The Other Mother Teresa: Why Her Canonization Aroused Outrage

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The Other Mother Teresa: Why Her Canonization Aroused Outrage
The Other Mother Teresa: Why Her Canonization Aroused Outrage

Video: The Other Mother Teresa: Why Her Canonization Aroused Outrage

Video: The Other Mother Teresa: Why Her Canonization Aroused Outrage
Video: The Ugly Truth About Mother Teresa 2023, September

Mother Teresa was proclaimed a saint on September 4, 2016. Her figure has long been an element of mass culture, but why are there so many voices against her canonization?

The Other Mother Teresa: Why Her Canonization Aroused Outrage
The Other Mother Teresa: Why Her Canonization Aroused Outrage

Agnes Gonje Boyajiu (real name of Mother Teresa) was born in Macedonia in 1910. After the death of her father, Agnes was raised only by her mother, and raised in a very religious spirit. Therefore, at the age of 18, the girl joined the Irish Catholic missionary organization Loreto.

It was then that Agnes took the name Teresa and went as a sister of mercy to India, where he was to teach children English. For ten years Teresa decides to fight poverty and starts from the Indian city of Calcutta. First, she opens a school for the poor. Soon he begins to help those in need with food and provide free medical care.

Two years later, in 1950, the Vatican gave Teresa permission to found a monastic congregation “Sisters of the Missionary of Love”.

Mother Teresa's first significant action within the congregation was the opening of an orphanage for the dying. According to official data, people were given medical care at death and held religious rituals, which corresponded to the religion of the person.

After some time, Mother Teresa founded a shelter for the sick with leprosy. And already in 1955 the first orphanage was opened. It was then that real fame came to the mission of Mother Teresa: charitable contributions poured in from all over the world.

The first orphanage of Mother Teresa's mission outside India opened in 1965 in Venezuela, and then there were more and more of them: they opened in Asia, Africa, America and the United States. Mother Teresa's personal popularity increased significantly after the release of the book and film by Malcolm Muggeridge "Something Beautiful for God." In 1979, Teresa received the Nobel Peace Prize with the formulation “For activities to help a person in need”.

Mother Teresa directed her mission until 1997. Six months before her death, she relinquished her leadership. Teresa died at the age of 87 on September 5, 1997. At that time, about 4,000 sisters and 300 brothers belonged to the mission, and more than 100,000 volunteers were involved in the work. Missions worked in 610 centers in 123 countries of the world.

In 2003, Pope John Paul II proclaimed Mother Teresa blessed. And this year Pope Francis canonized her as Saint Teresa of Calcutta.

Suffering or Help?

The first criticism of Mother Teresa's activities appeared rather quickly. To this day, the main complaint about her mission is the quality of the medical services provided in her shelters.

Critics said that no one was saved in her homes for the dying, even if the person had a chance to be cured and survive. The patients did not even receive pain relievers.

In 1991, an article by Robin Fox, editor of the British medical journal The Lancet, became a scandal. He wrote that the Libra orphanages are "haphazard" order. Fox agreed that patients were kept clean, cared for and treated for their wounds, and treated well, but the editor argued that sisters made important decisions about patients without any medical education.

There were not enough real doctors in the shelters, and the sisters simply did not see the difference between curable and incurable patients. Fox also makes a clear distinction between hospices and the homes of the dying Mother Teresa: the latter did not have enough strong painkillers to be considered places where people with minimal suffering meet death. Fox also wrote that the needles were not sterilized, the sisters simply rinsed them with hot water, leaving the risk of blood poisoning.

The same statements were made by the former volunteer of the mission Mary Loudon in the documentary of the famous opponent of Mother Teresa Christopher Hitchens "Angel from Hell Mother Teresa Kolkutska".

No - abortion and other contraceptives

Mother Teresa caused a particularly large flurry of criticism with her attitude to abortion and contraception. Positioning herself as an advocate of the poor, she at the same time argued that there should be no birth control.

“Meanwhile, millions are dying for the reason that such was the will of their mothers. And this is what harms the world the most today,”- one of the first phrases of Mother Teresa's Nobel speech.

And at her speech in Ireland, Mother Teresa addressed people with the following message: “Let's promise to the Virgin Mary, who loves Ireland so much that we will not allow any abortion in the country and no contraceptives.”

This position is natural for a Catholic fundamentalist, but many were surprised that such statements are made by a person who daily looks at the suffering of overpopulated India - a country, suffocates in poverty and disease.

Here it is worth recalling the famous statement of Mother Teresa from the press conference in 1981. To the question "do you teach the poor to endure their fate?" the nun replied: “I find it wonderful when poor people accept their destiny and share their suffering with Christ. I think that the suffering of these people helps the world a lot.”

Million Dollar Indulgence

In the 1990s, claims began also against the financial operations of the sisters from Mother Teresa's organization. One of the first scandals was the connection with the American banker Charles Kiting, who was known as a Catholic fundamentalist. Keating donated $ 1.25 million for Mission Teresa.

And when Keating was accused of fraud and arrested, Mother Teresa wrote a letter to the judge, in which she asked to show leniency to Keating, because he gave a lot to charity."

Deputy District Attorney Paul Tjorli told her. In the letter, he urged Mother Teresa to return the money stolen from ordinary people through fraud. And even quoted the Bible. However, this ended the correspondence. Mother Teresa never responded to the prosecutor's letter.

And in 1991, the German magazine Stern published an article claiming that only 7% of the funds raised by the mission for the year were used for these purposes. Where the rest of the money went is still unknown.

The Stern article cites former minister Susan Shields as saying that at the mission in New York, the sisters spent several hours each evening processing checks for donations that came in the mail. Amounts ranged from five dollars to one hundred thousand. Most donations came before Christmas. Stern estimated the donation volume of all missions at $ 100 million per year.

Robin Fox, whom we have already mentioned, was sincerely surprised why doctors were not invited to the homes of the dying, because the congregation had enough donor funds. According to him, the mission was engaged in imitation of the provision of medical services rather than real help.

The mission was also severely criticized for the fact that during the natural disasters in India, which killed hundreds of thousands, Mother Teresa urged everyone to pray for the victims, but never once donated funds to help them.

Ticket to paradise

Former missionary Susan Shields also recalls that sisters asked a patient at death if he wanted a "ticket to heaven." And if a person, exhausted by suffering and pain, answered in the affirmative, the sister secretly baptized her: she applied a wet cloth to her head, as if for cooling, and quietly performed the ceremony. Shields is the only one who has publicly announced the baptism of Muslims and Hindus in Mother Teresa's dying homes.

Strong friends

Mother Teresa was friends with the mighty of this world. She calmly accepted the award from US President Reagan, whom she criticized for aggressive military campaigns and invasions. In 1981, the nun accepted an award from the Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier, against whom a coup was subsequently made. It turned out that he had appropriated almost all the funds from the state budget, and Mother Teresa spoke of his regime extremely favorably.

She laid flowers on the grave of Enver Hoxha, the totalitarian leader of her native Albania. It was with his instructions that representatives of any religion were cruelly persecuted in the country.

She supported Licho Gelli's candidacy for the Nobel Prize for Literature, although he was involved in murder and corruption in Italy, and also had close ties with the neo-fascist movement and the Argentine military junta.

Double standard

Christopher Hitchens criticized Mother Teresa for the fact that she herself was treated in the best Western and Indian clinics, and did not trust her health to her own mission.

Teresa herself in her diaries and correspondence (at her request, they should have been burned after death, and published instead) repeatedly wrote that she had lost faith in God. For example, here is a quote from a letter to her mentor: “I feel lost. The Lord doesn't love me. God cannot be God. Perhaps he is not."

When Mother Teresa was hospitalized due to heart problems, the Calcutta archbishop offered to conduct an exorcism ceremony, to which Mother Teresa agreed.

Some have criticized the exaltation of Mother Teresa because it fell under the historical colonial tradition of a white woman sacrificing comfort and doing something for black, colored, uneducated and dirty natives. In such a situation, the Western public tends to notice such a character and not see the actions of the locals, which is also trying to improve the situation.

The doctor and writer of Indian descent Arup Chaterjee, who wrote a lot about Mother Teresa, confirms this thesis with the following fact: in 1998, out of 200 charities operating in Calcutta, the Sisters were not the largest. For example, the "Assembly of the Lord" - an organization that was considered the largest, fed about 18,000 people daily.


The canonization of Mother Teresa caused many positive reactions. The US presidential candidates were among the first to rush to comment on her canonization. Donald Trump said that Mother Teresa has lived "an amazing life, full of mercy and holiness," and his rival Hillary Clinton said: "We did not agree on everything [with Mother Teresa], but we found common ground."

By the way, over 10,000 saints have been canonized in the Catholic Church.

At the very birthplace of Teresa's mission in the Indian city of Calcutta, the impression of canonization is ambiguous. Someone had been waiting for this event for years, some Christians held a holiday on the day of canonization, but there are those who were unhappy with the fact that Calcutta was becoming “the city of Mother Teresa”.

In India, opinions are divided. Congress President Sonia Gandhi wrote in a letter to the Vatican that the canonization of Teresa is an honor and joy for every Hindu, not just for Indian Catholics. In India, events are planned to honor the new saint: exhibitions, book presentations, mass. Critics protested against the decision of Prime Minister Modé to send a delegation led by the Minister of Foreign Affairs to the Vatican for Mass, where the canonization took place, and also began collecting signatures for an online petition. which says: "It is inconceivable that a foreign minister of a country whose constitution calls on its citizens to have a scientific stance would approve of canonization based on 'miracles'."

Finally, we offer you documentary books about Mother Teresa with different assessments of her activities, including autobiographical selections from the diaries and letters of the nun herself.

A book by the renowned critic Mother Teresa, a staunch atheist and liberal: Christopher Hitchens. "The Missionary Position: Mother Theresa in Theory and Practice"

Memories of a Former Mission Nun: Colette Livermore “Hope Endures”

A book by an English physicist and writer of Indian origin, he deeply explored the activities of Mother Teresa: Aroup Chatterjee “Mother Teresa: The Final Verdict”.

Biography of Mother Teresa in her own words (excerpts from diaries and letters): "In the heart of the world: Thoughts, stories, prayers"

Another autobiography of Mother Teresa, composed of excerpts from her diaries and letters that remained unpublished for a long time: “Mother Teresa. Be my light”

A selection of the most famous teachings of Mother Teresa: "Mother Teresa: There is no greater love"