The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has announced that the Postmaster General will dedicate its new stamp honoring Mother Teresa on Sept. 5 at a ceremony at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. The U.S. Post Office looks forward to a “very dignified and successful” ceremony, a spokesman said.
In a May 10 phone call, Roy Betts, a community relations manager with the USPS Stamps department, talked with CNA about the dedication of the stamp.
Reporting that the ceremony will take place at 2:00 p.m. in the afternoon, he said that Postmaster General Jack Potter has been confirmed as the dedicating official.
However, nothing more had been planned to his knowledge and he did not know what Catholic officials were planning for the ceremony.
CNA asked about concerns about whether the stamp affects constitutional issues such as the separation of church and state.
Betts acknowledged there had been “a little activity, a little noise” about the issue when the stamp was first announced, but any controversy has since faded.
“In the past month or so, I've not received a single call or e-mail or anything about the concerns that others have raised,” he reported.
Initial complaints about the stamp were raised by the Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation. People supportive of the Mother Teresa stamp sent a petition with more than 70,000 signatures to the Postmaster General this past February.
“The stamp program recognizes Mother Teresa for her work as a humanitarian. She was a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, she was an honorary U.S. citizen. Her work on behalf of the poor is being recognized. And this honor is being bestowed on her, and it is well deserved.”
According to Betts, the U.S. Postal Service is not violating its own policy on the issue, which forbids singling out a religious organization for honors.
“This is recognition of a humanitarian who is world-renowned,” he explained.
Betts listed several religious figures honored by the USPS, such as a 1961 Mahatma Ghandi stamp and a 1979 stamp honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Catholic figures on stamps included a 1982 edition of a St. Francis of Assisi stamp and a 1986 stamp honoring Fr. Edward J. Flanagan, founder of the Boys Town orphanage.
Religious buildings featured on stamps have included the Episcopalian Washington National Cathedral and the Baltimore Cathedral.
“We’re just honored and proud to honor, to recognize Mother Teresa,” Betts said.
He said the USPS looks forward to “a very dignified and successful ceremony” at the dedication of her stamp.