Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, or as she is more commonly known as, Mother Teresa of Calcutta has been described as one of the 20th centuries only saints, a mother to the poor, saviour to the dying, miracle-working and life devoting angel from the heavens. But is she really worthy of such admiration?
The Official Narrative
It’s always best to start with what the World is led to believe by the mainstream press and state academia.
Mother Teresa led a life of dedication to fighting poverty. She sacrificed the 20th-century world of materialism to help the destitute and diseased in the third-world. She risked her own life on the front lines of her missionary work. She is well known for her short but sweet sayings, for example, “peace begins with a smile” and “Intense love does not measure, it just gives.”. By the time she died in 1997, Teresa had won the Nobel Peace Prize and was operating 517 missions in 100 different countries. Or at least, that is the official line created by 35 years of aggressive campaigning by the Church to make Mother Teresa the poster of modern Catholicism.
Since her death, she has been canonised as a saint by the Catholic Church when she finally met all the criteria to gain saintly status. This criterion is as follows. Firstly she has to of been a Servant of God, well as a nun by the age of 18 through to her death in 1997 she certainly meets this first requirement. Second, she must have Lived a life of Heroic virtue, this was a no-brainer since the Catholic Church has used Mother Teresa as a mascot for the most part of her life, she then won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 just to seal the deal.
The final requirement is that she must have performed two miracles, one while living and while following her death. (I know, it is a tough status to achieve)
Her first miracle was the recovery of a woman in Kolkata that recovered from a stomach tumour overnight. Nuns at the Missionaries of Charity had been praying for Mother Teresa to heal her all night.
Her second miracle was achieved as required, after she died, in 2008 a Brazilian man was reportedly cured of abscesses on his brain after he placed a picture of Teresa by his bedside and prayed into it.
A saint was made, in 2016 Mother Teresa was canonised.
So we’ve heard the official version of what the World has been told about Mother Teresa, now we will have a look at the reality of Mother Teresa.
Mother Teresa’s most well know legacy his something she began back in 1950, The Missionaries of Charity was a congregation setup in Calcutta by Mother Teresa and others in the community, the church was to be later recognised as a church by the Roman Catholic Church.
This new churches mission was, according to Teresa, to care for:
“the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society, people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone.”
Centres were later formed all around the World. The order has now 4,500 nuns actively working in more than 600 missions across 133 countries.
However, many critics report that the humanitarian efforts the church offered were less than humane at best. This criticism is enforced by the fact that many volunteers who worked for the Missionaries of Charity at some point have also come forward to confirm that, indeed the aid being offered to the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society, was less than ideal at best.
The following is an excerpt from a blog written by an ex-volunteer at the Missionaries of Charity, she was expecting to help and heal those that needed it, offering comfort and relief where possible – what she was confronted with was unnecessary neglect and suffering:
“I had arrived in India hoping my elbow grease and gumption would in some paltry way contribute to the ongoing humanitarian effort in a drastically impoverished metropolis. Two months later, I was gut-wrenched over how naïve I’d been, and the notion that despite my best intentions I’d dedicated eight weeks to
servingan organization that is inflicting unnecessary and extreme physical suffering upon those it claims to be saving. ”
She continues on to talk about how dangerous the housing was for these ‘Homes for the Dying’ where the missionaries and patients would reside:
“…conditions in their homes are dangerously negligible. When I was there, Kalighat was undergoing renovations and so temporarily housed in a wing of Prem Dan. Patients slept on army-style cots in a dank, concrete room. The squat-style toilets were often flooded, forcing patients to walk or crawl (as there was a dire shortage of wheelchairs and crutches) through urine and
Now this could be understandable if you were thinking that this charitable group of missionaries were under-funded and lacking the means to provide a better standard of care for their patients and their volunteers, but then when you discover Mother Teresa’s charity was bringing in $100 million a year in donations you have to wonder where an earth the money went?
Follow the Money
Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of charity raised a lot of money through donations over the years, how much exactly is unknown as the information has never been disclosed, however, a common estimation is that at least $100 million was raised each year by the charity.
So where did the money go? Well, much of it to the Vatican Bank it would seem, in fact according to Gianluigi Nuzzi’s who wrote in his book, ‘The Original Sin’, Mother Teresa was believed to have the largest cash account at the Vatican.
According to La Presse reports, if Mother Teresa had closed her accounts or transferred them elsewhere, the institute would have risked default.
The image presented to us of this saintly character setting up camp in some of the most impoverished areas of the World to do all she can to help the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society is not entirely accurate, as it would appear a large proportion of the funds raised to help these people was being syphoned off to the Vatican.
Of course if all this money being put in the bank was just excess funds left over after all the medical equipment and medicine, housing, clothes, food, blankets and so on had been purchased than you’d think, fair enough – but the reality is the charity worked in the worst possible conditions with a the worst medical preparation imaginable and a severe lack of medicine and adequate housing.
Susan Shields, former Missionary of Charity claims that:
“the sisters reused needles until they became blunt”
Hemley Gonzalez, former volunteer at Mother Teresa’s charity explains how on his first day working he was disillusioned by the organisation as he discovered the perception he had from the World and its media was in total contradiction to what he was seeing:
first dayvolunteering. I was shocked to discover the horrifically negligent manner in which this charity operates and the direct contradiction of the public’s general understanding of their work. Workers wash needles under tap water and then reuse them. Medicine and other vital items are stored for months on end, expiring and still applied sporadically to patients.
Volunteers with little or no training carry out dangerous work on patients with highly contagious cases of tuberculosis and other life-threatening illnesses. The individuals who operate the charity refuse to accept and implement medical equipment and machinery that would safely automate processes and save lives.”
These accounts are not isolated instances, they are the common experience by hundreds of volunteers and nuns who worked for the organisation over the years, the stories vary in their severity but one thing is common throughout and that is the pure underfunding of the operations. In just about all accounts the medicine was rarely used, pain relief where administered and lives were sacrificed due to unnecessary expenditure of funds it turns out they had plenty of.
One of Theresa’s biggest critics was Christopher Hitchens, he was a British-American author, columnist, essayist, orator, journalist, and social critic who wrote the controversial book on Mother Teresa entitled ‘The Missionary position‘, he carefully picked apart her life and career casting a very different light on her supposed heroic legacy.
The following is a documentary by Hitchens called ‘Hells Angel’ , he goes over first hand accounts and carefully picks apart the reality of the charity and the woman herself:
The Glory of Suffering
In 1994, the British medical journal The Lancet claimed the medicine was so scarce in her hospice centres that patients received nothing close to what they needed to relieve their pain. Doctors began to refer to her centres as ‘Homes for the Dying’, which with an average mortality rate of 40% was an accurate title.
But Mother Teresa showed minor concern for this commonly perceived negligence as in her view, she said:
“There is something beautiful in seeing the poor accept their lot, to suffer it like Christ’s Passion,”
Though she found the suffering of others beautiful it seems she found her own suffering less beautiful as she spent many
Building the Brand
Mother Teresa and her rise to celebrity status
Her short but sweet sayings became known throughout the World, her image was easily identifiable as being her, there was no mistake when a depiction of Mother Teresa was produced or video footage of her hobbling around was aired, we knew it was Mother Teresa, that sweet old nun who single-handedly touched the lives of thousands.
Her devotion to the Catholic Church, primarily through millions of donated funds but also in the aligned values she upheld on abortion and contraception ensured her recognition by the Catholic Church and paved the way eventually to the saint she was made following her death and final miracle.
The Catholic Church ensure the continued success of the Mother Teresa brand even today, secured by her recognition as a saint and continually praised for the legacy she begun and all the charity that still goes on in her name.
Its Not all Bad
It would be unfair to say that Mother Teresa was evil and offered nothing positive to anyone. Some will accuse her of such things, however the truth seems somewhat less black and white as that, her existence alone has inspired thousands of generally good willed and caring volunteers from around the World to try and help those less fortunate, that alone could be argued as a success on her part.
When an individual is devoted to God, their actions are not always rational and in the best interest of the people, sometimes the devotion is so strong that paving the way to God for those who are suffering overrides the more humane and rational approach of trying to save the life in question.
The narrative provided by the Church and now the modern academic history books is false, it’s biased in favour of the Catholic Church and Mother Teresa, we should know the real story, we should recognise her failings, but we should also not automatically assume she was a dark, greedy