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February 28, 2015 / subramanyam

Mother Teresa :: Controversies and Contradictions.


My only aim in posting this article on my blog is to make people aware of the allegations on Mother Teresa.  I do not intend to disrespect her or defame her with this post.  As it happens with most of the famous people, there is a side in her life that is criticized by many.  Acknowledging the fact that there is another side to the things does not mean that we are disrespecting the people who made it big in their lives.  A lot of this content is brought in from internet and I wish to present these facts in an objective way.  What we take and learn from the great people is up to us.

Mohan Bhagawat ji’s speech where he quoted Mother Teresa in his speech is being heavily misinterpreted.  They are saying all sorts of things about him and are showing him in bad light.  The Kejrival’s , Brinda Karat’s and many self styled protectors of secularism and jumping out and giving their pieces of advice to Shri Mohan Bhagawat.   I doubt if these people indeed heard him speak. Here is the video of his speech.  Do listen to it and check for yourself if he Mohan Bhagawat ji made any bad remarks on Mother Teresa.

Now, coming to the Mother Teresa and the activities of Charity that she did, there is a contention from long time that her work was motivated by conversions.  Some accuse that she has let people suffer as she believed that suffering would make them close to God.  She did that even when she had enough funds to give the patients medical care.  Many say that she has baptized a lot of people on their death beds. Here is the extract for the wikipedia page.

Mother Teresa encouraged members of her order to baptize dying patients, without regard to the individual’s religion. In a speech at the Scripps Clinic in California in January 1992, she said: “Something very beautiful… not one has died without receiving the special ticket for St. Peter, as we call it. We call baptism ticket for St. Peter. We ask the person, do you want a blessing by which your sins will be forgiven and you receive God? They have never refused. So 29,000 have died in that one house [in Kalighat] from the time we began in 1952.”

Critics have argued that patients were not provided sufficient information to make an informed decision about whether they wanted to be baptized and the theological significance of a Christian baptism.

Some of Mother Teresa’s defenders have argued that baptisms are either soul-saving or harmless and hence the criticisms would be pointless (a variant of Pascal’s Wager). Simon Leys, in a letter to the New York Review of Books, wrote: “Either you believe in the supernatural effect of this gesture – and then you should dearly wish for it. Or you do not believe in it, and the gesture is as innocent and well-meaningly innocuous as chasing a fly away with a wave of the hand.”

You would be surprised to know that there is a wikipedia page that is dedicated to the criticism of her. Here is the page from where I picked the above content.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Mother_Teresa

Then we  have Christopher Hitchens and his Hell’s Angel documentary on Mother Teresa.

Controversies with respect to the Donations

The details and the profile of her donors is at times disturbing. Charles Keating is considered one of the biggest swindlers in the history of the USQ.  His financial fraud amounted to $253 million in early 90’s. Most of the people who lost money were small investors.  Charles Keating was a big donor to Mother Teresa. For the first and last time in her life  Mother Teresa wrote to a judge.  Here is what she wrote and and what she got as a response.

Dear Honorable Lance Ito,

We do not mix up in Business or Politics or courts…I do not know anything about Mr Charles Keating’s work or his business or the matters you are dealing with. …

I only know that he has always been kind and generous to God’s poor, and always ready to help whenever there was a need.  Whenever someone asks me to speak to a trial judge, I always tell them the same thing.  I ask them to pray, to look into their heart, and to do what Jesus would do in that circumstance.  And that is what is I am asking of you, your Honor.

My gratitude to you is my prayer for you, and your work, your family and the people you are dealing with.  God Bless You

M. Teresa, M.C.

        After Keating’s conviction and imprisonment, Paul W. Turley, the then Deputy District Attorney of Los Angeles County wrote the following letter to Mother Teresa:

Dear Mother Teresa

        …The victims of Mr Keating’s fraud come from a wide spectrum of society.  Some were wealthy and well educated.  Most were people of modest means and unfamiliar with high finance.  One was, indeed a poor carpenter who did not speak English and had his life’s savings stolen by Mr Keating’s fraud.

The Biblical slogan of your organisation is ‘As long as you did it to one of My least brethren.  You did it to Me.’ The ‘least’ of the brethren are among those whom Mr Keating fleeced without flinching…  It is not uncommon for ‘con’ men to be generous with family, friends and charities…No church, no charity, no organisation should allow itself to be used as salve for the conscience of the criminal.

You urge Judge Ito to look into his heart – as he sentences Charles Keating – and do what Jesus would do.  I submit the same challenge to you.  Ask yourself what Jesus would do if given the fruits of a crime; what Jesus would do if he were in possession of money that had been stolen;…

I submit that Jesus would promptly and unhesitatingly return the stolen property to its rightful owners.  You should do the same.  You have been given money by Mr Keating that he has been convicted of stealing by fraud.  Do not permit him the ‘indulgence’ he desires.  Do not keep the money.  Return it to those who worked for it and earned it! If you contact me I will put you in direct contact with the rightful owners of the property now in your possession. 

Sincerely Paul W. Turley

It makes me curious as to why Mother Teresa had to interfere in this case.  What’s more intriguing is the fact that there was no public denouncement or returning of the money by her or by her organization.  Many people including Hillary Clinton actually returned the donations they got from Keating.

Source : http://liberalslikechrist.org/Catholic/MotherTeresa.html

Usage of the donations

Many say that the Mother Teresa and her organizations did not use the donations they received in a proper way. An insider of the missionaries of charities. There are allegations thaat Mother Teresa wanted people to suffer and felt that this was a better way to reach God.  They say she did not use those millions of dollars which missionaries of charities had in their bank accounts to alleviate the pain of the poor. Instead, she let the poor suffer and in fact  saw suffering as a means to go close to God.

According to a freelance writer, Judith Hayes, Mother Theresa once told a cancer patient in her care that she did not need pain killers, because:

“You are suffering like Christ on the cross, So Jesus must be kissing you.”

How else would someone come to such a positively dangerous position that does nothing but cause unnecessary pain and suffering, if not for belief. Why would a sane human being refuse pain killers to a dying lady in pain, other than a belief in a God. And what a poor argument for an all loving God that would be.

Mother Theresa sat on a fortune. Banks accounts all over the World, filled with millions upon millions in donations. People were led to believe that they were giving money to alleviate suffering. Instead, the millions of dollars sat unused, like a bottle of water and loaf of bread hanging over the mouths of the starving, being held just out of reach by an insane Nun who wallowed in her feet being kissed by impoverished “Calcutteans”.

Source : https://futiledemocracy.wordpress.com/2011/03/28/the-curse-of-mother-theresa/

It is not just the individuals who felt like this. There was an elaborate research conducted on this and the reports were equally appalling. Here is what I got from University of Montreal.

The sick must suffer like Christ on the cross

At the time of her death, Mother Teresa had opened 517 missions welcoming the poor and sick in more than 100 countries. The missions have been described as “homes for the dying” by doctors visiting several of these establishments in Calcutta. 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 appropriate care. The doctors observed a significant lack of hygiene, even unfit conditions, as well as a shortage of actual care, inadequate food, and no painkillers. The problem is not a lack of money–the Foundation created by Mother Teresa has raised hundreds of millions of dollars–but rather a particular conception of suffering and death: “There is something beautiful in seeing the poor accept their lot, to suffer it like Christ’s Passion. The world gains much from their suffering,” was her reply to criticism, cites the journalist Christopher Hitchens. Nevertheless, when Mother Teresa required palliative care, she received it in a modern American hospital.

Source : http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-03/uom-mta022813.php

Another example .

Mary Loudon, a former volunteer at Mother Teresa’s Home for the Dying in Calcutta, recalls her first day on the job.

A boy of 15 was dying from what started as a minor kidney ailment that “had simply grown worse and worse and worse because he hadn’t had antibiotics.” By then he needed an operation. His transfer to a hospital was refused.

“They simply won’t do it,” an American doctor treating the boy told her with a mix of anger and resignation. “If they do it for one, they do it for everybody.”

Surely there must be more to the story. Maybe the antibiotics were fantastically expensive or they were short of money that month? Why else would Mother Teresa devote herself to the poorest of the poor, unless to heal them?

Was there more to the story? Unfortunately, yes. Hitchens produces more cases: a Guatemalan, dying of AIDS in San Francisco, pleaded not to be sent back to Mother Teresa’s “Gift of Love” facility because he would not receive adequate analgesics; an “ex-Mother Teresa” being cared for “at the Franciscans” where “neither he nor the priest have a good word to say for the Sisters at the ‘Gift of Love.'”

Was there an explanation? Again, yes. Mother Teresa’s real agenda was not providing medical care to the poor and the outcast. It was saving souls for her church. Hindus and Muslims in Calcutta were baptized-quietly, Hitchens reports, so as not to attract the attention of the Indian government. Even the dying patients would not be aware that they had been “saved.” They would be asked if they wanted a “ticket to Heaven.” If they seemed to say yes, that was judged sufficient. The sister would touch them with a damp cloth and murmur the necessary words.

Source : http://www.ibiblio.org/prism/oct97/mothert.html

Controversial Stand on Abortions

This is again from the wikipedia page.

In her Nobel Prize acceptance speech, she declared, “Abortion is the worst evil, and the greatest enemy of peace… Because if a mother can kill her own child, what will prevent us from killing ourselves or one another? Nothing.”

In the aftermath of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, it was determined that more than 450,000 Hindu women in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) had been systematically raped. Even in these circumstances she asserted her rejection of abortion by publicly denouncing abortion as an option and by calling upon the women left behind to keep their unborn children. She characterized her views later when asked in 1993 about a 14-year-old rape victim in Ireland, “Abortion can never be necessary… because it is pure killing.”

My Opinion on all this.

I personally feel that she should have provided more care to the patients by opening up good hospitals than opening so many homes for the dying.  Surely she could have provided more care with less number of centers and good hospitals than having 517 missions and homes for dying. While you might have more presence by opening up more missions, you could have eliminated a lot of suffering by focusing on fewer centers and by spending more money building up hospitals.   The fact that the nuns under her were not properly trained and did not care much about hygiene is something that should not have been done.  The poor and the destitute need caring. Whatever be the religious leanings we cannot ask others to suffer just because we feel that suffering is noble. Doing that when you have lot of donations with you is even a bigger bad thing to do.

Then coming to the issue of conversions on death beds. I really hate it.  I mean the person is dying if you still see religion there and try to convert a person on his/her death bed what is the service you are doing to the humanity.  Mixing conversion and service is just not acceptable.

As for abortions it is totally a personal choice.  Matters really become complicated when we speak about victims of rape and sexual abuse.  Hence I think the choice should be with the person on whether one should have the kid or not.

Then another expose and a opinion piece.

https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2013/03/05/a-new-expose-on-mother-teresa-shows-that-she-and-the-vatican-were-even-worse-than-we-thought/

This is one such report by Susan Shields who worked for quite some time with Mother Teresa.

http://www.secularhumanism.org/library/fi/shields_18_1.html

There is a book that vows to expose her misdeeds.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Missionary_Position

Here are various online resources that voice out a different opinion on Mother Teresa.

http://liberalslikechrist.org/Catholic/MotherTeresa.html

http://www.mukto-mona.com/Articles/mother_teresa/sanal_ed.htm

http://www.population-security.org/swom-96-09.htm

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism/2008/05/mother-teresa/

http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2013/03/06/mother_teresas_saintly_image_comes_under_fire_in_new_study.html

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/fighting_words/2003/10/mommie_dearest.html

http://knowledgenuts.com/2013/09/27/mother-teresa-was-a-crook-and-a-fraud/

http://www.theguardian.com/world/1999/aug/06/suzannegoldenberg

Some stuff from Forbes.

http://www.forbes.com/2010/08/10/forbes-india-mother-teresa-charity-critical-public-review.html

Here is some stuff on facebook  where people want this one to be banned.

https://www.facebook.com/notes/hemley-gonzalez/17-year-old-girl-left-to-die-in-premdan-a-medical-facility-operated-by-mother-te/218013688217071

https://www.facebook.com/missionariesofcharity

To Conclude

I respect Mother Teresa for the humanitarian work she did. Things would have been great had some of these ulterior motives not been there.

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One Comment

Leave a Comment
  1. bsaikrishna / Mar 1 2015 1:48 pm

    It is a very informative post. Thanks Subbu. I just heard that there is the other side to Mother Teresa, but I never took time to read about it. Your post summarizes it best. I think I definitely don’t respect a person who is doing conversions on death bed. Sometimes I feel people would’ve been better without religion.

    Like

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