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Mother Teresa: Saint or Fraud? Five controversial facts about her

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Mother Teresa. Image source: Pixabay

With the Vatican recognizing a second ‘miracle’ supposedly performed by Mother Teresa, she is just one step away from being declared as a ‘Saint’. According to reports, Mother Teresa who died in 1997, is likely to be canonized as a ‘saint’ in September 2016.

Though many already consider her a ‘saint’, serious questions have been raised against her life and conduct by many scholars and researchers who have pointed towards her controversial statements, her obsession with poverty, and her connections with dictators.

Here are the five controversies surrounding the supposed ‘saint’:

1. Abortion and Contraception: Mother Teresa has been severely criticized for her opposition to abortion and contraception. While speaking after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, Teresa said: “We are talking of peace. These are things that break peace, but I feel the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a direct war, a direct killing – direct murder by the mother herself.”

She expressed a similar view while speaking in Ireland in 1992: “‘Let us promise Our Lady who loves Ireland so much that we will never allow in this country a single abortion. And no contraceptives.”

She not only openly expressed her opposition to birth control and abortion, but also attempted to influence world leaders to bring anti-abortion laws. She has been criticized for refusing to see the rising problems of over population and their connection to poverty. Amy Ruth in her book ‘Mother Teresa’ says: “But it was Mother Teresa’s stance on abortion and birth control that generated the most criticism. With so many developing countries- including India- dangerously overpopulated, her critics were outraged by her very vocal belief that a family could never have too many children, regardless of their financial situation.”

Her obsession with abortion was so strong that, in the aftermath of Bhopal gas tragedy, when she was asked: How has the tragedy affected you? She replied: “We are so excited because it has affected us. No one thinks of millions of abortions taking place all over!”

2. Glorification of poverty and suffering: Teresa has also been criticized for being obsessed with poverty and glorifying suffering. Once, when a journalist asked her- 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.”

Mother Teresa Monument in Skopje. Wikimedia Commons
Mother Teresa Monument in Skopje. Wikimedia Commons

Carol Hunt writes: “Evidence – and her own words – show that Mother Teresa was not so much a “champion of the poor” but a religious fanatic who took pleasure in their suffering. Not only did she refuse to alleviate the pain of her patients but she gloried in it. As she herself said: “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.”

Hunt further describes how the ‘Home for the Dying‘ in Calcutta was deliberately kept as barren, destitute and inadequate to the needs of her patients. According to a Canadian study conducted by Serge Larivée and released in 2013, Teresa had opened around 517 centers across the world for serving the sick and the poor but there was significant lack of hygiene, even unfit conditions, as well as a shortage of actual care, inadequate food, and no painkillers.

Thus, Christopher Hitchens, who is perhaps her strongest critic, concludes: 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.”

3. Shadow accounting and questionable relationships: Mother Teresa was widely known to be associated with questionable people including dictators and corrupt tycoons. In 1981, she had accepted ‘Legion d’Honneur’ from Haiti’s then Dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier, who had stolen millions of dollars from the poor country. She had endorsed the Albanian tyrant Enver Hoxha’s regime and had close contact with Hoxha’s wife Nexhmije.

Teresa accepted millions of dollars from corrupt people who had swindled public money. Charles Keating, who was convicted for investment fraud that caused the wipe out of around 160 million dollars of savings, has been reported to have donated more than 1 million dollars to Teresa. She had also accepted donations from British publisher Robert Maxwell, who swindled around 450 million UK pounds from his employee’s pension funds.

Inspite of getting huge donations, the missions started by Teresa for the poor and sick lacked even the basic facilities. Thus, Larivée asks: “Given the parsimonious management of Mother Theresa’s works, one may ask where the millions of dollars for the poorest of the poor have gone?”

4. Baptism and conversions: Mother Teresa has been often accused of indulging in Baptism and conversion of the poor and the sick into Christianity. This is further reinforced by her own admission that her primary concern is to bring people into Christianity. Recently, Meenakshi Lekhi quoted Navin Chawla’s biography of Teresa, where Teresa says: a lot of people confuse me as social worker, I am not a social worker. I am in the service of Jesus and my job is to spread the word of Christianity and bring people to its fold.

Hitchens, in his book The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice’ quotes Susan Shields as saying: “For Mother, it was the spiritual well-being of the poor that mattered most. Material aid was a means of reaching their souls, of showing the poor that God loved them. In the homes for the dying, Mother taught the sisters how to secretly baptize those who were dying. Sisters were to ask each person in danger of death if he wanted a ‘ticket to heaven’. An affirmative reply was to mean consent to baptism. The sister was then to pretend she was just cooling the person’s forehead with a wet cloth, while in fact she was baptizing him, saying quietly the necessary words. Secrecy was important so that it would not come to be known that Mother Teresa’s sisters were baptizing Hindus and Moslems.

5. Loss of faith: Though, Mother Teresa supposedly spent her entire life in serving people and spreading the message of Jesus Christ, a collection of her letters and personal correspondences published as a book titled ‘Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light’ in 2007 revealed that she spent her last five decades in a crisis of faith with sensing the presence of God. In more than 40 communications Teresa expresses feelings of “dryness” and “darkness” and doubts the very existence of God.

Commenting on this Hitchens says: “She was no more exempt from the realization that religion is a human fabrication than any other person, and that her attempted cure was more and more professions of faith, which could only have deepened the pit that she had dug for herself.”

 

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    I clearly disagree with the statements used for birth control.

  • Sridhar Kannayaram

    According to Krishna a soul is born many a times until reaches perfection of mind.teresa was a incarnate of Magdalene who wanted huge mass to follow Jesus,as teresa,she did exactly that
    Nothing more.

  • Ubiquitous

    A truly wicked, nasty woman. I hope she died in as much pain as her victims.

  • Jagpreet Kaur Sandhu

    Controversies involve great work… some points can be undoubtedly agreed.

  • Manoj Sethi

    As the saying goes, “there can be no smoke without a fire”. All said and done, she was a messiah for the poor, needy and outcast. She was able to provide them with a shelter and food and clothing. Nobody is perfect. She too was not perfect and I believe not qualified to be a saint. However, now that she is no more there to defend herself, let us not undermine her efforts at addressing one of the major problems of the underworld countries – poverty.

  • Ravi G

    I am not a great admire rof her work. But all these 5 points look too silly

  • Shweta

    How do u break a society? Well, start with the basics. Create rifts. Well, among many other ways, attack their beliefs. Pick up all the key people, for whom a majority of the society holds respect, and create a completely inverse image of that personality. Some will believe, some will not, some will be offended. Bravo!! You have successfully created groups with different mindsets. Now use them later, to make one fight with another by simply mixing them with some more controversial ingredients later, like religion / faith / region / blah / blah /blah.. BUT, you could have at least left ‘her’ out of this!

  • Krishna Rao

    Each of the five points are excellent. It addresses her in a nutshell. Thanks for posting this.

  • Krishna Rao

    She was a fraud. That simple.

  • Aakash Mandyal

    We do not know what is ground reality?…..but we can not deny the services which were rendered by her to the world. The visible reality for which she got Nobel Peace prize and initially the services she offered in kolkata is quite admirable.

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    I clearly disagree with the statements used for birth control.

  • Sridhar Kannayaram

    According to Krishna a soul is born many a times until reaches perfection of mind.teresa was a incarnate of Magdalene who wanted huge mass to follow Jesus,as teresa,she did exactly that
    Nothing more.

  • Ubiquitous

    A truly wicked, nasty woman. I hope she died in as much pain as her victims.

  • Jagpreet Kaur Sandhu

    Controversies involve great work… some points can be undoubtedly agreed.

  • Manoj Sethi

    As the saying goes, “there can be no smoke without a fire”. All said and done, she was a messiah for the poor, needy and outcast. She was able to provide them with a shelter and food and clothing. Nobody is perfect. She too was not perfect and I believe not qualified to be a saint. However, now that she is no more there to defend herself, let us not undermine her efforts at addressing one of the major problems of the underworld countries – poverty.

  • Ravi G

    I am not a great admire rof her work. But all these 5 points look too silly

  • Shweta

    How do u break a society? Well, start with the basics. Create rifts. Well, among many other ways, attack their beliefs. Pick up all the key people, for whom a majority of the society holds respect, and create a completely inverse image of that personality. Some will believe, some will not, some will be offended. Bravo!! You have successfully created groups with different mindsets. Now use them later, to make one fight with another by simply mixing them with some more controversial ingredients later, like religion / faith / region / blah / blah /blah.. BUT, you could have at least left ‘her’ out of this!

  • Krishna Rao

    Each of the five points are excellent. It addresses her in a nutshell. Thanks for posting this.

  • Krishna Rao

    She was a fraud. That simple.

  • Aakash Mandyal

    We do not know what is ground reality?…..but we can not deny the services which were rendered by her to the world. The visible reality for which she got Nobel Peace prize and initially the services she offered in kolkata is quite admirable.

Next Story

Road to Sainthood Started in Small Kosovo Church: Mother Teresa to be canonized by Catholic Church on September 4

A devout Catholic from an early age, she would later reveal that it was in the Church of the Blessed Lady in Letnica that she decided to adopt a life of religious devotion

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Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta and father Ante Gabric SJ | by zatletic. Image source: Flickr

he world will watch as Mother Teresa – a woman whom the world has come to know as a humanitarian and founder of the Missionaries of Charity, will be canonized by the Catholic Church on September 4.

A small community in Kosovo is celebrating this momentous occasion and remembering the role their congregation played in inspiring the young woman to a life of devotion, where once she spent time in her youth.

To the world, Mother Teresa came to be known as the mother of the poor and the needy, a symbol of a life of service to mankind. She began her charity work in India, where she was sent in 1929 by her religious congregation, the Loreto Sisters of Dublin. But she embraced her calling in the small Kosovo village of Letnica. Then a young woman of 18, she lived in Kosovo, where her family had resettled from her native Macedonia.

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A devout Catholic from an early age, she would later reveal that it was in the Church of the Blessed Lady in Letnica that she decided to adopt a life of religious devotion.

The church today serves a community of 500 Catholics, in a village populated mostly by Albanians, with a small Croatian minority. The congregation is headed by Father Marjan Lorenci.

“This is where Mother Teresa felt the holy calling, after she arrived here from Macedonia, from Skopje. She came here because God brought her here with her family, and it is here that she heard God’s word. This is where she took her steps on the path to serve God, and what’s more important, to serve her fellow man,” Lorenci said.

For the local community, the canonization is a source of pride and a chance to share the famous missionary of Albanian origin with the world. Kosovare Xhoni, a member of the congregation, feels privileged.

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“I was born and raised here, and I am very proud to have received my religious teachings at the same church where Mother Teresa first felt her calling,” Xhoni said.

Father Lush Gjergji, who first met Mother Teresa in 1968 and has written extensively on the Nobel laureate, says Letnica was always in her itinerary every time she visited Kosovo.

“The one place which she always visited was Letnica; it was her spiritual sanctuary,” said Gjergji, who serves as vicar of the Kosovo Archbishopric.

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Mother Teresa visited Kosovo five times after she became a nun. But it is her charitable work around the world that garnered her international fame and the adoration of millions.

On September 4, the Catholic Church will formally declare her a saint, immortalizing a life of dedication that got its first inspiration in a church in a small Kosovo village. (VOA)

 

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Mother Teresa’s appeal is universal, says Chief of Catholic Bishop’s Conference of India

Currently, Indian Catholics have three native saints and besides the two canonizations in 2014, Sister Alphonsa was the first Indian to be canonised in 2008

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Mother Teresa, Wikimedia

Thiruvananthapuram, August 31, 2016: Mother Teresa’s appeal is universal- cutting across caste, creed and religious barriers, every individual can seek inspiration from her life, work and sacrifice, the head of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of India(CBCI) has said.

“Her appeal is universal. Her life is a role model worth emulating, cutting across caste, creed or religion. Her sympathy and empathy for the poorest of the poor is what made her great and on September 4, her name and fame will reach greater heights,” Cardinal Moran Mar Baselios Cleemis Catholicos, 57, popularly called Old Cleemis, said.

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In a chat with IANS, just before his departure to the Vatican to take part in the canonization rituals, Old Cleemis, who is the head of the Syro Malankara Catholic Church here, said he was delighted to be a part of the celebrations.

“Definitely, it’s a moment of personal joy that I am taking part in the canonization of the Mother, whom I have met,” he added.

Cleemis was part of the celebrations in 2014 when two native saints, Kuriakose Elias Chavara (Chavara Achen) and Sister Euphrasia (Evuprasiamma), were canonised.

He never had the opportunity to meet the two, but he proudly recalled his meeting with Mother Teresa. As a young theology student, he had briefly interacted with the Mother when she came to Kottayam in 1980 for the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the Malankara movement.

“She undoubtedly was the star of the moment and won the hearts of everyone through her gentle behaviour,” recalled Cleemis, who himself created a record of sorts by becoming India’s youngest cardinal in 2012.

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Currently, Indian Catholics have three native saints. Besides the two canonizations in 2014, Sister Alphonsa was the first Indian to be canonised in 2008.

Cleemis also pointed to great the honours that Mother had been conferred with- the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, Bharat Ratna in 1980 and now this, the crowning glory, when she will be elevated as a saint.

“The greatness of the Mother is the way she took care of the poor and downtrodden by showing them mercy. The orphans should know that they are not alone as she has laid the path for many to follow and many have already taken up her cause,” Cleemis said. (IANS)

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Kolkata celebrates Mother Teresa’s 106th Birth Anniversary

Mother Teresa is set to be canonised by Pope Francis at the Vatican on September 4, a day ahead of her 19th death anniversary

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Mutter Teresa. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

There are no great things, only small things with great love. Happy are those.

– Mother Teresa

Kolkata, August 26, 2016: Days before she is declared a saint by the Vatican, special masses and prayers marked Mother Teresa’s 106th birth anniversary celebrations here on Friday.

Candles were lit and the nun’s grave at Mother House- the global headquarters of her Catholic order Missionaries of Charity- was decorated with flowers as the sisters and other eminent persons sang hymns, read from the Bible and recalled her celebrated life.

Mother Teresa is set to be canonised by Pope Francis at the Vatican on September 4, a day ahead of her 19th death anniversary.

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By a coincidence, Mother Teresa died on September 5, 1997, barely 10 days after her 86th birthday.

A large number of people, including school children and residents of the various homes run by the MoC, congregated at Mother House, which wore a festive look.

A special prayer card for the faithful read: “We thank you (Lord Jesus) for the gift of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, who will be canonised in this Jubilee Year of Mercy.”

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Similar programmes were organised at the other homes run by the Missionaries of Charity.

The four-day Mother Teresa International Film Festival (MTIFF), which would feature 23 foreign and Indian films made on or inspired by the Nobel laureate, was inaugurated during the day at the state government-run auditorium Nandan.

Paying homage, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted: “My deepest respect on the birth anniversary of Mother Teresa.”

Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity, Sister Prema, who is already in the Vatican, said in a message that the order was looking forward to the celebrations of the Mother’s sainthood with great joy.

“It will be a moment when gathered around Mother we shall have an experience of universal family of the children of the one Heavenly Father. The difference of caste, creed, colour, rich, poor will not prevent us from rejoicing together in the honour bestowed on Mother,” said Sister Prema.

Underscoring that the sainthood to be bestowed on the Mother would inspire the people in Kolkata as also all over the world to follow her example of humble services for everyone, she said: “Mother is with God and as she promised us she continues to light the light of hope and peace in everyone’s heart.” (IANS)

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