What Fresh Hell Is This?

March 7, 2013

Mother Teresa, Saint or Fraud?

The iconography of Mother Teresa took a bit of a hit this week with this report that:
A study conducted by Canadian researchers has called Mother Teresa "anything but a saint", a creation of an orchestrated and effective media campaign who was generous with her prayers but miserly with her foundation's millions when it came to humanity's suffering.
And here's what they did and how they did it:
Researchers Serge Larivee and Genevieve Chenard from the University of Montreal's department of psychoeducation, and Carole Senechal of the University of Ottawa's faculty of education, analysed published writings about Mother Teresa and concluded that her hallowed image, "which does not stand up to analysis of the facts, was constructed, and that her beatification was orchestrated by an effective media campaign".

According to Larivee, facts debunk Teresa's myth. He says that the Vatican, before deciding on Teresa's beatification, did not take into account "her rather dubious way of caring for the sick, her questionable political contacts, her suspicious management of the enormous sums of money she received, and her overly dogmatic views regarding ... abortion, contraception, and divorce."
For instance:
According to the study, the doctors observed a significant lack of hygiene, even unfit conditions and a shortage of actual care, food and painkillers. They say that the problem was not a paucity of funds as the Order of the Missionaries of Charity successfully raised hundreds of millions of dollars. Researchers said that when it came to her own treatment, "she received it in a modern American hospital".
But this is nothing new.  Anyone who's read Christopher Hitchens' book on her (and yes, it's called "The Missionary Position") already know this.

Then there's this piece of his from 2003:
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?

The rich world has a poor conscience, and many people liked to alleviate their own unease by sending money to a woman who seemed like an activist for "the poorest of the poor." People do not like to admit that they have been gulled or conned, so a vested interest in the myth was permitted to arise, and a lazy media never bothered to ask any follow-up questions. Many volunteers who went to Calcutta came back abruptly disillusioned by the stern ideology and poverty-loving practice of the "Missionaries of Charity," but they had no audience for their story. George Orwell's admonition in his essay on Gandhi—that saints should always be presumed guilty until proved innocent—was drowned in a Niagara of soft-hearted, soft-headed, and uninquiring propaganda.
Eric Blair was certainly right about that!

Have a good day, my friends.

2 comments:

SamStone said...

It is interesting that scientific community is staying on top of this issue, especially with regard to the mismanagement of huge sums of money and her hypocritical stance with regard to her own care. It clear that MT didn't want to end poverty. As Hitchen's aptly said "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.”

Unfortunately, once a Saint, it is difficult for most believers to see her any other way. Even the Daily Show, which ridicules the Pope on a regular basis, left Mother Teresa alone and attacked her dissenters a few seasons back.

John Gentile said...

A very interesting article. Actually, I never paid much attention to who was declared a saint. Maybe the church will have another layoff. I remember back many decades ago when twenty seven saints were laid off.