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Mother Teresa

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Mother Teresa in 1988.
Christ died so we may
write articles about

Christianity
Icon christianity.svg
A multi-chef broth
Devil's in the details
The pearly gates
Mother Teresa was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction. (...) Many more people are poor and sick because of the life of Mother Teresa. Even more will be poor and sick if her example is followed. She was a fanatic, a fundamentalist, and a fraud, and a church that officially protects those who violate the innocent has given us another clear sign of where it truly stands on moral and ethical questions.
Christopher Hitchens[1]

There is more: Mother Teresa (real name: Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu), was an Albanian nun who, depending on your level of cynicism, is one of the following:

  1. The most recent example of a saintly person,
  2. The greatest con artist, sham charity embezzler, and sadist the world has seen in the last 50 years, or
  3. A deeply misguided person who put the perceived spiritual needs of those she served over their real, tangible physical needs, or
  4. A very real, very human combination of some or all of the above.

Protestant fundamentalism[edit]

Teresa’s life is a great teaching aid for Protestant apologists, who point out that despite a lifetime of "good works"[note 1], she is burning in hell right now because she never said the magic words, "I Accept the Risen Jesus Christ as my Personal Lord and Savior!"[citation NOT needed] Even Ted BundyWikipedia's W.svg did that before he died.[2][3][4]

Contraception and abortion[edit]

Mother Theresa opposed both contraception and abortion. She was an enemy of women's rights.[5]

Closet atheism[edit]

Mother Theresa could make herself look very sincere in her faith. In reality she experienced a crisis of faith and became more like an atheist or agnostic, writing privately:[6]

I call, I cling, I want ... and there is no One to answer ... no One on Whom I can cling ... no, No One. Alone ... Where is my Faith ... even deep down right in there is nothing, but emptiness & darkness ... My God ... how painful is this unknown pain ... I have no Faith ... I dare not utter the words & thoughts that crowd in my heart ... & make me suffer untold agony. So many unanswered questions live within me afraid to uncover them ... because of the blasphemy ... If there be God ... please forgive me ... When I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives & hurt my very soul. I am told God loves me ... and yet the reality of darkness & coldness & emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul.

Theresa made the poor, helpless people in her institutions suffer for Jesus but was not even certain if God/Jesus exists.

Politicizing the Nobel[edit]

She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.[7] Being all modest and not wanting to take the money credit, she immediately thanked God for it and proceeded to characterise abortion as the greatest threat to world peace.[8]

Meet the stars![edit]

"What may be most telling about Mother Teresa is how often she ended up in front of the cameras. In pictures, she is either shaking the hand of someone powerful, glamorous or ruthless – Ronald Reagan, Princess Diana, François Duvalier – or leaning over someone too weak to stand", according to Moira Donegan.[9] Teresa was photographed with numerous world leaders, also including Yasser Arafat, Edward Kennedy, Indira Gandhi, V P Singh, and members of the British Royal Family. Media studies academic Gezim Alpion wrote a book called Mother Teresa: Saint or Celebrity? Teresa's relationships with other dubious figures included the Haitian dictators Francois and Jean-Claude Duvalier and fraudster Charles Keating.[10]

The Missionary Position[edit]

In his book, The Missionary Position, author Christopher Hitchens—gasp! shock! horror!—dared criticise Mother Teresa for her work. His accusations include that she was primarily a political opportunist, abusing her fame and charity to spread her religious message, rather than help her humanitarian work.[11]

Suffering for Jesus[edit]

Mother Theresa allowed suffering in her institutions with such depressing regularity one would assume she was sure suffering in the name of Jesus is a good thing. Theresa was not even sure God or Jesus exists.

Mother Teresa is thoroughly saturated with a primitive fundamentalist religious worldview that sees pain, hardship, and suffering as ennobling experiences and a beautiful expression of affiliation with Jesus Christ and his ordeal on the cross. Hitchens reports that in a filmed interview Mother Teresa herself tells of a patient suffering unbearable pain from terminal cancer: "With a smile, Mother Teresa told the camera what she told the patient: 'You are suffering like Christ on the cross. So Jesus must be kissing you.'" Apparently unaware that the response of the sufferer was a put-down, she freely related it: "Then please tell him to stop kissing me."[12]

Well-meaning people donate money to Mother Teresa's organisation and imagine that they are helping people. Few realise that donations sometimes help Mother Teresa's order of nuns to hurt people rather than help them. Hemant Mehta relates the following:[13]

Over hundreds of hours of research, much of it cataloged in a book he published in 2003, Dr. Chatterjee said he found a “cult of suffering” in homes run by Mother Teresa’s organization, the Missionaries of Charity, with children tied to beds and little to comfort dying patients but aspirin. He and others said that Mother Teresa took her adherence to frugality and simplicity in her work to extremes, allowing practices like the reuse of hypodermic needles and tolerating primitive facilities that required patients to defecate in front of one another. “[Western audiences] don’t care about whether a third-world city’s dignity or prestige has been hampered by an Albanian nun,” he said. “So, obviously, they may be interested in the lies and the charlatans and the fraud that’s going on, but the whole story, they’re not interested in.”

Donors expected what they gave would go to help poor people, it did not.[14]

A widow, Sarnakar said she was admitted to Nirmal Hriday a decade ago with tuberculosis. Medical care was basic, and Sarnakar recalled that many in the women’s ward did not survive. “The ones who die, they die,” Sarnakar said. “But for those who can get better, the sisters are very good to us.” They die if they don’t get medical treatment. The nun could have spent the money to make that happen, but she gave it to the Vatican instead.[15]

While Mother Theresa was a sadist, she wasn't as masochistic:

[W]hen it came to her own death, Teresa refused to be treated in one of her own unsanitary facilities that glorified and promoted the suffering and pain of others. Researchers said that when it came to her own treatment, “she received it in a modern American hospital.” Apparently for Teresa suffering was beautiful only if it was someone else doing the suffering.[1]

Support of Albanian nationalism[edit]

Mother Teresa visited her ancestral homeland of Albania in August 1989, four years after the death of Enver Hoxha, a brutal Stalinist dictator who turned Albania into the "world's first atheist state". Rather than take this as an opportunity to denounce the Hoxha regime's suppression of religion and the murder of her own people, Mother Teresa practically endorsed it.[16] She was received by Hoxha's widow, Nexhmije, who later described Mother Teresa as a "true patriot" and a "great Albanian" who "came with an open mind and praised our achievements".[17] She subsequently laid a bouquet on Hoxha's grave, and placed a wreath on the statue of Mother Albania, which according to Hitchens:

The ‘Mother Albania' monument, it might be worth emphasizing, is not an abstract symbol of sentimental nationhood. It is the emblem of the cause of Greater Albania. A nearby museum displays the boundaries of this ambition in the form of a map. ‘Mother Albania' turns out to comprise — in addition to the martyred province of Kosovo — a large piece of Serbia and Montenegro, a substantial chunk of formerly Yugoslav Macedonia and most of that part of modern Greece now known as Epirus.[16]

Mother Teresa herself never offered any excuse for these actions, and had furthermore nothing to say when her portrait was being flouted by pro-Greater Albania zealots in Macedonia and Kosovo.[16]

Unpopularity[edit]

This made Hitchens deeply unpopular with people who simply couldn't get their heads around the idea that Mother Teresa might be anything other than an absolutely perfect and spotless saint, even causing him to be angrily cut off during an interview on, of course, Fox News (so much for "Fair and Balanced").[18] Criticisms similar to those made by Hitchens were made in the "Holier Than Thou" episode of Penn & Teller: Bullshit! in 2005 (Hitchens also appeared as a guest on this episode).

Sainthood based on phony miracles[edit]

(…) Following her death, the Vatican decided to waive the usual five-year waiting period to open the beatification process. [JAC: As I recall, it took only a year.] The miracle attributed to Mother Theresa was the healing of a woman, Monica Besra, who had been suffering from intense abdominal pain. The woman testified that she was cured after a medallion blessed by Mother Theresa was placed on her abdomen. Her doctors thought otherwise: the ovarian cyst and the tuberculosis from which she suffered were healed by the drugs they had given her. The Vatican, nevertheless, concluded that it was a miracle. Mother Teresa’s popularity was such that she had become untouchable for the population, which had already declared her a saint. “What could be better than beatification followed by canonization of this model to revitalize the Church and inspire the faithful especially at a time when churches are empty and the Roman authority is in decline?
[19][20]

She was canonized September 4th 2016.[21] Reigniting some of the debates about her "charities" and the value thereof.

It’s nice that Mother Teresa miraculously healed two people, according to her church. How unfortunate, though, that she didn’t bother to heal the many others who have died under the care of her Missionaries of Charity, often in squalid conditions with poor medical treatment, despite the unaccounted-for millions of dollars raised in her name.
—Gregory A. Clark, an associate professor at the University of Utah[22]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. Which weren't actually that good, but let's not get ahead of ourselves