Mother Theresa: Good, bad or indifferent?

Since the issue came up, and a search revealed no such thread, what do us Dopers think of Mother Theresa?

robert, this may have go to IMHO, but it may stay in GDs for all the wrong reasons… I’m a bit surprised that a search turned up nothing, I got 42 thread hits for her last year alone, but the usual situation was of the mention of her name being collateral to other discussions. My experience in other fora is that discussion of Mother T tends to degenerate into discussion of the worthiness or properness of her methods and thence into indictments and defenses of missionary activity, church-based charity, or organized religion. And that’s why I say it may stay GD “for all the wrong reasons”.

Based solely, as any opinion must be, on * information I have at hand and can deem credible*, she was committed sincerely to her beliefs, as a result of that performed an extraordinary amount of missionary and charitable work, and was able to parlay it into favorable press in the western media AND into favor from the political and social establishment of a non-Christian, non-western society. The ways and means in which she carried out this work were not always what many in the modern West will consider PC, even within the Church: being herself a product of the old, pre-Vat-II Church and of 1910’s and 20’s European society it’s hardly surprising.

I find that she was of great service to humanity, and an example of commitment to faith and service, whatever the flaws we may find in its in execution. Her passing got overshadowed by that of a certain royal divorceé, but Mother T. had already essentially done all of her life’s work decades before, so it wasn’t like she had much more left to do.

Interestingly, the mandatory 5-year waiting period for initiating canonization proceedings has gone by and apparently the initial rush to waive it turned out to be moot. If the institution is going to honor her they may as well take their time making sure they don’t embarass themselves (or her) by rushing in.

She also urged a lot of desperately impoverished women to forego birth control.

Wow, women were eating birth control, until this she-demon M.Theresa came around?

That’s wrong, IMHO! I don’t know much about her. She seemed committed to her endeavors.

Wow. She advised people to act in a particular way. Big deal. Unless she * forced * a woman to forego birth control, there’s not a problem.

What? Do you have a cite for this?

Here’s a cite of my own:

While you may not approve of the methods that she encouraged for birth control, the statement that she “urged a lot of desperately impoverished women to forego birth control” is patently false.

I can’t agree with the Catholic Church’s stance on birth control, but Mother Teresa certainly did try to take a compassionate approach while still standing up for her faith. I have to respect that.

What about the charge I’ve heard that she considered her duty to be comforting the dying more than preventing the deaths? Couldn’t she have organized a system of training native doctors and giving them good supplies? I’ve never heard of her doing this.

As a non-Catholic, I certainly did not agree with everything that Mother Teresa believed or preached, but I do believe that if more people would stand on their principles as strongly as she did, the world would be a better place for all!

—While you may not approve of the methods that she encouraged for birth control, the statement that she “urged a lot of desperately impoverished women to forego birth control” is patently false.—

Unless by “birth control” Qadgop meant, uh, what most people think of as “birth control,” as opposed to the rythmn method and abstienence. That was a little deceptive of you, fluid.

Christopher Hitchens is the famous detractor here: and your can read a bit on his views here.

Suffice to say: how to do people explain the huge discrepancy between the millions upon millions her order receives, and the fact that her mission in Calcutta has remained as primitive and unequipped as it was when she started there?

Hitchens notes that they had more than enough money to start an entire community hospital without even flinching. Yet, despite sitting on millions, her order runs around feigning such extreme poverty that they cannot even donate small funds to actual development projects. The mainstay of the money seems to go into building ornate convents all over the world.

Suffice to say, that’s not what people think they are donating to. Indeed, I would guess that a huge number of the people who donated money thought that her order provided medical aid or worked to improve peoples live in ways more than simply preaching to them. This is certainly the impression promoted. But it does not entirely reflect the reality of the Calcutta mission. That’s not to say that the missionary work is bad, but it is widely misrepresented as being something its really not.

I’m also a little chilled by her view on “the suffering of the poor” as being something very beautiful, a real boon to the world in terms of the nobility of this example of misery and suffering.

—I do believe that if more people would stand on their principles as strongly as she did, the world would be a better place for all!—

That depends on the principles. In some cases, I’d rather see lackluster stands on some principles than strong ones.

Yes, Apos, a good point that it depends on the principles. Still, I believe a lot more suffering in the world is due to people who are afraid to take strong stances on anything and risk failure, than to people who have principles (and by “principles”, I’m talking about morality and ideals, not greed), figure out what those principles mean to them, and then act on them.

Well, at any rate, I do think that Archbishop Romero should have won the Nobel Peace Prize. Big surprise there.

I have to admit, I don’t know all that much about Mother Theresa.

Thanks, Apos. Yes, that was my meaning: Mother Theresa opposed all forms of birth control except the rhythm method. Here’s what a columnist on India for the Sunday Times had to say.

Good point about this having huge holes.

There are millions of people who wish that Pol Pot hadn’t stood so strongly for his beliefs. I don’t have any more respect for him because he “stood for his beliefs.” So does every schoolyard bully, who thinks that he’s actually entitled to make the playground his private fiefdom.

Boink! There you damn people go, making me re-think my position on something! And right before bedtime, too! :slight_smile:

Slight correction: IIRC, Mother Theresa didn’t advocate the"rhythm method," but Natural Family Planning, which is similar to but still distinct from the rhythm method. The rhythm method encourages sex based on when menstraution occurs; NFP does so based on…uh…

…the consistency of the woman’s mucus…

…which changes based on the time of the month. Seriously.

Anyway, she might have advocated the RM waaay back when, but it’s not really in vogue anymore with the advent of NFP.

A lot of people in India have a quite different perspective on MT than most people in the West, it should be noted. It would be worthwhile to find out what people there really believe on this issue and what they think about the common portrayal of their city and culture.

—Mother Theresa opposed all forms of birth control except the rhythm method.—

In her Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech, her theme was abortion, which she considered the single biggest threat to world peace.

Er, did she explain this even slightly? Or is it a case of ‘Abortion is murder, therefore, it’s as violent as the murder of adults,’?

Pretty much.
Her speech is here: