Mother Teresa - Saint or Scourge?

This article from the Washington Postreviews the less well publicized side of the Mother Teresa story. It is based largely on the book Hell’s Angel by Christopher Hitchens where the good sister is revealed to be serving the poor in Calcutta based on their conversion to Catholicism, including producing as many babies as possible in a city suffering from overpopulation and poverty. Her facilities have been compared to concentration camps and she seems to have effectively sold indulgences to figures such as Papa Doc Duvalier, Charles Keating, and Hillary Clinton.

Now the Catholic Church announces she will be declared a saint. Are they ignoring the evidence that this woman was creating poverty and suffering in Calcutta? Do they not care because she promoted the cause of Catholicism? Or do you think these are all fabrications about a woman who should be considered a saint?

Clinton should not be on that list with a murderous tyrant and a con man. If Teresa had Clinton’s morals regarding contraception, it would have elevated the claims of her sainthood

They certainly heard Hitchens’ opinion. He was invited to the Vatican to make his case as what would have been the Devil’s Advocate, had not John Paul II eliminated that office:

Hitchens wasn’t the only critic of Mother Teresa heard:

We’ve got the same thing going on out here in CA with Father Junipero Serra and his mistreatment of Native Americans. I heard a priest explain things by saying something like: No one expects a saint to be a perfect human being. They are flawed, like all of us, but on looks at the good works they did, etc, etc, etc.

It actually goes beyond the Church’s issues, because his name just everywhere in CA and there is controversy surrounding his treatment as a secular 'hero" as well. He’s almost our version of John Smith or William Bradford.

So where does the article say that she CONDITIONED care on conversion?
Or did you just mean to say that people were exposed to people preaching the gospel while they were getting care from an organization run by a NUN!!!

And what sort of silly criticism is it to say that the facilities were shitty in a part of the world where she was the only one providing facilities at all? I’m sure that they were dumps by western standards. So what? Was she diverting money to party and do cocaine off of a whore’s taint?

These criticisms are largely fucked up people who have trouble with her religion. The criticism of Mother Teresa’s sainthood cannot be that she was too militantly catholic.

I don’t have any particular problem with Catholicism. I’ve got a lot of Catholics in my family, including my mom. Catholics, by and large, are A-OK in my book.

But Mother Theresa was a fucking shitbag.

She was an asshole.

Did she make the lives of those around her better by her actions? I’d say yes. Did she make great sacrifices that few of us could even imagine? I’d say yes. That puts her in a very small category of good people despite her flaws.

May she rest in peace… :smiley:

Why do you say “yes” to both those questions?

Hitchens book and other material I’ve seen on the subject vary in their descriptions of the practice. I don’t see the major part of the issue here as a religious group preaching their beliefs while providing care if that’s all it was, but together with the other issues there is a question of whether the intent was to serve the poor at all or simply to convert people.

I don’t think it’s a silly argument at all. It doesn’t serve the poor to keep them in the same or worse conditions they’d be in otherwise in the name of religion. Were these unfortunates better off because of this mission or not? She was given money for the cause of improving the lives of people, not their souls, but their earthly needs.

Why not? Is it because conversion to Catholicism is more important than the easing of suffering?

There is a saying about lying down with dogs…

And Clinton (both of them actually) have been known to associate with lots and lots of dogs. Though I will grant that Clinton isn’t up there with Papa Doc.

And Mother Teresa was a piece of shit who reveled in glorifying others suffering instead of trying to releve it.


From the Catholic point of view, the state of a person’s eternal soul is more important than the easing of their temporal suffering.

Which is not to say that easing suffering is unimportant.

Although, you don’t have to believe in an eternal soul to believe that physical suffering is the only kind that matters.

I do know about that point of view within the church in general. Does that mean she is being sainted for caring for the souls of the downtrodden and not their physical well being? Now the church can do what it wants but I don’t believe the public perception of Mother Teresa is based on that.

Christopher Hitchens was a vicious hatemonger and constant liar. One might ask, what is evidence against Mother Teresa that doesn’t rest on blindly believing what Hitchens said?

Mother Teresa received the Nobel Peace Prize and numerous other prizes for her services towards provide help and education to the poor, negotiaing a temporary ceasefire in Beirut to save children’s lives, and other good deeds. At her death, Calcutta’s poor turned out by the hundreds of thousands to give her honor. On the other hand, she was hated by a rich white guy who never did anything to help the poor. (It’s worth remembering that Hitchens spend most of his life promoting communism, so he certainly shares responsibility for an enormous amount of suffering among the global poor.)

Hillary Clinton went to visit Mother Teresa following a spate of White House scandal and revelation of her shady activities in Arkansas. Why did she go to Calcutta? I didn’t say she was a murdering tyrant but I have no doubt she went there to improve her image by association with a perceived good cause. Now I could see that Mother Teresa might consider it impolitic to snub the First Lady of the United States but there’s no excuse for her indulgence of Papa Doc and Keating.

Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity, which in addition to the hospices helping the poorest residents of India, also has founded clinics, soup kitchens, schools and other charities worldwide. While some have claimed, for instance, that the hospices did not offer medicine to dying patients who were in pain, this is a straightforward lie; they did offer medicine. Others have claimed that they offered medicine but not the most effective painkillers such as opiates. The government of India made opiates unavailable to the poor, as they could only be provided by licensed doctors and such doctors rarely were willing to work with the poor.

Can someone briefly explain what she did with respect to these people? The article linked to in the OP doesn’t mention them.

As I mention above in post #3, the Vatican also called Aroup Chatterjee to testify against Mother Teresa. His book is Mother Teresa: The Final Verdict. It’s apparently longer than Hitchens’ book The Missionary Position, and owes nothing to that book. It has extensive footnotes. Wikipedia claims that his book inspired the British channel 4 documentary [Hell’s Angel, which Hitchens wrote.
I haven’t read either book myself, nor seen the documentary.

Criticisms include: