Monday, July 08, 2013


A new exposé of Mother Teresa shows that she—
and the Vatican—were even worse than we thought

From Why Evolution Is True, courtesy of Anne Rice on facebook.  No, seriously, Anne Rice; she's got a Catholic thing going on, apparently:

The criticisms of Agnes Gonxha, as she was christened, have been growing for a long time. I wasn’t aware of them until I read Christopher Hitchens’s cleverly titled book, The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice, which I found deeply disturbing. The book is polemic at Hitchens’s best, and though the facts were surprising, he was never sued and his accusations were never refuted—nor even rebutted. (You can read excerpts here and here, but I urge you to read the book.) In light of that, I accepted Mother Teresa as a deeply flawed person.

In its “criticism” section of her biography, Wikipedia summarizes the growing opprobrium related to her extreme love of suffering (that is, the suffering of her “patients”), her refusal to provide adequate medical care, her association with (and financial support from) shady characters, and her treatment of her nuns.

Now a paper is about to appear (it’s not online yet) that is apparently peer-reviewed, and that expands the list of Mother Teresa’s malfeasances.

More here.

Contemplating the ultimate meaning of Mother Teresa isn't simply your standard, gleeful, atheistic style of clergy-bashing.  Rather, when you consider the celebrated pre-saint's role as a global do-gooder, you're necessarily considering the meaning of poverty, and what society's attitude toward it ought to be.  For Teresa, as far as I can tell, it was something along these lines: poverty will always be a fact of human life, and we can't really do anything about it, but we should be kind to the poor because their suffering is like the suffering of Christ.  Or something to that effect.  Contrast this with the Marxist point of view that the circumstances in which poverty exists are entirely manufactured, which morally compels society to do everything it can to change those circumstances for the better.

If, in fact, much of Teresa's career was a sham, if she had the ability to alleviate a LOT more suffering than she actually did, then this best example of compassion in a capitalist world turns out to be a pretty bad example, after all, suggesting that, in the end, there might not be much room to comfort the suffering in a reality like ours where commerce is society's sole priority.  I mean, if the best was ineffective, then what do we have?  

Not much, really.  All that glitters isn't gold.