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Mother Teresa Opens AIDS Hospice

December 25, 1985 GMT

NEW YORK (AP) _ Urging mercy and support for AIDS sufferers, Mother Teresa has opened a hospice in New York City to care for terminally ill victims of the disease - and has won furloughs from prison for three such patients.

″We want that nobody dies unloved and uncared for,″ the Roman Catholic nun and Nobel Peace Prize winner said at a news conference outside the hospice Tuesday. ″We are hoping that they will be able to live and die in peace by getting tender love and care.″

Mother Teresa started her day by enlisting the help of Mayor Edward I. Koch to win medical furloughs for three state prison inmates who have AIDS. He put her in contact with Gov. Mario Cuomo, who granted the furlough.

″I really felt like a blessed instrument to be the vehicle for making this request,″ Koch said at the news conference. ″I know of no person in the world - and I mean that with all sincerity - who could get government to work so expeditiously as Mother Teresa did.

″Government takes a long time to work, except when a saint calls.″

Mother Teresa, founder of the Missionary Sisters of Charity, called the 14- bed hospice at St. Veronica’s Church in Greenwich Village a ″guest house″ where people with AIDS will be given spiritual comfort as well as medical aid.

Asked about the Christmas Eve opening, she said: ″Because Jesus was also born, so I wanted also to help them to be born in joy and love and peace.″

There is no cure known for acquired immune deficiency syndrome, which destroys the body’s ability to fight disease. Most of its victims in the United States are homosexual men or intravenous drug abusers.

Mother Teresa said the hospice’s first patient moved in Tuesday from St. Clare’s Hospital. The three inmates furloughed from state prison in Ossining went to St. Clare’s, and the nun said she believed two of them were fit enough to move to the hospice in a few days. The three were serving time for robbery.

The hospice is being supported by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, which plans to open as many as possible, Cardinal John J. O’Connor said at the news conference.

″I would hope that we’ll be able to do a great deal, but of course the problem is so great, and the forecasts that the problem will increase, that many, many people, many hands will be needed,″ O’Connor said.

Community opposition has forced cancellation of plans for other AIDS centers in New York City, and O’Connor said, ″I certainly understand. I sympathize. There is so much we don’t know, it can be scary.″