Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, better known to the world as Mother Teresa, was born Aug. 26, 1910, and to mark her 100th birthday, her home country Albania plans to open a museum in her honor.
In time for the museum’s opening, Albania requested that India return Mother Teresa’s remains so that she could be buried in Tirana, the country’s capital.
In a press conference on Oct. 9, Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha said his request was a humane one. He wishes to bury Mother Teresa next to her mother and sister, whom she loved very much.
“She told me that she prayed every day for her family and her country. That’s why I think both governments should talk about (this) and find a solution,” Berisha said.
India, on the other hand, has made it very clear that it are not willing to negotiate on this issue. Father Sukhendu Biswas of St. Mary’s Church in Kolkata opposed the request, according to Rueters.
“It is not acceptable to the people of India,” he said. “It is the wish and desire of Indian people that her mortals should remain in the headquarters of Mother Teresa. The people of the world have accepted it. The headquarters is the place where she has operated her ministry and this has become a holy shrine to Kolkata, people of India and people of the world.”
Biswas is wrong. Mother Teresa’s remains belong in Albania.
Even though Mother Teresa’s work was centered in India, she was unable to help the Albanian citizens at the time because of the Communist party’s rule.
Enver Hoxha, the Albanian dictator from World War II until his death in April 1985, closed all religious institutions and proclaimed any religious activity illegal.
This made it impossible for her to return to Albania and help those to whom she was closest. Once the Communist regime was overthrown, Mother Teresa returned to Albania and extended her help to the people.
Known for her humanitarian work, especially with the poor, Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. According to CNN, when she accepted the prize she asked for the gala dinner to be canceled and the money sent to help the poor.
During her time in Albania, Mother Teresa greatly influenced everyone despite the country’s various cultures and religions.
According to the CIA World Factbook, 70 percent of Albanian citizens are Muslim, 20 percent are Orthodox and 10 percent are Roman Catholic. Mother Teresa was the most influential person at bringing together Albanians.
And that’s why her remains should be there.
Since Mother Teresa was born in Macedonia, it may try to claim her remains as well. At the time of her birth, however, her parents were ethnic Albanians, and she should be buried in her homeland.
Mother Teresa’s words should make the decision between the countries: “By blood, I am Albanian. By citizenship, an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world.”
Xhenis Berberi is a senior majoring in political science and economics.