False Icons: Mother Theresa

False Icons: Mother Theresa

The Progressive Secular Humanist has some harsh criticisms of the saint, outlined below:

Sadistic Religious Fanatic: Mother Teresa Was No Saint

Mother Teresa was no saint, she was instead a moral monster, a sadistic religious fanatic who took pleasure in the suffering of others, and denied appropriate medical care to the sick and dying.

Yet the Catholic propaganda machine, eager for good publicity and the opportunity to hustle the gullible, continues to promote the soon to be saint while ignoring evidence of her moral incompetence.

Teresa was anything but a saint. The nun may have been generous with her prayers, but she was miserly with her foundation’s millions when it came to alleviating the suffering of the sick and the poor.

The celebrated nun had 517 missions in 100 countries at the time of her death. Yet despite plenty of funds, the majority of patients were not cared for properly, many being left to suffer and die without appropriate medical care or pain medication.

Indeed, conditions in the the Missionaries of Charity’s hospices were deplorable. In fact, Teresa refused to introduce the most basic methods of hygiene, even going so far as to reuse needles without sterilization.

According to one study, 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 lack of funds because the Order of the Missionaries of Charity successfully raised hundreds of millions of dollars.

Perhaps worse that the medical malpractice, was Teresa’s perverse and sadistic ability to take pleasure in the suffering of others. The fact is, Teresa believed that suffering – even when caused by poverty, medical problems, or starvation – was a gift from God.

False Icons: Mother Theresa

The article is pretty scathing, so I looked for some more thoughts on the subject. The Independent accused her of being nothing more than a marketing genius pushing a brand:

"I submit however that the reason she is being acknowledged by the Vatican in this ostentatious and rather costly fashion is much more to do with the fact that she represents the greatest PR victory of the Church in the past hundred years. A suitably charismatic appearance, a penchant for photo opportunities with Princess Diana (an incredibly successful and symbiotic brand collaboration if ever there was one), and a global fundraising brand (Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity has raised and deployed billions of dollars across the world) – this, all this combined with the public’s belief that Mother, or Saint, Teresa preached a deliciously palatable message of peace and love which bordered on the hippie. I’m not sure when the Roman Catholic Church last had an advocate who enjoyed her level of profile, at least not in a positive sense. I’m fairly sure that most members of the public would much more readily recognize an image of her than any of the last few Popes."

False Icons: Mother Theresa

The New York Times published an article from a Dr. Chatterjee who states the following:

Growing up, Dr. Chatterjee, a native of Kolkata, found himself bothered by the narrative surrounding Mother Teresa, beginning with the city’s depiction as one of the most desperate places on earth, a “black hole.”

Having been raised in the middle-class Kolkata neighborhood of Ballygunge in the 1950s and 1960s, Dr. Chatterjee said the city of his experience was cosmopolitan, even moneyed. “Every airline that existed in those days, they all came.”

He began working to get this information out, to challenge the icon status of Mother Theresa.

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.

So tell us: Do the criticisms of Mother Theresa change your opinion of her?

Do her good deeds outweigh the negatives? Does she deserve her Sainthood status?

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