Mother Teresa - a fraud???

From MSN Slate today:

The pope beatifies Mother Teresa, a fanatic, a fundamentalist, and a fraud.

I’m not Catholic. But isn’t this guy going a little bit far when he says:

Harsh words. Discussion?

More fodder for the fire:

I knew a thread like this was taking too long to show up… :slight_smile: I had heard about other Mother Theresa “problems.” She kept people from seeking real doctors so faith would heal them.

Her quick sainthood certainly points to some PR BS… I don’t take the vatican seriously anyway… but he surely likes promoting a great number of saints.

Gotta call my friend Equipoise in here: she gots parblems with Momma T too. Me, I’ma buy me one of these. Don’t she look hungry? :eek:

To balance Mr. Hitchens, here is a link from the Catholic League.

While I probably disagree with both Hitchens and the Catholic League in equal measure, this is not an issue that tends to lead to a reasoned discussion. Bl. Theresa was either an exemplar of Christianity, showing Christ’s love to the poorest of the poor, or she was a capitalist dupe and religious fanatic who built her reputation on the lives (and deaths) of those self-same poor.

Being Roman Catholic, I tend to the former position, but that doesn’t mean that there may not be some truth in Hitchens’ accusations. However, finding those bits of truth may prove to be a difficult task. Given Mr. Hitchens’ strident brand of atheism, I shudder to think what he might have written in other times and places. To wit. “Jesus is a dupe of the imperialist occupiers! Claims to ‘heal’ the oppressed slave of a war-mongering Centurion!”

Well, it depends what you mean by a “fraud.” From the Catholic church’s standpoint, she traveled the world crusading against abortion, birth control and divorce, which the church should applaud, even if I don’t.

On the other hand . . . She took money from dictators and embezzlers, and there is a lot of testimony (from her own nurses and nuns) that her “hospitals” were little more than concentration camps, where patients received no pain reliever or actual medical treatment. My Catholic friend Michael says, “that’s hardly the actions of a good Catholic!”

I have a friend who, through an odd series of circumstances, became close friends with Mother Theresa. Late one night he got a phone call from one of MT’s nunterage at the hospital, where she was staying due to a stroke or something (he lives in Southern California).

“Bradley, can you please come to the hospital? THere’s a very insistant young girl here. We keep telling her that Mother is ill and cannot see anyone right now. But she’s still waiting here, and won’t go away. Can you come and talk to her?”

Bradley got dressed, drove to the hospital, and went to Mother Theresa’s room. The nun who had called him directed him to the waiting room where the girl was still sitting. “And Bradley,” she said, “why don’t you take her somewhere and buy her something to eat? The poor child looks like she’s starving to death.”

Bradley approached the waiting room, and peeked around the corner. The only person sitting there was Julia Roberts.

Well, that explains Julia Roberts’ career–Mother Teresa brokered her deal with Satan!

lissener: Wow. That story is just SO perfect in SO many ways, I’m not sure it’s true! No offense to you or your friend, but it’s just TOO… Wow. :slight_smile:

My mother has a less-than-favourable opinion of MT, and I have to concur, especially since Mom and I (and my sister) have been to India and got a chance to see the really grinding poverty in the late seventies, just as MT was winning her Nobel Peace Prize. MT’s intervention never actually improved the lot of the poor, it just make it possible for there to be a lot more of them. Had she been promoting education and self-improvement, she’d be a lot more worthy of the honour.

My goodness, I was called into a fascinating area of the SMDB I don’t visit anywhere near often enough.

Anything I say about Ma Terry is probably better said in the Pit. I pretty much agree with Hitchens, Bryan’s mom, and Eve.

(sorry lissener, that’s really all I have to say)

I’m not even an athiest, and up until three months ago I was a Carholic, and I’ll be the first to say that Hitchens can be an ass-hat of the most enormous magnitute. But I have to admit I’m completely on board with Hitchens on this matter, and have been for years. The man has a mountain of evidence on his side.

Mother Teresa WAS a fraud. She did, in fact, leave thousands of people in pain and agony to serve her own weird spiritual needs. She did commisserate with murderers and dictators. She was a complete and utter hypocrite on the subject of divorce, supporting rich and famous people who divorced (e.g. Princess Diana) while adminishing ordinary women for divorcing on threat of eternal damnation, even if the women in question were beaten by their husbands. She campaigned to keep women in poverty and sickness through opposition to almost every important aspect of social progress. Her order did, in fact, take millions upon millions of dollars in charitable donations and gave an unacceptably small percentage of it to the poor and the sick. I have to say, when I looked at the evidence, I was utterly convinced that her sainthood - both the Church and the media version - is an utter farce.

Why are so many people taken in by her? Tens of thousands worshiping her; her name still used in everyday speech as an example of saintliness. Shouldn’t good Christians be rising up and saying, “hey, she is not what our religion is about?”

My opinion probably doesn’t count since I’m an atheist too. But whether Mother Theresa herself was a fraud or not (and I think she was), the public perception of her is very skewed. People who find positions like opposition to divorce and contraception very extreme don’t even realize she stood for those things. Even in America, that’s hardline religious conservative stuff- and because of the press she got, she’s still held up as the ultimate figure of compassion. That doesn’t wash. I think most people would be surprised, nevermind those like me who find that behavior extremely non-compassionate. When you throw in the bits about her shelters not really helping anyone and focusing more on dying with dignity than helping people live, that might explain why people call her a fraud. Personally, I reserve much stronger words than that for people who’d go to India and encourage people to be fruitful and multiply.

They didn’t even do that—her “patients” lay on pallets on the floor and were denied pain medications. Hardly “dying with dignity.”

Well of COURSE that was my first reaction, but I was able to confirm it through a pretty reliable secondary source, so I personally have no doubt that it’s true.

Oh, c’mon Eve, who’s gonna go around dissing a nun? She may have agents nearby, with rulers!!! :wink: No, really – had she been a priest, or a younger sister during her high-profile years, she may have been fairer game. But she came into high relief in the West after having already a prolonged career and her base of support in Calcutta – where dying on a pallet on the floor in a shelter while being told God loves you nonetheless, is still a step up from the street gutter.

Part of the problem lies in that, even though from OUR modern, practical-effects-oriented, “if it hurts or condemns it can’t be really Christian” POV we can say her methods were unsound and her associations unsavory, it is also true that from the POV of strict, absolute adherence to the old doctrine, as you mentioned yourself she was hard core and the sincerity of her belief that she was doing the right thing is not in dispute. She was, in the end, more an embodiment of an ideal of the Old Church that too many (Catholics and other Christians) still yearn for; one where there were absolute rights and absolute wrongs and where the important thing was being spiritually right and never mind what’s your lot in this world.

The canonization process is not as objective as the Congregation for the Causes of Saints pretends it is. You’re canonized as much for what you really stood for as for what those who revere you think you stood for. You got a population of the faithful or potential faithful who revere a person, and the Church is not about to say “Y’know that person you think was so godly, whom you really liked, and who made you feel so much better? She was NOT as good for you as you think, sorry, you were fooled, you didn’t know better.”

Plus there is our good ol’ friend, Catholic Guilt, at work: “Sure, her methods were backwards, but what have I done to at least bring hope to the wretched? Would I move to a non-christian country to run a hospice? At least she did something, I guess I’ll just shut up about it.” You don’t even have to have the internal dialogue explicitly, the conditioning is so thorough.

Ah HA! I knew there should be a thread about this somewhere. But where are the MT supporters? I didn’t really expect anyone to step up and support MT’s intent to increase suffering in the world, but I thought that someone would try to deny that she had that intent.

Personally, I don’t have too much problem with her giving donated money to the Church. I think that the people who gave to her charities should have been more careful of what they did with their money. And, I think it’s likely that the Catholic Church, via the Pope, is being consistent by beatifying her. After all, she purportedly stood for the most strict views of the church. What this all does for me is bring to light those views and make me wonder exactly how the “cafeteria catholics” can support such an institution. (I use “cafeteria catholics” to refer to those “catholics” who choose some of the Church’s views and reject others.).

Yep. And that’s why the Fat Polack in a Dress* is pushing through HER canonization while ignoring possibly more deserving, but more liberal, candidates like John XXIII.

    • Which comedian described him like that? It’s a nasty description but I never did like the guy. Oh, had John-Paul I lived longer!

I just wish someone had done something about beautifying her. A weekend at Elizabeth Arden’s and a swipe of lipstick would not have come amiss.