The Norwegian Nobel Committee has awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 1979 to Mother Teresa.
Thirty years ago Mother Teresa left her teaching post at a Roman Catholic girls’ school in Calcutta in order to devote her life to working among the poorest of the poor in the slums of that city.
The Roman Catholic order of which she is now the head has in recent years extended its activities to include a number of other Indian cities and other parts of the world.
In making the award the Norwegian Nobel Committee has expressed its recognition of Mother Teresa’s work in bringing help to suffering humanity. This year the world has turned its attention to the plight of children and refugees, and these are precisely the categories for whom Mother Teresa has for many years worked so selflessly.
The Committee has placed special emphasis on the spirit that has inspired her activities and which is the tangible expression of her personal attitude and human qualities.
A feature of her work has been respect for the individual human being, for his or her dignity and innate value. The loneliest, the most wretched and the dying have, at her hands, received compassion without condescension, based on reverence for man.
In Mother Teresa’s case, this basic philosophy of life is firmly rooted in her Christian faith. In Calcutta and elsewhere, she has enlisted the help of assistants from other religious denominations. She has also been recognised by the Indian authorities and by the Asian Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Buddhist U Thant.
This is not the first time the Norwegian Nobel Committee has awarded the Peace Prize for work undertaken in the struggle to overcome poverty and distress in the world, which also constitute a threat to peace. It has awarded the Peace Prize to champions of human rights, including those who have fought for racial equality.
In the eyes of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, constructive efforts to do away with hunger and poverty, and to ensure for mankind safer and better world community in which to develop, should be inspired by the spirit of Mother Teresa, by respect for the worth and dignity of the individual human being.
Oslo, October 27, 1979