Welcome to DU! The truly grassroots left-of-center political community where regular people, not algorithms, drive the discussions and set the standards. Join the community: Create a free account Support DU (and get rid of ads!): Become a Star Member Latest Breaking News General Discussion The DU Lounge All Forums Issue Forums Culture Forums Alliance Forums Region Forums Support Forums Help & Search


(115,012 posts)
Tue Sep 6, 2016, 12:58 PM Sep 2016

Mother Teresa Was No Saint

Mother Teresa Was No Saint

On September 4 of this year, Mother Teresa will become Saint Teresa. This is unsurprising; she was beatified in 2003, which is sort of a one-way road to canonization. But it’s the last thing we need. She was no saint.

To canonize Mother Teresa would be to seal the lid on her problematic legacy, which includes forced conversion, questionable relations with dictators, gross mismanagement, and actually, pretty bad medical care. Worst of all, she was the quintessential white person expending her charity on the third world — the entire reason for her public image, and the source of immeasurable scarring to the postcolonial psyche of India and its diaspora. A 2013 study from the University of Ottawa dispelled the “myth of altruism and generosity” surrounding Mother Teresa, concluding that her hallowed image did not stand up to the facts, and was basically the result of a forceful media campaign from an ailing Catholic Church.

Although she had 517 missions in 100 countries at the time of her death, the study found that hardly anyone who came seeking medical care found it there. Doctors observed unhygienic, “even unfit,” conditions, inadequate food, and no painkillers — not for lack of funding, in which Mother Theresa’s world-famous order was swimming, but what the study authors call her “particular conception of suffering and death.”
“There is something beautiful in seeing the poor accept their lot, to suffer it like Christ’s Passion. The world gains much from their suffering,” Mother Teresa once told the unamused Christopher Hitchens. Even within the bounds of Christian notions of blessed meekness, what kind of perverse logic underlies such thinking?

The answer, unsurprisingly, given the locale of her work, is racist colonialism. Despite the 100 countries’ missions, and her Albanian birthplace, Mother Teresa is of India and India begat Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. And there, she became what the historian Vijay Prashad dubbed “the quintessential image of the white woman in the colonies, working to save the dark bodies from their own temptations and failures. “ Her image is entirely circumscribed by colonial logic: that of the white savior shining a light on the world’s poorest brown people.

Mother Teresa was a martyr — not for India’s and the global South’s poor — but for white, bourgeois guilt. (As Prashad says, it functioned as this instead of, not on top of, a “genuine challenge to those forces that produce and maintain poverty.”) And how did she even help said brown people? Dubiously if at all. She had a persistent “ulterior motive” to convert some of India’s most vulnerable and sick to Christianity, as the chief of a Hindu nationalist NGO said last year. There are even a number of accounts that she and her nuns tried to baptize the dying.

. . . .


Mommie Dearest

The pope beatifies Mother Teresa, a fanatic, a fundamentalist, and a fraud.
By Christopher Hitchens

Raveendran/AFP/Getty Images

. . . . .
I think it was Macaulay who said that the Roman Catholic Church deserved great credit for, and owed its longevity to, its ability to handle and contain fanaticism. This rather oblique compliment belongs to a more serious age. What is so striking about the "beatification" of the woman who styled herself "Mother" Teresa is the abject surrender, on the part of the church, to the forces of showbiz, superstition, and populism.
It's the sheer tawdriness that strikes the eye first of all. It used to be that a person could not even be nominated for "beatification," the first step to "sainthood," until five years after his or her death. This was to guard against local or popular enthusiasm in the promotion of dubious characters. The pope nominated MT a year after her death in 1997. It also used to be that an apparatus of inquiry was set in train, including the scrutiny of an advocatus diaboli or "devil's advocate," to test any extraordinary claims. The pope has abolished this office and has created more instant saints than all his predecessors combined as far back as the 16th century.

As for the "miracle" that had to be attested, what can one say? Surely any respectable Catholic cringes with shame at the obviousness of the fakery. A Bengali woman named Monica Besra claims that a beam of light emerged from a picture of MT, which she happened to have in her home, and relieved her of a cancerous tumor. Her physician, Dr. Ranjan Mustafi, says that she didn't have a cancerous tumor in the first place and that the tubercular cyst she did have was cured by a course of prescription medicine. Was he interviewed by the Vatican's investigators? No. (As it happens, I myself was interviewed by them but only in the most perfunctory way. The procedure still does demand a show of consultation with doubters, and a show of consultation was what, in this case, it got.)
. . . . .

During the deliberations over the Second Vatican Council, under the stewardship of Pope John XXIII, MT was to the fore in opposing all suggestions of reform. What was needed, she maintained, was more work and more faith, not doctrinal revision. Her position was ultra-reactionary and fundamentalist even in orthodox Catholic terms. Believers are indeed enjoined to abhor and eschew abortion, but they are not required to affirm that abortion is "the greatest destroyer of peace," as MT fantastically asserted to a dumbfounded audience when receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.* Believers are likewise enjoined to abhor and eschew divorce, but they are not required to insist that a ban on divorce and remarriage be a part of the state constitution, as MT demanded in a referendum in Ireland (which her side narrowly lost) in 1996. Later in that same year, she told Ladies Home Journal that she was pleased by the divorce of her friend Princess Diana, because the marriage had so obviously been an unhappy one …

This returns us to the medieval corruption of the church, which sold indulgences to the rich while preaching hellfire and continence to the poor. MT 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. And she was a friend to the worst of the rich, taking misappropriated money from the atrocious Duvalier family in Haiti (whose rule she praised in return) and from Charles Keating of the Lincoln Savings and Loan. Where did that money, and all the other donations, go? The primitive hospice in Calcutta was as run down when she died as it always had been—she preferred California clinics when she got sick herself—and her order always refused to publish any audit. But we have her own claim that she opened 500 convents in more than a hundred countries, all bearing the name of her own order. Excuse me, but this is modesty and humility?

. . . .


. . . . . .

Questionable relationships

In 1981, Teresa flew to Haiti to accept the Legion d'Honneur from the right-wing dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier, who years later, after his ousting, was found to have stolen millions of dollars from the impoverished country.[citation needed] In The Missionary Position, Hitchens leveled criticism at what was perceived to be Mother Teresa's endorsement of the regime of Enver Hoxha in Socialist Albania. She had visited Albania in August 1989, where she was received by Hoxha's widow, Nexhmije, Foreign Minister Reis Malile, Minister of Health, Ahmet Kamberi, the Chairman of the People's Assembly Petro Dode, and other state and party officials. She subsequently laid a bouquet on Hoxha's grave, and placed a wreath on the statue of Mother Albania.[6] However, her supporters[who?] defended such associations, saying she had to deal with political realities of the time in order to lobby for her causes.[citation needed]

She accepted money from the British publisher Robert Maxwell, who, as was later revealed, embezzled UK£450 million from his employees' pension funds. There is no suggestion that she was aware of any theft before accepting the donation in either case. Criticism does focus on Teresa's plea for leniency in the Charles Keating case, where Keating was charged with fraud following high-profile business failures. Keating donated millions of dollars to Mother Teresa and lent her his private jet when she visited the United States. She refused to return the money, and praised Keating repeatedly.[7]
. . . . .
Motivation of charitable activities

Chatterjee stated that the public image of Mother Teresa as a "helper of the poor" was misleading, and that only a few hundred people are served by even the largest of the homes. In 1998, among the 200 charitable assistance organisations reported to operate in Calcutta, Missionaries of Charity was not ranked among the largest charity organisations–with the Assembly of God charity notably serving a greater number of the poor at 18,000 meals daily.[9] Chatterjee alleged that many operations of the order engage in no charitable activity at all but instead use their funds for missionary work. He stated, for example, that none of the eight facilities that the Missionaries of Charity run in Papua New Guinea have any residents in them, being purely for the purpose of converting local people to Catholicism.

She was sometimes accused by Hindus in her adopted country of trying to convert the poor to Catholicism by "stealth".[10] Christopher Hitchens described Mother Teresa's organisation as a cult that promoted suffering and did not help those in need. He said that Mother Teresa's own words on poverty proved that her intention was not to help people, quoting her words at a 1981 press conference in which she was asked: "Do you teach the poor to endure their lot?" She replied: "I think it is very beautiful for the poor to accept their lot, to share it with the passion of Christ. I think the world is being much helped by the suffering of the poor people."[6]

. . . .


. . . .

Why On Earth Is The Catholic Church Making Mother Teresa A Saint?

. . . . .

Though Mother Theresa’s medical centers were meant to heal people, patients were subjected to conditions that often made them even sicker. In the same documentary, an Indian journalist compared Mother Teresa’s flagship location for “Missionaries of Charity” to photographs he had seen of Nazi Germany’s Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. “Workers washed needles under tap water and then reused them. Medicine and other vital items were stored for months on end, expiring and still applied sporadically to patients,” said Hemley Gonzalez, a noted humanitarian worker in Indoa, when describing the Missionaries of Charity location he briefly volunteered at.

“Volunteers with little or no training carried out dangerous work on patients with highly contagious cases of tuberculosis and other life-threatening illnesses. The individuals who operated the charity refused to accept and implement medical equipment and machinery that would have safely automated processes and saved lives.”

It wasn’t just a select few cynical journalists who criticized Mother Teresa’s hospice care, either. In her hospice care centers, Mother Teresa practiced her belief that patients only needed to feel wanted and die at peace with God — not receive proper medical care — and medical experts went after her for it. In 1994, the British medical journal The Lancet claimed that medicine was scarce in her hospice centers and that patients received nothing close to what they needed to relieve their pain.

Doctors took to calling her locations “homes for the dying,” and such a name was warranted. Mother Teresa’s Calcutta home for the sick had a mortality rate of more than 40 percent. But in her view, this wasn’t a bad thing, as she believed that the suffering of the poor and sick was more of a glory than a burden.

*******“There is something beautiful in seeing the poor accept their lot, to suffer it like Christ’s Passion,” Mother Teresa said. “The world gains much from their suffering.”*****

. . . .


40 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
Highlight: NoneDon't highlight anything 5 newestHighlight 5 most recent replies
Mother Teresa Was No Saint (Original Post) niyad Sep 2016 OP
I only regret that I have but one K&R to give to this post The Polack MSgt Sep 2016 #1
sadly, you are quite correct niyad Sep 2016 #2
+1000 smirkymonkey Sep 2016 #25
Nailed it. nt SusanCalvin Sep 2016 #38
Me too. GoneOffShore Sep 2016 #30
I would have thought... Mike Nelson Sep 2016 #3
even things that don't happen!! niyad Sep 2016 #5
Indeed. She was a horrible person. R&K nt longship Sep 2016 #4
K & R for exposure. SunSeeker Sep 2016 #6
Yeah, but they need new saints. HassleCat Sep 2016 #7
Marketing is the name of the game. trotsky Sep 2016 #10
Looks like she is one now! misterhighwasted Sep 2016 #8
k and r Stuart G Sep 2016 #9
lets hope trump does not hire her pr firm dembotoz Sep 2016 #11
Come on - it's all BS malaise Sep 2016 #12
it's a vatican PR stunt to raise $$. sainthood is a racket nt msongs Sep 2016 #13
That whole miracle requirement makes me think none of them really are. ToxMarz Sep 2016 #14
'Mother Teresa will be the patron saint of white people on gap years' LynneSin Sep 2016 #15
Hitchens did a vidja about her. MynameisBlarney Sep 2016 #16
Hitchens, rightly, put Theresa in her place. progressoid Sep 2016 #20
Aye MynameisBlarney Sep 2016 #22
One of C. Hitchens many critiques on this "saint" was.... wolfie001 Sep 2016 #23
The woman was deranged! smirkymonkey Sep 2016 #26
It was barbaric MynameisBlarney Sep 2016 #32
The sick thing is she had the means and money to help smirkymonkey Sep 2016 #33
It can make you mad cry just thinking of the unnecessary suffering! wolfie001 Sep 2016 #34
Sounds eerily similar to MynameisBlarney Sep 2016 #36
Ain't that the truth. SusanCalvin Sep 2016 #39
(Shrug) The Church made a Roman tax collector the patron saint of bankers. Spitfire of ATJ Sep 2016 #17
Wow, brutal, but true Saviolo Sep 2016 #18
K&R nt lillypaddle Sep 2016 #19
"Mother Teresa was a martyr ... for white, bourgeois guilt" progressoid Sep 2016 #21
Yep, bingo. trotsky Sep 2016 #24
Lets see... tavernier Sep 2016 #27
The Vatican chose him to play the Devil's Advocate wolfie001 Sep 2016 #35
The Albania poison dwarf. GoneOffShore Sep 2016 #28
The so-called "University of Ottawa study" was conducted by struggle4progress Sep 2016 #29
I figured that "study" was bogus. Apparently The_Casual_Observer Sep 2016 #31
I agree BlueInPhilly Sep 2016 #37
Hitchens's research was used by the Vatican REP Sep 2016 #40

The Polack MSgt

(13,249 posts)
1. I only regret that I have but one K&R to give to this post
Tue Sep 6, 2016, 01:10 PM
Sep 2016

Even by the standards of the child raping RC church this woman was a fraud and a disgrace



(63,221 posts)
25. +1000
Tue Sep 6, 2016, 04:04 PM
Sep 2016

"I think it is very beautiful for the poor to accept their lot, to share it with the passion of Christ. I think the world is being much helped by the suffering of the poor people."

What a sociopath!



(6,409 posts)
7. Yeah, but they need new saints.
Tue Sep 6, 2016, 02:10 PM
Sep 2016

In the old days, it was easy to phony up some miracles, cleanse the reputation, etc. Now the path to sainthood is so obviously fake that we can see right through it. Doesn't stop them, though. They are, after all, a superstitious cult from the middle ages. What else would we expect?


(49,533 posts)
10. Marketing is the name of the game.
Tue Sep 6, 2016, 02:54 PM
Sep 2016

Can't kill 'em or forcibly convert them via torture anymore, so they gotta bump up the advertising.


(95,337 posts)
15. 'Mother Teresa will be the patron saint of white people on gap years'
Tue Sep 6, 2016, 03:13 PM
Sep 2016

At the end of Huffington post - I about spit my coffee out from snarking after I read that comment.


(2,529 posts)
23. One of C. Hitchens many critiques on this "saint" was....
Tue Sep 6, 2016, 03:58 PM
Sep 2016

.....that she had a habit of removing linoleum surfaces (too modern) and replacing them with porous wooden ones (bacteria spreaders) in kitchens and other areas that should have been kept as sterile as possible. She was definitely anti-modern.



(63,221 posts)
26. The woman was deranged!
Tue Sep 6, 2016, 04:06 PM
Sep 2016

How did she ever get away with what she did throughout her lifetime? It's absolutely criminal!



(63,221 posts)
33. The sick thing is she had the means and money to help
Tue Sep 6, 2016, 04:39 PM
Sep 2016

them or at least relieve their suffering. She didn't - she just let them suffer and die to preserve her own perverse fantasy of religious piety. Of course when it came time for her to get sick and suffer, nothing but the best would do for her.


(2,529 posts)
34. It can make you mad cry just thinking of the unnecessary suffering!
Tue Sep 6, 2016, 04:49 PM
Sep 2016

And now she's a saint. As the church lady says, "Well, isn't that special!"


(6,592 posts)
39. Ain't that the truth.
Tue Sep 6, 2016, 06:12 PM
Sep 2016

Except, as far as I know, Rand didn't deliberately let people in her care die in pain she had the means to alleviate.


(49,533 posts)
24. Yep, bingo.
Tue Sep 6, 2016, 04:03 PM
Sep 2016

And those of us who remain unfooled are threatening the comfort she gave to those feeling such guilt.


(12,518 posts)
27. Lets see...
Tue Sep 6, 2016, 04:08 PM
Sep 2016

Christopher Hitchens or Mother Teresa... ??

Interesting choice, since I never found much of anything Hitchens spouted as believable.


(2,529 posts)
35. The Vatican chose him to play the Devil's Advocate
Tue Sep 6, 2016, 04:53 PM
Sep 2016

That's the tie-in. I despise his obsession with the Clinton's but on other topics he was sometimes brilliantly irreverent.


(118,566 posts)
29. The so-called "University of Ottawa study" was conducted by
Tue Sep 6, 2016, 04:09 PM
Sep 2016

Serge Larivée, Geneviève Chénard, and Carole Sénéchal

Serge Larivée's University of Montreal webpage states:
... I focus on developmental approaches of intelligence ... I am interested in the determinants of intelligence in an epigenetic perspective (interaction between genes and the environment), the comparisons between groups (gender and ethnic groups). Finally, I work on one of the most intriguing phenomena in the field of intelligence the "Flynn Effect" which highlights the generational increase in IQ scores ...

It is entirely unclear why this qualifies him to speak on issues of social work among the poor in India

Carole Sénéchal University of Ottawa webpage states: Carole Senechal did her doctoral studies at the University of Quebec in Montreal in psychology .. and at the University of Montreal in psychology. Her first doctorate focused on autism and the second on burnout and organizational behavior. Since the end of her studies, her research .. focuses .. autism , mental health and psychopathology in children and adolescents and psychological health problems of teachers and school leaders ...

It is entirely unclear why this qualifies her to speak on issues of social work among the poor in India

Geneviève Chénard works at the University of Montreal as Chargée de cours. In this interview, she admits the so-called "study" involved no original research: We found 287 books and articles on Mother Teresa (of which) 153 ... were hagiography. In fact, when asked Did you do field work in Calcutta at all? Chénard replied: No. But I’d like to go to Calcutta



(27,742 posts)
31. I figured that "study" was bogus. Apparently
Tue Sep 6, 2016, 04:21 PM
Sep 2016

It's the only study on this subject since the MT haters site nothing else but that stupid hateful Hitchens "essay". Only a nasty old drunk bastard like Hitchens would have the nerve to take on MT.

It's sad that this thread is loaded with ignorant bullshit.


(870 posts)
37. I agree
Tue Sep 6, 2016, 05:21 PM
Sep 2016

Whether or not she was fiscally savvy nor politically smart is not as important as whether she loved God and "her neighbors". In that aspect, I absolutely do not doubt that she did. She was a product of her times, she was slow to accept modernization, she was deeply flawed in her orthodoxy. She was by no means perfect.

So let history decide whether her earthly work would survive the test of time.

It is not hurting any of you that she was canonized. Please let it be.


(21,691 posts)
40. Hitchens's research was used by the Vatican
Tue Sep 6, 2016, 06:38 PM
Sep 2016

They did not dispute its validity.

Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu was a deeply ugly, hateful woman. If the Vatican wants to make more money selling trinkets with her loathsome visage stamped upon them, fine, but let's drop the pretense she had any virtues besides a talent for torture, hypocrisy and hoarding money for her own lavish health care (and who knows what else).

Latest Discussions»General Discussion»Mother Teresa Was No Sain...