• Hitchens correct: Mother Teresa not a saint?


    Canadian researchers have called Mother Theresa “anything but a saint.” In fact, they go so far as to say she’s…

    … 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.


    The study is slated to appear in Religieuses, a journal in the “studies of religion.” The researchers claim that Theresa thought it was “beautiful to see the poor suffer.”

    Again… ouch.

    According to the study, the Vatican overlooked the crucial human side of Teresa — her dubious way of caring for the sick by glorifying their suffering instead of relieving it.

    Instead, the Vatican went ahead with her beatification followed by canonization “to revitalize the Church and inspire the faithful especially at a time when churches are empty and the Roman authority is in decline”.

    Ah. Building your church on the backs of the poor and suffering. Not exactly the ethical thing to do, but it seems rather common.

    Researchers in the study include Serve Larivee, Genevieve Chenard (University of MOntreal) and Carole Senechal (University of Ottawa). They say:

    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.”

    At the time of her death, Teresa had 517 missions or “homes for the dying” as described by doctors visiting several of these establishments in Kolkata. They welcomed the poor and sick in more than 100 countries. Two-thirds of the people coming to these missions hoped to a find a doctor to treat them, while the other third lay dying without receiving apt care.

    The study cites problems like:

    • Lack of hygiene
    • Unfit conditions
    • shortage of care, food, and painkillers

    Sounds like a Stephen King novel.

    While the Missionaries of Charity had plenty of funding, they raised millions of dollars, Theresa opted to allow “her” poor to suffer. It should also be noted that Theresa always received top notch medical care at a modern hospital facility.

    And then we have this:

    Following her death, the Vatican decided to waive the usual five-year waiting period to open the beatification process. According to the researchers, one of the miracles attributed to Mother Theresa is the healing of Monica Besra, who suffered from intense abdominal pain, after a medallion blessed by her was placed on Besra’s abdomen.

    Larivee said, “Her doctors thought otherwise: the ovarian cyst and the tuberculosis from which she suffered were healed by the drugs they had given her. The Vatican, nevertheless, concluded that it was a miracle. Mother Teresa’s popularity was such that she had become untouchable for the population, which had already declared her a saint.”

    Larivee however signs off on a surprisingly positive note and says there could also be a positive effect of the Mother Teresa myth. “If the extraordinary image of Mother Teresa conveyed in the collective imagination has encouraged humanitarian initiatives that are genuinely engaged with those crushed by poverty, we can only rejoice,” they signed off.


    Note: Fellow Skeptic Inker Russell Blackford at Hellfire Club has weighed in on the subject.

    Category: In the News


    Article by: Beth Erickson

    I'm Beth Ann Erickson, a freelance writer, publisher, and skeptic. I live in Central Minnesota with my husband, son, and two rescue pups. Life is flippin' good. :)