'And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.'
In a era where the last to heed the words of Paul are the faith based, it is the skeptic, not so readily resigned to the forces of media and hype that dare to question self described angels. Indeed the words are lost and impenetrable to a blinkered generation that clings tightly to human trophies and appoints saints where the tide of populism takes them. The darling of the Christian church, with both Catholic and protestant tossing aside doctrine to reel in awe of a sermonizing nun who titles herself 'mother' and a special relationship with God that spiritual underlings can only dream of.
There has always been an appetite for myth and legend, perhaps to conjure a sense of mystery or escapism from the dreary and mundane. By the principles of supply and demand we have been sold vampires, were-wolves and the Lock-Ness monster. Another myth that has found longevity is the illusory tale of a shriveled and withered nun dedicated to the alleviation of human suffering. This is the story of Mother Teresa and to many it is a sacred relic of illusion beyond reproach.
Cristopher Hitchens, the most prominent voice and nemesis of the Teresa myth, with his manifesto, 'The Missionary Position' puts it down to sloppy journalism conflated with media promulgation; forces that propelled Teresa to a cult phenomenon on the credulous. But is this mere cynicism? Many volunteers to the hospice, experiencing first hand the poverty loving practices of the order, have expressed their disenchantment. But such is the power of reputation, as Hitchens points out, they find no audience for unsettling truths. There is no need to delve into cynicism to arrive at the unwelcome conclusions that mar the image of a saint, all that's required is objective inquiry.
How does the deception work? The Catholic fundamentalist gathers the sick and dying into her shoddy dens and thereafter paraded to the world. Donations pour in from conscious stricken westerners believing that the poorest of the poor have found their savior.
But what may not be clearly understood is the nuns prescription for pain and suffering. The Albanian hag provided a veneer of servitude and pious credibility to a fund-raising enterprise and the establishment of 500 convents in more than 100 countries that bear the name 'Mother Teresa'. This is love and compassion that the sick and dying can do without. It's no wonder our Teresa refused to give an audit for her 'Missionaries for Charity', this is because she quite modestly, to paraphrase 'operates only in the supernatural.'
Hitchens and others have learned that the deeply held convictions that birthed the Teresa empire of of hospices and convents was not benevolent charity, but rather strict Catholic duties and twisted, fanatical dogmas of Vatican doctrine, particularly the evils of birth control and contraception. Teresa took her place as a emissary for the Vatican's campaign of population control and proselytization. Hitchens insight into the deception is poignant,: 'Mother Teresa was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty.'
Teresa has a somewhat confused view of poverty, the words of Teresa refer: 'I think it is very beautiful for the poor to accept their lot, to share it with the passion of Christ. I think the world is being much helped by the suffering of the poor people.'
Dr. Fox, an editor of The Lancet, a highly respected medical journal, when visiting Teresa's 'home for the dying' was stunned by the shortfall standard of medical care.
'How about simple algorithms that might help the sisters and volunteers distinguish the curable from the incurable? Again no. Such systematic approaches are alien to the ethos of the home. Mother Teresa prefers providence to planning; her rules are designed to prevent any drift towards materialism: the sisters must remain on equal terms with the poor .
...I was disturbed to learn that the formulary includes no strong analgesics.
Along with the neglect of diagnosis, the lack
of good analgesia marks Mother Teresa's approach
as clearly separate from the hospice movement. I know which I prefer.'
Mary Louden, a volunteer, to Teresa's institution wrote of the general neglect and haphazard practices, such as prescribing aspirin to treat the pain of terminal cancer, un-sterilized needles, a shortage of drips and goes on to describe...
'And that he had a really relatively simple kidney complaint that had simply got worse and worse and worse because he hadn't had antibiotics. And he actually needed an operation. I don't recall what the problem was, but she did tell me. And she was so angry, but also very resigned which so many people become in that situation. And she said, 'Well, they won't take him to hospital.' And I said: 'Why? All you have to do is get a cab. Take him to the nearest hospital, demand that he has treatment. Get him an operation.' She said: 'They don't do it. They won't do it. If they do it for one, they have to do it for everybody.'
These conditions were not owed to a lack of funds, (after 3 decades of collecting sizable donations) but a willful exercise in meeting the needs of the poor on Catholic terms.
Ms. shields, a sister of the Teresa order wrote:
'The flood of donations was considered to be a sign of God's approval of Mother Teresa's congregation. We were told that we received more gifts than other religious congregations because God was pleased with Mother, and because the Missionaries of Charity were the sisters who were faithful to the true spirit of religious life. Our bank account was already the size of a great fortune and increased with every postal service delivery. Around $50 million had collected in one checking account in the Bronx. . . . Those of us who worked in the office regularly understood that we were not to speak about our work. The donations rolled in and were deposited in the bank, but they had no effect on our ascetic lives or on the lives of the poor we were trying to help.'
Serge Larivée and Genevieve Chenard of University of Montreal's Department of Psychoeducation and Carole Sénéchal of the University of Ottawa's Faculty of Education published a paper effectively debunking her life of supposed altruism in the March issue of the journal Studies in Religion/Sciences religieuses.
The study confirms what Cristopher Hitchens already knew, that Teresa had questionable ties to fraudsters and wealthy despots. If her saintly status was to believed, why was Teresa moving in such social circles as that of Jean-Claude Duvalie, 'Papa Doc' the Haitian dictator and disgraced fraudsterCharles Keating. Teresa was more than willing to accept donations misappropriated from the proceeds of the drug trade and the sale of body parts from the Duvalier family.
The Savings and Loan scandal, spearheaded by the convicted thief and fraudster, Charles Keating, was one of the biggest frauds in American history. Keating occasioned Teresa the use of his private jet, Teresa in return accompanied him to prestigious engagements. Teresa received donations from Mr Keating amounting to at least 1 and a quarter million dollars. After a letter - with the request:
'to suggest that you perform
the moral and ethical act of returning the money to
its rightful owners.'
by a District Attorney of Los Angeles - no response from Mother Teresa.
These revelations will of course never leave any impression on Catholic and evangelical churches or inspire a re-examination of their boasted saint. For the Pope, the Mother Teresa farce makes a welcome distraction from the publicity raised by priestly escapades, seeing the Catholic church functioning as a recruitment agency for pedophiles.
Evangelical churches are understandably desperate to flaunt a saint where there otherwise appears a greed fest of limousine driven hucksters amid a wasteland of hypocrites. To get the wider church to admit it's been played the fool by a frail, conniving confidence trickster is however asking a bit much.
Hitchens makes the point that Teresa is not the only player in this deception, but also complicit are those who unburden their conscience with donations and adulation toward an imagined figure of charity.