctors in India are bitterly critical of the Vatican for putting its seal of approval on a miracle attributed to Mother Teresa.

The controversial miracle involved Indian tribal woman Monica Besra, 30, who had an abdominal tumour. The large tumour apparently vanished and she was completely healed after praying to Mother Teresa.

The miracle reportedly happened in Calcutta's Mother House on September 5, 1998 - a year to the day after Mother Teresa's death.

On Tuesday, after protracted investigations by a special committee constituted to probe the healing, Pope John Paul's office approved of the miracle, moving the Nobel Peace Prize-winning nun one step closer to sainthood.

But doctors who treated Ms Besra, a mother of five, at a government-run hospital in the town of Siliguri from June 1998 to May 1999 say she was cured by medicine which was administered to her and are vehemently criticising the Vatican for declaring the healing a miracle. Quoting medical records, they said she was diagnosed, treated and cured scientifically.

Dr M. Musad and Dr A. Mustafi, of North Bengal University Medical College Hospital, who treated Ms Besra, said she had complained of severe abdominal pain and chronic headache when she first came to them in June 1998 from her village, Nakor.

'Ultrasonography revealed a lump in her uterus, while further investigations established that she was suffering from tubercular meningitis which affected other parts of her body and caused the lump in her abdomen,' Dr Mustafi said.

Hospital superintendent Dr Musad said the woman was prescribed and administered anti-tuberculosis drugs.

According to the doctors, she responded to the treatment and a second ultrasonography test at the hospital in May 1999 found no 'noticeable uterine lump'.

According to Ms Besra's version, treatment was ineffective and she went to Mother House as a last resort, where the nuns kept a Mother Teresa medallion on her stomach and prayed, resulting in the lump's disappearance.

'Mother Teresa should be recognised as a saint for all that she did for the poorest of the poor. Attributing miracles to her is belittling her extraordinary contribution to mankind,' Dr Masud said.