Kolkata will take a century to recover from Mother Teresa – Aroup Chatterjee

'Saint' Mother Teresa

Aroup ChatterjeeMy own wish would be to reclaim Kolkata from Teresa—to sever the automatic connection of the two names as the whole wide world sees it. Kolkata’s image under the yoke of Mother Teresa will take a century to recover. In the last 50 years, the city has lost an unimaginable amount from the loss of international business and tourism and will continue to do so. But let us at least loudly, proudly proclaim that we have nothing to do with a medieval creature of darkness—not any more. – Dr Aroup Chatterjee

If Mother Teresa, to be canonised at the Vatican on September 4, is to be named a patron saint of anything it should be for “misinformation”. In the last 20 years of her life, truth became an unknown entity to her. The media aided and abetted her lack of integrity and in a way she cannot be blamed for believing in her own lies.

Intellect was not her strong point and, for someone like her, to be surrounded by hordes of sycophants who were telling her if she said black was white then that had to be true, it became intoxicating. The media did spread the mega-myth about her, but she herself was the source. She repeatedly told the world she went around the city 24×7 “picking up” destitute from its squalid “gutters” (she did not), that she fed up to 9,000 in her soup kitchens (she did not), she never refused a helpless child (she did as a rule), that the dying destitute in her so-called home for the dying Nirmal Hriday died a “beautiful death” (they were treated harshly and often died a miserable, painful death).

Mother Teresa was an ultimate politician who worked on behalf of the Vatican. No, she was not an “agent” as that would be conspiratorial. She did not have to do much subterfuge or skulduggery in India itself, as Indians, particularly the media, were in awe of her and connived with her.

When she said in her Nobel speech that she created 61,237 fewer children from (slum) couples abstaining from sex, no one challenged her on her bogus and fantastic figure; neither did they ask her how at the height of the Cold War abortion could be the “greatest destroyer of peace” (said a thousand times, including in her Nobel speech).

I do not blame world media as much as I blame Indian and particularly Kolkata media. Here she was, a jet-setting celebrity—although appended with the epithet “of Calcutta”—spending six to nine months in a year in Europe and the US, making strange claims about her work and about the disgusting state of the city, but never to be seen in the city’s disasters—major or minor.

Why was she not asked why she re-used needles on her residents in Nirmal Hriday (it was official policy) when she herself received the finest care in the world’s best hospitals?

Even after her death, the Indian fear of blue-bordered saris continues. On August 1, 2005, UK TV showed a child tied to a cot overnight in her orphanage—one Kolkata newspaper grudgingly reported the matter with lots of “alleged”. During her lifetime, even that would be unthinkable. She was white, she hobnobbed with President Ronald Reagan (they were closest of buddies), and oh yes, she had the Nobel—so she had to be divine.

IOR (Vatican Bank) inside Vatican CityDid no one know that she hobnobbed with the Duvaliers of Haiti whose brutality was unsurpassed (whose opponents were often cut up and fed to dogs)? No one in India wanted to know. For the Western media, she was a metaphor, a set-piece, a stratospheric certainty of image in an uncertain and changing world. Conversely, Kolkata was the opposite metaphor of absolute degradation where “foetuses are given to dogs to eat” (as remarked by her “other self” Francis Goree).

It was beyond the West’s interest, energy or remit to robustly challenge these wrong stereotypes. But did Indian journalists not know that her main bank was the Vatican Bank, a dark cavern of corruption, intrigue and murder? Before she died, it was well known that she had accepted millions from Charles Keating, the notorious American swindler, but no one in India cared.

Mother Teresa MedalBengalis showed some rare guts when she was beatified through a “miracle” in 2003. Doctors, and even the then Health Minister, made statements that Monica Besra was cured by prolonged treatment, and not by an aluminium medal. Even Besra herself periodically said her cure was not a miracle. But the Vatican treated Indian opinion with the contempt it always has and proceeded with canonisation.

But what is so great about Catholic saints? People should realise a Catholic saint does not have to be saintly or nice in the secular sense, but has to be pure to Catholic dogma, especially on contraception and abortion. Jose Maria Escriva, a Fascist, is a Catholic saint; another Fascist, Cardinal Stepinac, is a “blessed”. “Saint” John Paul II actively shielded the prolific paedophile and criminal Marcial Maciel over many years. Mother Teresa also wrote a letter of support for a convicted priest Donald McGuire, asking people to overlook his “imprudence”.

If one looks around Mother Teresa’s homes in Kolkata today, one would find many of them acceptable. But one must not forget that this comes after 25 years of campaigning by me, and also persistent global criticism from Hemley Gonzalez, the American former volunteer who in 2008 was so utterly disgusted by what he saw that he founded the Stop the Missionaries of Charity movement and founded his own Responsible Charity. Moreover, in the last six months the order has spruced up a great deal, preparing for the canonisation on Sunday.

And yet, like obliging picaninnies, the Indian government is dutifully sending a delegation to the black-magic ceremony in Rome. (Hindus please note: the Pope is not allowed to wish Hindus personally even on Diwali.)

Be that as it may, my own wish would be to reclaim Kolkata/Calcutta from Teresa—to sever the automatic connection of the two names as the whole wide world sees it. Kolkata’s image under the yoke of Mother Teresa will take a century to recover. In the last 50 years, the city has lost an unimaginable amount from the loss of international business and tourism and will continue to do so. But let us at least loudly, proudly proclaim that we have nothing to do with a medieval creature of darkness—not any more. – The Economic Times, 3 September 2016

» Dr Aroup Chatterjee was born and brought up in Calcutta. He now lives and works as a physician in London. He was, if anything, positively inclined towards Mother Teresa while he was living in Calcutta, though he knew little about her. Upon coming to the West he was appalled at the Teresan mythology and at the gruesome image that his home city had in the world. He has done research on Mother Teresa for over twenty-five years and can be called the world’s foremost authority on the late nun. He is the author of the famous book Mother Teresa—The Untold Story.

Sushma Swaraj & Pope Francis (Sept. 2016)

Hindus protest Mother Teresa's criminal activities in New York City

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How Mother Teresa became a saint – Christopher Hitchens

Narendra Modi

Christopher Hitchens“Mother Teresa was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women. … She was a friend to the worst of the rich, taking misappropriated money from the atrocious Duvalier family in Haiti and from Charles Keating of the Lincoln Savings and Loan. Where did that money, and all the other donations, go?” – Christopher Hitchens

Mother Teresa of CalcuttaI think it was Macaulay who said that the Roman Catholic Church deserved great credit for, and owed its longevity to, its ability to handle and contain fanaticism. This rather oblique compliment belongs to a more serious age. What is so striking about the “beatification” of the woman who styled herself “Mother” Teresa is the abject surrender, on the part of the Church [and Govt of India–Ed], to the forces of showbiz, superstition, and populism.

It’s the sheer tawdriness that strikes the eye first of all. It used to be that a person could not even be nominated for “beatification,” the first step to “sainthood,” until five years after his or her death. This was to guard against local or popular enthusiasm in the promotion of dubious characters. The pope nominated MT a year after her death in 1997. It also used to be that an apparatus of inquiry was set in train, including the scrutiny of an advocatus diaboli or “devil’s advocate,” to test any extraordinary claims. The pope has abolished this office and has created more instant saints than all his predecessors combined as far back as the 16th century.

As for the “miracle” that had to be attested, what can one say? Surely any respectable Catholic cringes with shame at the obviousness of the fakery. A Bengali woman named Monica Besra claims that a beam of light emerged from a picture of MT, which she happened to have in her home, and relieved her of a cancerous tumor. Her physician, Dr. Ranjan Mustafi, says that she didn’t have a cancerous tumor in the first place and that the tubercular cyst she did have was cured by a course of prescription medicine. Was he interviewed by the Vatican’s investigators? No. (As it happens, I myself was interviewed by them but only in the most perfunctory way. The procedure still does demand a show of consultation with doubters, and a show of consultation was what, in this case, it got.)

According to an uncontradicted report in the Italian paper L’Eco di Bergamo, the Vatican’s secretary of state sent a letter to senior cardinals in June, asking on behalf of the pope whether they favoured making MT a saint right away. The pope’s clear intention has been to speed the process up in order to perform the ceremony in his own lifetime. The response was in the negative, according to Father Brian Kolodiejchuk, the Canadian priest who has acted as postulator or advocate for the “canonization.” But the damage, to such integrity as the process possesses, has already been done.

Mother Teresa & Pope John Paul IIDuring the deliberations over the Second Vatican Council, under the stewardship of Pope John XXIII, MT was to the fore in opposing all suggestions of reform. What was needed, she maintained, was more work and more faith, not doctrinal revision. Her position was ultra-reactionary and fundamentalist even in orthodox Catholic terms. Believers are indeed enjoined to abhor and eschew abortion, but they are not required to affirm that abortion is “the greatest destroyer of peace,” as MT fantastically asserted to a dumbfounded audience when receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. Believers are likewise enjoined to abhor and eschew divorce, but they are not required to insist that a ban on divorce and remarriage be a part of the state constitution, as MT demanded in a referendum in Ireland (which her side narrowly lost) in 1996. Later in that same year, she told Ladies Home Journal that she was pleased by the divorce of her friend Princess Diana, because the marriage had so obviously been an unhappy one …

This returns us to the medieval corruption of the Church, which sold indulgences to the rich while preaching hellfire and continence to the poor. MT was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction. And she was a friend to the worst of the rich, taking misappropriated money from the atrocious Duvalier family in Haiti (whose rule she praised in return) and from Charles Keating of the Lincoln Savings and Loan. Where did that money, and all the other donations, go? The primitive hospice in Calcutta was as run down when she died as it always had been—she preferred California clinics when she got sick herself—and her order always refused to publish any audit. But we have her own claim that she opened 500 convents in more than a hundred countries, all bearing the name of her own order. Excuse me, but this is modesty and humility?

George OrwellThe rich world has a poor conscience, and many people liked to alleviate their own unease by sending money to a woman who seemed like an activist for “the poorest of the poor.” People do not like to admit that they have been gulled or conned, so a vested interest in the myth was permitted to arise, and a lazy media never bothered to ask any follow-up questions. Many volunteers who went to Calcutta came back abruptly disillusioned by the stern ideology and poverty-loving practice of the “Missionaries of Charity,” but they had no audience for their story. George Orwell’s admonition in his essay on Gandhi—that saints should always be presumed guilty until proved innocent—was drowned in a Niagara of soft-hearted, soft-headed, and uninquiring propaganda.

One of the curses of India, as of other poor countries, is the quack medicine man, who fleeces the sufferer by promises of miraculous healing. Sunday was a great day for these parasites, who saw their crummy methods endorsed by his holiness and given a more or less free ride in the international press. Forgotten were the elementary rules of logic, that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and that what can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence. More than that, we witnessed the elevation and consecration of extreme dogmatism, blinkered faith, and the cult of a mediocre human personality. Many more people are poor and sick because of the life of MT: Even more will be poor and sick if her example is followed. She was a fanatic, a fundamentalist, and a fraud, and a Church that officially protects those who violate the innocent has given us another clear sign of where it truly stands on moral and ethical questions. – Slate, 20 October 2003

» Christopher Hitchens, now deceased, was a columnist for Vanity Fair and author of the book The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice.

Christopher Hitchens

Mother Teresa: More dirt on the saint of the gutters – Jayant Chowdhury

John Paul II & Mother Teresa riding in the popemobile

It’s high time the world accepted that Mother Teresa was a regressive religious bigot who did little good for the poor and ailing. – Jayant Chowdhury

Now that the dust has settled over the comments made by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat about Mother Teresa and her alleged proselytization, this is a good time to undertake a dispassionate analysis of her life and legacy. Mother Teresa, or the ‘Blessed Teresa of Kolkata’ as she is known after her beatification by the Vatican in October 2003, is undoubtedly considered by the world as a saint who gave care to lakhs of ailing and dying people and salvaged their souls. In the collective imagination of the world, she was a noble soul who dedicated her life to caring for the sick, the disabled, the homeless and the poor and, hence, a saintly soul. The Missionaries of Charity, that she established in 1950, today runs more than 500 missions in over 130 countries and is said to be the richest such order in the world, thanks to the billions of dollars that pour in from all over the world every year.

But, say Mother Teresa’s not inconsiderable number of critics, she and her order, and the work they do, is one of the biggest hoaxes created by western media-orchestrated hype. To them, Mother Teresa’s primary purpose in life was not to provide care to the sick and the destitute, but to spread the word of Christ. Mother Teresa herself said so; she hung a placard outside “Mother House” (the command centre of her order where she also resided) in Kolkata that said: “Tell them we are not here for work, we are here for Jesus. We are religious above all else. We are not social workers, not teachers, not doctors. We are nuns.”

Walter Wuellenweber argues in his incisive article in the December 22, 2006 issue of the German magazine Stern that if Mother and the sisters of the Missionaries of Charity were primarily nuns, what did they need so much money for? She once told British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge (who shared her extreme right-wing Catholic views) and was the first architect of the elaborate myth that was constructed around her: “There is always the danger that we may become only social workers. Our works are only an expression of our love for Christ”.

But it’s primarily her work that attracts the fiercest criticism. She, and the Missionaries of Charity (MoC), have been accused of not doing enough for the sick and disabled in her homes, of not utilizing the vast resources at her disposal to provide modern medical treatment to them, of diverting most of the funds received in the name of the poor to the Vatican Bank, of being opaque in financial transactions, of hobnobbing with crooks and fraudsters and accepting their ill-gotten wealth and of promoting her archaic, ultra-orthodox and dogmatic views on issues like abortion, contraception and homosexuality.

Mother Teresa's home for the dying in KolkataHorrible conditions at MoC homes

Former nuns and volunteers who have worked in MoC-run homes have written about the atrocious conditions at such facilities and how the sick are denied proper medical care due to Mother Teresa’s atrocious belief that “suffering was a gift from God”. Mother Teresa once told journalists: “There is something beautiful in seeing the poor accept their lot, to suffer it like Christ’s passion. I think the world is being helped by their suffering.” And so she, and her order, let the poor suffer as a matter of principle!

Doctors who have visited her homes have spoken and written about a significant lack of hygiene, proper medical care, absence of trained staff and inadequate food for the patients there. S. Bedford, a Toronto-based travel writer and journalist provided a shocking expose of conditions at Prem Dan, a MoC home in Kolkata, in the September 2014 issue of the magazine New Internationalist. The Guardian once described the care given in MoC hospices as an “organized form of neglectful assistance”. Robin Fox, the editor of British medical journal The Lancet, who visited Mother Teresa’s Home for Dying Destitute in Kolkata, criticized the medical care, or the lack of it, being provided to patients there, and held her responsible for the horrible conditions, for not making any distinction between the curable and non-curable patients and for leaving all of them to die.

Amy Gigi Alexander, who spent many years as a volunteer in Daya Dan, a MoC-run home for children with special needs in Kolkata and in MoC homes in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Bolivia, Bangladesh, France, England and America since 2007, writes: “Standards for treatment were antiquated and the children often crawled around on hands and knees rather than using wheelchairs that were kept unused in a storage room”. “Mother House provided the budget for only the children’s basic needs and those needs did not include medical that was not deemed ‘necessary’. The order did not pay for things that would improve the quality of life, extend life, or make life more comfortable. Therefore, many children had had diseases that caused them to suffer, or conditions that were treatable,” she wrote.

Missionary of Charity nuns entering the Chase Bank in New York.However, when Mother Teresa herself required medical treatment, she sought and got it from the best medical facilities in America and India!

No dearth of funds

What is inexplicable is why the MoC ran, and still runs, its facilities in such a parsimonious fashion? There is no doubt that it is awash with money. An extensive study of Mother Teresa and her MoC carried out by Professor Serge Larivee and Genevieve Chenard of the University of Montreal’s Department of Psychoeducation and Carole Senechal of University of Ottowa’s Faculty of Education resulted in a paper (released two years ago) that said the MoC had raised hundreds of millions of dollars. “Mother Teresa was miserly with her foundation’s millions when it came to humanity’s sufferings. During numerous floods in India or following the leak of poisonous gas from a pesticides plant in Bhopal, she offered numerous prayers and medallions, but no monetary aid,” observed Professor Larivee.

Investigations by Stern revealed that MoC used only 7% of the donations for charity and the rest were funneled into secret bank accounts or used to build more missions. Walter Wuellenweber, in his article in Stern, quotes Susan Shields who served as Sister Virgin for nine and half years at MOC’s Holy Ghost House in New York’s Bronx, as saying that every night, 25 nuns there spent many hours preparing receipts for donations that ranged between five and a thousand dollars and during Christmas, the flow of cheques, many for 50,000 dollars and more, became “uncontrollable”. Shields was quoted as saying that one year, an MoC account in a New York bank had more than $50 million. “Fifty million dollars in one bank account in a predominantly non-Catholic country. How much then were they collecting in Europe and from around the world?” wonders Wuellenweber.

Financial opacity

Mother Teresa had consistently refused to provide any accounts of the donations she had received and how they were spent. Stern, which investigated MoC’s affairs, reported that the UK was the only country where MoC, the largest organization of its kind in the world, allowed the authorities a look at its accounts. The MoC has never issued any statement of its accounts in India, even though it is legally binding to do so and when all other similar organizations like the Ramakrishna Mission and the Bharat Sevasram Sangha regularly submit audited statement of accounts.

Walter Wuellenweber wrote that “for book-keeping, the sisters use school notebooks in which they write in cramped penciled figures. Until they (the notebooks) are full. Then everything is erased and the notebook used again!” It is mysterious why Indian authorities have not asked the MoC to submit audited accounts every year.

Mother Teresa & Michele Duvalier of HaitiHobnobbing with dictators and fraudsters

Mother Teresa flew to Haiti in 1981 to receive the Legion d’Honneur from Jean-Claude Duvalier, the maniacal dictator of that country and routinely accepted huge donations from him. She once said: “Duvalier loved the poor and their love is reciprocated”. She visited Eastern European countries during the days when they were part of the Soviet Bloc and ruled by despotic Communist regimes, accepted their hospitality and set up homes in those countries.

She accepted donations from British publisher Robert Maxwell who embezzled $450 million from his own companies’ pension funds. She also took huge sums of money from the infamous American banker and financier Charles Keating and used to travel by his private jet in the US. She infamously pleaded leniency for him when he was prosecuted for fraud, racketeering and conspiracy. She supported the Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi in 1975 and said: “This is good. People are happier. There are more jobs. There are no strikes.”

Ultra-orthodox views

Mother Teresa harboured Catholic right-wing views on issues like abortion, contraception and homosexuality. She termed homosexuality a “scourge” and said abortion is “the worst evil”. “Abortion is a direct war, a direct killing, a direct murder by the mother of her own child. If a mother can kill her own child, what will prevent us from killing ourselves or one another?” she once said. In the context of the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, when an estimated 45,000 women were raped by Pakistani army, she said the women should keep their babies.

The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and PracticeThere have been quite a few critical books and films made on Mother Teresa. One of the most well-researched among them is one by Aroup Chatterjee, a London-based physician, who worked in one of Mother Teresa’s homes. His The Final Verdict is a damning indictment of Mother Teresa and her work. Based on his book, British journalists Christopher Hitchens and Tariq Ali produced a documentary, Hell’s Angel, for BBC’s Channel 4. Hitchens also wrote the well-known book The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa In Theory and Practice, that blew many myths around the nun. Hitchens puts it succinctly when he says: “Mother was not a friend of the poor, but a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from god. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty—empowerment of women and their emancipation from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction”.

Aroup Chatterjee points out that of the few hundred charitable organizations working for the poor, destitute and ailing in Kolkata, the MoC is one of the largest in terms of size and number of nuns, workers and volunteers, but caters to a very small percentage of the people who need help. Even other Christian organizations do much more. Organisations like the Ramakrishna Mission routinely cater to a few times the number of poor and ailing that the MoC does, despite having much lesser funds.

In the ultimate analysis, a lot of that aura surrounding Mother Teresa and her order is a myth created by the media and the Catholic Church which sees in her beatification and eventual canonization the perfect means to revitalize the Church at a time when churches are empty and the Vatican’s authority on the decline. And for many in the western world, Mother Teresa reinforces their deep-seated prejudices that it is ultimately the white man (or woman) who provides succour to the unwashed, heathen masses of the “brown” and “black” world. She made westerners feel good that they still are the saviours of the world. – Swarajya, 16 March 2015

» Jayant Chowdhury is an avid observer of and commentator on politics and society in Bengal and north-eastern  India.

New References

The ‘miracle’ that makes a saint out of Mother Teresa – Jaideep Mazumdar

Pope John Paul II & Mother Teresa

Jaideep MazumdarThis woman drives to the hospital and places the Mother Teresa medallion under her husband’s pillow. And then, even as her husband is being readied for surgery, she drives back to her church to pray! … Did she drive back an hour to be able to pray with the Missionaries of Charity nuns so that the outlandish miracle could be attributed to Mother Teresa? – Jaideep Mazumdar

In early December 2008, 34-year-old Marcilio Haddad Andrino, a PhD in mechanical engineering from one of Brazil’s best institutes (University of Campinas) went on his honeymoon to Gramado, his wife’s hometown. There, he fell seriously ill and was driven 1111 kilometres, a journey that would have taken 14 hours at least, to a little-known hospital (St. Lucas Hospital) in Santos on 8 December.

According to a news report that appeared in Avvenire (an Italian newspaper that is affiliated to the Vatican) Andrino, of Lebanese origin, was diagnosed with hydrocephalus (abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain) and eight abscesses (tumours) in the brain, and had gone into a coma. But his wife left the hospital and drove for over an hour to São Vicente (where the couple used to reside) to pray at her church—Our Lady of Aparecida Church.

The priest at the church, Father Elmiran Ferreira, who very conveniently had a medallion bearing a portrait of Mother Teresa in his pocket, gave it to Andrino’s wife and asked her to take it back and keep it Mother Teresa Medalunder her husband’s pillow at the hospital before returning to the church to pray for her husband. The woman dutifully returned to Santos and did the priest’s bidding.

The next day, even as Andrino was being readied for surgery, his wife drove back to São Vicente to pray at her church along with Father Elmiran. A group of Missionaries of Charity nuns living at São Vicente also joined the lady and the priest to pray for Andrino’s recovery and ask for Mother Teresa’s intercession.

Meanwhile, Andrino, who was comatose, was wheeled into the operation theatre at 6.10 pm on 9 December. But doctors could not perform the tracheal intubation for anaesthesia. They, quite inexplicably, left Andrino in the operation theatre (OT) and, presumably, went to drink coffee! Half an hour later, they returned to the OT to retry the procedure and nearly jumped out of their skins when they saw the patient fully awake and without pain.

“What am I doing here?”, Andrino is said to have asked the doctors, who were possibly too dumbfounded to reply. The next (10 December) morning, when his wife went to the hospital, she was startled to see him sitting on his hospital bed sipping coffee.

A couple of days later, he was back home with all the excess cerebrospinal fluid and the eight tumours having mysteriously disappeared. Soon after, he landed a good job with the federal government and shifted to the country’s capital, Rio de Janeiro, with his wife, who has since borne him two children.

This fantastical story, with its plethora of loopholes, will form the basis of Mother Teresa’s canonisation a little over two weeks from now on 4 September. Thousands from India, including West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj—who will lead the Indian delegation, will journey to the Vatican to attend the ceremony, where this “miracle” will be celebrated.

The detailed account of this “miracle cure” of Andrino—which appeared in Avvenire, the first to announce the date of Mother Teresa’s canonisation (conferring sainthood)—stretches one’s credulity and throws up many questions. Why would a seriously ill patient be taken to a nondescript hospital more than a thousand kilometres away when Porto Alegre, the city nearest to Gramado (where Andrino was on a honeymoon; and what sort of person would go to his wife’s hometown on a honeymoon anyway?), a major city in Brazil, was just 125 kilometres (2.5-hour drive) away?

Porto Alegre has the Hospital de Clínicas, a renowned university hospital in Brazil that has 60 specialities, and gets patients from across Brazil. In a medical emergency, it would be natural for a patient to be taken to the nearest hospital, more so if that hospital is highly reputed, rather than being taken to a nondescript one more than a thousand kilometres away.

The whole account of a (presumably) newly-wed woman (since the two had gone on their honeymoon) rushing off to her local church leaving her critically ill and comatose husband in a hospital is quite implausible. That is not normal human behaviour.

But after having left her comatose husband in hospital and met her parish priest, this woman drives back to the hospital and places the medallion under her husband’s pillow. And then, even as her husband is being readied for surgery, she drives back to her church to pray! Which woman would ever do that? Did she drive back an hour to be able to pray with the Missionaries of Charity nuns so that the (outlandish) miracle could be attributed to Mother Teresa?

And even as her, and her priest’s and nuns’ prayers are answered almost instantly by the “Blessed Teresa of Kolkata” (as Mother Teresa came to be known after her beatification in October 2003), the Mother Teresa & Pope John Paul II(distraught?) lady remains unaware of her husband’s miraculous recovery. This at a time when, less than eight years ago, Brazil had (according to this Wikipedia entry) 150.6 million mobile phone users.

Would not a woman whose husband was dying call up the hospital using a mobile phone (borrowing one if she doesn’t possess one) to know about her husband after his scheduled surgery? Would she wait till the next morning to physically visit the hospital to find out about her husband’s condition?

This story is also full of coincidences. Many outside the Santos diocese came to know of this miracle, but it was not reported to the Vatican. It was only eight years later, in 2013, that Pope Francis got to know about it during a visit to Rio. A neurosurgeon in Rio, Jose Augusto Nasser, was assigned as the Pope’s personal physician during the visit and told him at the time.

Nasser also happened to be the personal physician of Father Caetano Rizzi, who was the judicial vicar of Santos when this miracle occurred. Incidentally, there are no accounts of Father Caetano suffering from any neurological disorders that required surgical intervention. And a surgeon is not usually a personal physician of any person. But we are talking about fantastical stories here.

Father Caetano, like Andrino’s wife, also hails from Gramado and knew the lady’s family. Father Caetano had told Dr Nasser, a devout Catholic, about the miracle cure of Andrino. Nasser then narrated the account of this miracle to the Pope and sent a report on it to the Vatican as well.

Last year, Father Caetano was told by the Vatican that it was examining the miracle. In the next week, three representatives from Rome reached Brazil, heard testimonies of Father Elmiran and 14 others and returned to Rome. They prepared a 400-page report on the miracle.

Fr Brian KolodiejchukA team of three senior priests and two doctors carried out more investigations to conclude that the miracle was “instant, perfect and complete, lasting and scientifically inexplicable”. One of these priests was Father Brian Kolodiejchuk, a member of the Missionaries of Charity Fathers, a religious community of priests founded by Mother Teresa. It would be in Father Brian’s interest to have Mother Teresa declared a saint.

Of the two doctors, one was Marcus Vinicius Serra, a neurosurgeon who had treated Andrino and had “witnessed the miracle”. The other was Monica Mazzurana Benetti, a surgeon, who is Father Caetano’s niece and close to him. Benetti also hails from Gramado, a town with a strong Catholic influence.

Father Caetano also oversaw the case for another miracle that happened in Santos and that led to Josephine Margaret Bakhita, a Sudanese-born former slave who worked in Italy as a nun, being declared a saint in 2000 by the Vatican. The miracle attributed to Josephine occurred in Santos in 1992 when a local woman miraculously recovered from ulcers caused by diabetes and hypertension in her legs. Father Caetano played a pivotal role in having the cure of the woman being declared a miracle that propelled Josephine to sainthood.

Mother Teresa visited São Paulo soon after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. Soon, her nuns arrived in São Paulo and Santos, where they have a good presence. They regularly visit the Our Lady of Aparecida Church in São Vicente that Andrino’s wife used to frequent. This church is a simple building painted in white with thin blue lines stencilling its doors and windows. The similarity with the blue-bordered white saris worn by the Missionaries of Charity nuns is uncanny. – Swarajya, 19 August 2016

» Jaideep Mazumdar is a journalist with many years of experience in The Times Of India, Open, The Outlook, The Hindustan Times, The Pioneer and some other news organizations. He lives in Kolkata has reported on politics, society and many other subjects from North, East and North East India as well as Nepal and Bangladesh.

Sushma Swaraj

Mother Teresa did not care for the poor. She cared for poverty and made it into a very lucrative business. Her religious order is now the richest in the world. It is therefore entirely inappropriate for a high-ranking minister of the secular Indian Republic to attend the sectarian religious programme for this sadistic woman at the Vatican on Sept. 4th. Those who agree may sign the petition requesting Sushma Swaraj not to go HERE.

Ten serious accusations against Mother Teresa – Adrian Asis

Mother Teresa

Adrian AsisIt’s easy to dismiss the criticisms against Mother Teresa as the biased rantings of anti-Catholic skeptics who aim to discredit her. But perhaps, it is wiser to look into the evidence these critics present before making a judgment on the life of a woman once dubbed “the living saint.” – Adrian Asis

Mother Teresa is commonly depicted in such a saintly manner that it’s difficult for most people to imagine she has even one bad bone in her body. After all, the religious sister is responsible for founding the Missionaries of Charity, a religious congregation that provides free care for the sick, the hungry, the orphaned, and the dying. Moreover, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and was beatified as “Blessed Teresa of Calcutta” by the Catholic Church in 2003. And yet, to this day, eighteen years after her death, numerous critics still insist that Mother Teresa is not the saint many people believe her to be.

Of course it’s easy to dismiss the criticisms against Mother Teresa as the biased rantings of anti-Catholic skeptics who aim to discredit her. But perhaps, it is wiser to look into the evidence these critics present before making a judgment on the life of a woman once dubbed “the living saint.” Here are ten of the most serious accusations that have been brought up against Mother Teresa of Calcutta:

10. Forced Catholicism on others

Because Calcutta (now “Kolkata”) is composed predominantly of Hindus, they are responsible for many of the criticisms against Mother Teresa, most especially with regard to her conversion of Calcuttans into Catholics. An example of such a critic is head of an Indian Hindu nationalist group Mohan Bhagwat who, in a public speech, said, “It’s good to work for a cause with selfless intentions. But Mother Teresa’s work had ulterior motive, which was to convert the person who was being served to Christianity.” In support of Bhagwat’s claim, researchers revealed that nuns at Mother Teresa’s institution secretly baptized the dying regardless of the patients’ religious affiliation. More specifically, Mother Teresa was said to have taught nuns how to ask the dying if they wanted a “ticket to heaven,” after which a positive reply would be followed by cooling the dying’s head with a damp cloth while the nun softly uttered the words for Catholic baptism.

9. Substandard quality of medical care

Mother Teresa established the Kalighat Home for the Dying in 1952 by converting an abandoned Hindu temple into a free hospital. As the name of the facility suggests, its main purpose is to provide its patients with an opportunity to die with dignity. However, in 1991, the editor of the medical journal The Lancet paid a visit to the hospice and observed that conditions there were far from ideal. More specifically, Robin Fox described the quality of the care provided to dying patients as “haphazard,” including unacceptable practices like the reuse of needles and the mixing of tuberculosis-infected patients with the uninfected. Worse, no distinction was made between the dying and the curable, thus leaving even curable patients to waste away. Furthermore, other critics pointed to the hospital’s disregard for modern medical practices, including the most basic of diagnosis procedures. However, Mother Teresa’s defenders countered the accusations by pointing out that the facility was only meant to serve as a refuge for the dying.

8. Support for the suspension of civil liberties

“The Emergency,” which took place from June 25, 1975 until March 21, 1977, is one of the most controversial intervals in India’s history. During the period, then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi imposed a dictatorship whereby civil liberties were suspended and most of her political enemies were imprisoned. Furthermore, the press was heavily censored, and a shocking mass-sterilization campaign was said to have been carried out by the Prime Minister’s son. Mother Teresa, however, seemed to have failed to recognize the oppression present at that time. Of the period, she commented, “People are happier. There are more jobs. There are no strikes.” Well, the Indians of the time certainly seemed to disagree with Mother Teresa as during elections in 1977, Gandhi and her son lost their seats in parliament, and the opposition was overwhelmingly swept into power.

7. Warped understanding of suffering

The Catholic Church is often criticized for allegedly teaching its followers to revel in suffering, and Mother Teresa is said to have been among the teaching’s most prominent purveyors. During a Washington, D.C. press conference in 1981, for example, Mother Teresa was asked, “Do you teach the poor to endure their lot?” and she replied,

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.

This response is said to exemplify the crooked mentality behind Mother Teresa’s insistence on keeping her facilities substandard despite the availability of funding to improve their services.

6. Inconsistency in teachings and actions

Perhaps even worse than allegations of her warped understanding of suffering are accusations of Mother Teresa’s hypocrisy. These are rooted in the advanced treatments she received for her illnesses despite her supposed appreciation for the value of suffering. More specifically, in 1985, Mother Teresa underwent cataract surgery, including the implantation of an artificial lens, at the St. Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan. Then later, in 1989, the “Saint of the Gutters” received a pacemaker at the Woodlands Nursing Home in Calcutta. Furthermore, Mother Teresa has been accused of being selective in her values, such as when she openly opposed the legalization of divorce but supported Princess Diana when she divorced Prince Charles.

5. Questionable associations and silence on abuse

Mother Teresa has been documented to have associated with several individuals whose records of uprightness are questionable at best. In 1981, for example, she visited Michèle Duvalier, then the wife of Haiti president Jean-Claude Duvalier, who was later overthrown by popular uprising because of the terrible abuses of his regime. However, Mother Teresa instead ended up singing praises for the people’s familiarity with the First Lady and even accepted a national award from the government — all the while remaining silent on the numerous human rights violations of the regime. Another similar encounter took place in 1989, when Mother Teresa visited communist Albania. At that time, the government there was widely perceived to be openly oppressive to anyone who opposed it, and yet, Mother Teresa met with the nation’s leaders without commenting on their abuses.

4. Accepted donations from criminals

Connected to Mother Teresa’s questionable associations is her practice of keeping donations from criminals. One example involved Robert Maxwell, a British Member of Parliament who donated to Mother Teresa’s charities but was later found to have misappropriated the pension funds of his media company. Even more infamous was the case involving Charles Keating, a moral crusader who donated millions of dollars to Mother Teresa’s charities and even had her use his private jet. Later though, despite Mother Teresa sending the court a letter to attest to Keating’s kindness and generosity, he was found guilty of multiple counts of fraud that deprived thousands of people of their life savings. Then, after Keating had been convicted, the Deputy District Attorney wrote Mother Teresa a letter asking that the money she had received from Keating be returned. She did not reply.

3. Lack of transparency with funding and expenses

With all of the positive attention that Mother Teresa commanded and still commands, it is uncontested that her charities have received millions in donations from various sources. And this has led her critics to ask, “Where is all the money?” In fact, even Susan Shields, a former nun at the Missionaries of Charity, has asked the question. Shields claims she was assigned to record donations at the institution, and despite the fact that she regularly wrote receipts for donations of up to $50,000, the nuns continued to beg for supplies and reuse syringes. Furthermore, Stern, a German magazine, exposed that despite Indian laws requiring charitable organizations to publish their finances, the Missionaries of Charity never did. Stern also reported that only 7% of the 5.3 million Deutsche Marks donated in England in 1991 had been used for charitable purposes. The rest? Head of the Missionaries chapter in England, Sister Teresina, insisted, “Sorry, we can’t tell you that.”

2. Doubtful miracle attributed to her

This item is not an accusation directed at Mother Teresa but rather at those responsible for her beatification. However, the issue does raise doubts on the integrity of those defending her legacy. The matter in question has to do with Mother Teresa’s beatification, which like all those before her, required the documentation of a miracle performed with the candidate’s intercession. In the case of Mother Teresa’s beatification, the “miracle” certified by the Vatican as genuine involves the healing of Monica Besra, a woman from Calcutta.

On September 5, 1998, exactly one year after Mother Teresa’s death, Besra applied a medallion bearing Mother Teresa’s image over what she believed was a tumor in her stomach, and this act purportedly caused the growth and the pain it caused to disappear instantly. However, the doctors who handled Monica’s case over several months claim that the growth in Monica’s stomach was not a full-grown tumor and that treatments they had administered could have been responsible for the cure. In fact, even Monica’s husband, Seiku, believes that his “wife was cured by the doctors and not by any miracle.” Adding to the mystery, the medical records of Besru’s case were taken away by a certain Sister Betta of the Missionaries of Charity, and a call to her by Time magazine simply had her responding, “No comment.”

1. False claims about the impact of her work

Even the harshest critics of Mother Teresa concede that she had a positive impact on some people’s lives, but how many lives, really? Aroup Chatterjee, an atheist who performed extensive research on Mother Teresa, claimed that “the living saint” deliberately misled the public several times about how many people the Missionaries of Charity were helping. For example, Chatterjee noted that Mother Teresa repeatedly changed the figures—from as low as 1,000 to as many as 9,000—relating to how many people her charities in Calcutta had fed, sometimes in speeches delivered within just days of each other. Then there’s Mother Teresa’s claim of a “modern school [in Motijheel]. . . with over 5,000 children in it” even if no such school established by her with such a large number of students actually exists. – The Richest, 7 May 2015

» Adrian Asis is a freelance writer from the Philippines.

Academics condemn Mother Teresa

The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice

Petitions

There are two petitions at Change.org requesting Prime Minister Narendra Modi not to send official government representation to the controversial canonization ceremony for Mother Teresa on September 4th at the Vatican. Official Indian government representation for this sectarian Catholic religious function is deemed to be highly inappropriate as India describes herself to be a modern, science-oriented secular republic that does not favour one religious group over another. See the petitions HERE and HERE.

See also

  1. Kolkata will take a century to recover from Mother Teresa – Aroup Chatterjee
  2. How Mother Teresa became a saint – Christopher Hitchens
  3. Mother Teresa’s troubled legacy – S. Bedford
  4. Mother Teresa ‘a friend of poverty, not of the poor’ – Carol Hunt
  5. Living and working with the Missionaries of Charity – Amy Gigi Alexander
  6. Mother Teresa: More dirt on the saint of the gutters – Jayant Chowdhury
  7. Aroup Chatterjee: Revealing the whole truth about Mother Teresa – Kai Schultz
  8. St Teresa: The hypocrisy of it all – Jayant Chowdhury
  9. The scandal of Mother Teresa’s sainthood – Canterbury Atheist
  10. Mother Teresa defended notorious paedophile priest – Nelson Jones
  11. Mommie Dearest – Christopher Hitchens
  12. Nobel Prize acceptance speech – Mother Teresa
  13. To many critics, Mother Teresa is still no saint –  Adam Taylor
  14. Mother Teresa and her millions – Susan Shields & Walter Wuellenweber
  15. The ‘miracle’ that makes a saint out of Mother Teresa – Jaideep Mazumdar
  16. Mother Teresa was “anything but a saint” say research scholars – Kounteya Sinha
  17. Indian Rationalists question mother Teresa’s ovarian miracle – Sanal Edamaruku
  18. Mother Teresa brainwashed Hindus and fuelled an insurgency, claim BJP leaders – Andrew Marszal
  19. Is canonising Mother Teresa the Vatican’s strategy to gain ground in India? – Sandeep B.
  20. VIDEOS: Mother Teresa and her cult of suffering – Christopher Hitchens, Aroup Chatterjee & Others

 

Mother Teresa: Where are her millions? – Walter Wuellenweber

 Vatican Bank (Institute for the Works of Religion)
Walter Wuellenweber“Every year, according to the returns filed by the Missionaries of Charity with the British authorities, a portion of the fortune is sent to accounts of the order in other countries. One of the recipients is however, always Rome. The fortune of this famous charitable organisation is controlled from Rome—from an account at the Vatican Bank. And what happens with monies at the Vatican Bank is so secret that even God is not allowed to know about it.” — Walter Wuellenweber

The Angel of the poor died some years ago. Donations still flow in to her Missionaries of Charity like to no other cause. But the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize vowed to live in poverty. What then, happened to so much money?

If there is a heaven, then she is surely there: Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu from Skopje in Macedonia, better known as Mother Teresa. She came to Calcutta on the 6th of January 1929 as an 18-year-old sister of the Order of Loreto. 68 years later luminaries from all over the world assembled in Calcutta in order to honour her with a state funeral. In these 68 years she had founded the most successful order in the history of the Catholic church, received the Nobel Peace Prize and became the most famous Catholic of our time.

Are doubts permitted, regarding this “monument”?

In Calcutta, one meets many doubters.

For example, Samity, a man of around 30 with no teeth, who lives in the slums. He is one of the “poorest of the poor” to whom Mother Teresa was supposed to have dedicated her life. With a plastic bag in hand, he stands in a kilometre long queue in Calcutta’s Park Street. The poor wait patiently, until the helpers shovel some rice and lentils into their bags. But Samity does not get his grub from Mother Teresa’s institution, but instead from the Assemblies of God, an American [Evangelical Christian] charity, that serves 18000 meals here daily.

“Mother Teresa?” says Samity, “We have not received anything from her here. Ask in the slums — who has received anything from the sisters here—you will find hardly anybody.”

Pannalal Manik also has doubts. “I don’t understand why you educated people in the West have made this woman into such a goddess!” Manik was born some 56 years ago in the Rambagan slum, which at about 300 years of age, is Calcutta’s oldest. What Manik has achieved, can well be called a “miracle”. He has built 16 apartment buildings in the midst of the slum—living space for 4000 people. Money for the building materials—equivalent to DM10000 per apartment building—was begged for by Manik from the Ramakrishna Mission, the largest assistance-organisation in India. The slum-dwellers built the buildings themselves. It has become a model for the whole of India. But what about Mother Teresa? “I went to her place 3 times,” said Manik. “She did not even listen to what I had to say. Everyone on earth knows that the sisters have a lot of money. But no one knows what they do with it!”

In Calcutta there are about 200 charitable organisations helping the poor. Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity are not amongst the biggest helpers: that contradicts the image of the organisation. The name “Mother Teresa” was and is tied to the city of Calcutta. All over the world admirers and supporters of the Nobel Prize winner believe that it must be there that her organisation is particularly active in the fight against poverty. “All lies,” says Aroup Chatterjee.

The doctor who lives in London was born and brought up in Calcutta. Chatterjee who has been working for years on a book on the myth of Mother Teresa, speaks to the poor in the slums of Calcutta, or combs through the speeches of the Nobel Prize winner. “No matter where I search, I only find lies. For example the lies about schools. Mother T has often stated that she runs a school in Calcutta for more than 5000 children. 5000 children!—that would have to be a huge school, one of the biggest in all of India. But where is this school? I have never found it, nor do I know anybody who has seen it!” says Chatterjee.

Compared to other charitable organisations in Calcutta, the nuns with the 3 blue stripes are ahead in two respects: they are world-famous, and, they have the most money. But how much exactly, has always been a closely guarded secret of the organisation. Indian law requires charitable organisations to publish their accounts. Mother Teresa’s organisation ignores this prescription! It is not known if the Finance Ministry in Delhi who would be responsible for charities’ accounts, have the actual figures. Upon Stern’s inquiry, the Ministry informed us that this particular query was listed as “classified information”.

The organisation has 6 branches in Germany. Here too financial matters are a strict secret. “It’s nobody’s business how much money we have, I mean to say how little we have,” says Sr Pauline, head of the German operations. Maria Tingelhoff had handled the organisation’s book-keeping on a voluntary basis until 1981. “We did see 3 million a year,” she remembers. But Mother Teresa never quite trusted the worldly helpers completely. So the sisters took over the financial management themselves in 1981. “Of course I don’t know how much money went in, in the years after that, but it must be many multiples of 3 million,” estimates Mrs Tingelhoff. “Mother was always very pleased with the Germans.”

Missionary of Charity nuns entering the Chase Bank in New York.Perhaps the most lucrative branch of the organisation is the “Holy Ghost” House in New York’s Bronx. Susan Shields served the order there for a total of nine and a half years as Sister Virgin. “We spent a large part of each day writing thank you letters and processing cheques,” she says. “Every night around 25 sisters had to spend many hours preparing receipts for donations. It was a conveyor belt process: some sisters typed, others made lists of the amounts, stuffed letters into envelopes, or sorted the cheques. Values were between $5 and $100.000. Donors often dropped their envelopes filled with money at the door. Before Christmas the flow of donations was often totally out of control. The postman brought sackfuls of letters —cheques for $50000 were no rarity.” Sister Virgin remembers that one year there was about $50 million in a New York bank account. $50 million in one year!—in a predominantly non-Catholic country. How much then, were they collecting in Europe or the world? It is estimated that worldwide they collected at least $100 million per year—and that has been going on for many many years.

While the income is utter secret, the expenditures are equally mysterious. The order is hardly able to spend large amounts. The establishments supported by the nuns are so tiny (inconspicuous) that even the locals have difficulty tracing them. Often “Mother Teresa’s Home” means just a living accommodation for the sisters, with no charitable function. Conspicuous or useful assistance cannot be provided there. The order often receives huge donations in kind, in addition to the monetary munificence. Boxes of medicines land at Indian airports. Donated food grains and powdered milk arrive in containers at Calcutta port. Clothing donations from Europe and the US arrive in unimaginable quantities. On Calcutta’s pavement stalls, traders can be seen selling used western labels for 25 rupees (DM1) apiece. Numerous traders call out, “Shirts from Mother, trousers from Mother.”

Unlike with other charities, the Missionaries of Charity spend very little on their own management, since the organisation is run at practically no cost. The approximately 4000 sisters in 150 countries form the most treasured workforce of all global multi-million dollar operations. Having taken vows of poverty and obedience, they work for no pay, supported by 300,000 good citizen helpers.

By their own admission, Mother Teresa’s organisation has about 500 locations worldwide. But for purchase or rent of property, the sisters do not need to touch their bank accounts. “Mother always said, we don’t spend for that,” remembers Sunita Kumar, one the richest women in Calcutta and supposedly Mother T’s closest associate outside the order. “If Mother needed a house, she went straight to the owner, whether it was the State or a private person, and worked on him for so long that she eventually got it free.”

Her method was also successful in Germany. In March the “Bethlehem House” was dedicated in Hamburg, a shelter for homeless women. Four sisters work there. The architecturally conspicuous building cost DM2.5 million. The fortunes of the order have not spent a penny toward the amount. The money was collected by a Christian association in Hamburg. With Mother T as figure-head it was naturally short work to collect the millions.

Mother Teresa saw it as her God-given right never to have to pay anyone for anything. Once she bought food for her nuns in London for GB£500. When she was told she’d have to pay at the till, the diminutive seemingly harmless nun showed her Balkan temper and shouted, “This is for the work of God!” She raged so loud and so long that eventually a businessman waiting in the queue paid up on her behalf.

England is one of the few countries where the sisters allow the authorities at least a quick glance at their accounts. Here the order took in DM5.3 million in 1991. And expenses (including charitable expenses)?—around DM360,000 or less than 7%. Whatever happened to the rest of the money? Sister Teresina, the head for England, defensively states, “Sorry we can’t tell you that.” Every year, according to the returns filed with the British authorities, a portion of the fortune is sent to accounts of the order in other countries. How much to which countries is not declared. One of the recipients is however, always Rome. The fortune of this famous charitable organisation is controlled from Rome,—from an account at the Vatican Bank. And what happens with monies at the Vatican Bank is so secret that even God is not allowed to know about it. One thing is sure however—Mother’s outlets in poor countries do not benefit from largesse of the rich countries. The official biographer of Mother Teresa, Kathryn Spink, writes, “As soon as the sisters became established in a certain country, Mother normally withdrew all financial support.” Branches in very needy countries therefore only receive start-up assistance. Most of the money remains in the Vatican Bank.

Stern asked the Missionaries of Charity numerous times for information about location of the donations, both in writing as well in person during a visit to Mother Teresa’s house in Calcutta. The order has never answered.

“You should visit the House in New York, then you’ll understand what happens to donations,” says Eva Kolodziej. The Polish lady was a Missionary of Charity for 5 years. “In the cellar of the homeless shelter there are valuable books, jewellery and gold. What happens to them? The sisters receive them with smiles, and keep them. Most of these lie around uselessly forever.”

The millions that are donated to the order have a similar fate. Susan Shields (formerly Sr Virgin) says, “The money was not misused, but the largest part of it wasn’t used at all. When there was a famine in Ethiopia, many cheques arrived marked ‘for the hungry in Ethiopia’. Once I asked the sister who was in charge of accounts if I should add up all those very many cheques and send the total to Ethiopia. The sister answered, ‘No, we don’t send money to Africa.’ But I continued to make receipts to the donors, ‘For Ethiopia’.”

By the accounts of former sisters, the finances are a one way street. “We were always told, the fact that we receive more than other orders, shows that God loves Mother Teresa more,” says Susan Shields. Donations and hefty bank balances are a measure of God’s love. Taking is holier than giving.

The sufferers are the ones for whom the donations were originally intended. The nuns run a soup kitchen in New York’s Bronx. Or, to put in straight, they have it run for them, since volunteer helpers organise everything, including food. The sisters might distribute it. Once, Shields remembers, the helpers made an organisational mistake, so they could not deliver bread with their meals. The sisters asked their superior if they could buy the bread. “Out of the question—we are a poor organisation.” came the reply. “In the end, the poor did not get their bread,” says Shields. Shields has experienced countless such incidents. One girl from communion class did not appear for her first communion because her mother could not buy her a white communion dress. So she had to wait another year; but as that particular Sunday approached, she had the same problem again. Shields (Sr Virgin) asked the superior if the order could buy the girl a white dress. Again, she was turned down—gruffly. The girl never had her first communion.

Because of the tightfistedness of the rich order, the “poorest of the poor”—orphans in India—suffer the most. The nuns run a home in Delhi, in which the orphans wait to be adopted by, in many cases, by foreigners. As usual, the costs of running the home are borne not by the order, but by the future adoptive parents. In Germany the organisation called Pro Infante has the monopoly of mediation role for these children. The head, Carla Wiedeking, a personal friend of Mother Teresa’s, wrote a letter to Donors, Supporters and Friends which ran:

Mother Teresa“On my September visit I had to witness 2 or 3 children lying in the same cot, in totally overcrowded rooms with not a square inch of playing space. The behavioural problems arising as a result cannot be overlooked.” Mrs Wiedeking appeals to the generosity of supporters in view of her powerlessness in the face of the children’s great needs. Powerlessness?! In an organisation with a billion-fortune, which has 3 times as much money available to it as UNICEF is able to spend in all of India? The Missionaries of Charity have the means to buy cots and build orphanages,—with playgrounds. And they have enough money not only for a handful orphans in Delhi but for many thousand orphans who struggle for survival in the streets of Delhi, Bombay and Calcutta.

Saving, in Mother Teresa’s philosophy, was a central value in itself. All very well, but as her poor organisation quickly grew into a rich one, what did she do with her pictures, jewels, inherited houses, cheques or suitcases full of money? If she wished to she could now cater to people not by obsessively indulging in saving, but instead through well thought-out spending. But the Nobel Prize winner did not want an efficient organisation that helped people efficiently. Full of pride, she called the Missionaries of Charity the “most disorganised organisation in the world”. Computers, typewriters, photocopiers are not allowed. Even when they are donated, they are not allowed to be installed. For book-keeping the sisters use school notebooks, in which they write in cramped pencilled figures. Until they are full. Then everything is erased and the notebook used again. All in order to save.

For a sustainable charitable system, it would have been sensible to train the nuns to become nurses, teachers or managers. But a Missionary of Charity nun is never trained for anything further.

Fuelled by her desire for un-professionalism, Mother Teresa decisions from year to year became even more bizarre. Once, says Susan Shields, the order bought am empty building from the City of New York in order to look after AIDS patients. Purchase price: 1 dollar. But since handicapped people would also be using the house, NY City management insisted on the installation of a lift (elevator). The offer of the lift was declined: to Mother they were a sign of wealth. Finally the nuns gave the building back to the City of New York.

While the Missionaries of Charity have already withheld help from the starving in Ethiopia or the orphans in India—despite having received donations in their names—there are others who are being actively harmed by the organisation’s ideology of disorganisation. In 1994, Robin Fox, editor of the prestigious medical journal The Lancet, in a commentary on the catastrophic conditions prevailing in Mother Teresa’s homes, shocked the professional world by saying that any systematic operation was foreign to the running of the homes in India: TB patients were not isolated, and syringes were washed in lukewarm water before being used again. Even patients in unbearable pain were refused strong painkillers, not because the order did not have them, but on principle. “The most beautiful gift for a person is that he can participate in the suffering of Christ,” said Mother Teresa. Once she had tried to comfort a screaming sufferer, “You are suffering, that means Jesus is kissing you.” The sufferer screamed back, furious, “Then tell your Jesus to stop kissing me.”

The English doctor Jack Preger once worked in the home for the dying. He says, “If one wants to give love, understanding and care, one uses sterile needles. This is probably the richest order in the world. Many of the dying there do not have to be dying in a strictly medical sense.” The British newspaper The Guardian described the hospice as an “organised form of neglectful assistance”.

It seems that the medical care of the orphans is hardly any better. In 1991 the head of Pro Infante in Germany sent a newsletter to adoptive parents:”Please check the validity of the vaccinations of your children. We assume that in some cases they have been vaccinated with expired vaccines, or with vaccines that had been rendered useless by improper storage conditions.” All this points to one thing, something that Mother Teresa reiterated very frequently in her speeches and addresses—that she far more concerned with life after death than the mortal life.

Mother Teresa’s business was: Money for a good conscience. The donors benefitted the most from this. The poor hardly. Whosoever believed that Mother Teresa wanted to change the world, eliminate suffering or fight poverty, simply wanted to believe it for their own sakes. Such people did not listen to her. To be poor, to suffer was a goal, almost an ambition or an achievement for her and she imposed this goal upon those under her wings; her actual ordained goal was the hereafter.

With growing fame, the founder of the order became somewhat conscious of the misconceptions on which the Mother Teresa phenomenon was based. She wrote a few words and hung them outside Mother House:

“Tell them we are not here for work, we are here for Jesus. We are religious above all else. We are not social workers, not teachers, not doctors. We are nuns.”

One question then remains: For what, in that case, do nuns need so much money? – The Freethinker, 22 December 2006

» Walter Wuellenweber is an investigative journalist for the German magazine Stern and a fellow at the Research Institute for the Study of Labor, Bonn. This article originally appeared in Stern.

See also

St Teresa: The hypocrisy of it all – Jayant Chowdhury

Pope Francis

Writer“The National Catholic Reporter says the crisis facing the Catholic Church is the “largest institutional crisis in centuries, possibly in Church history”. A 2009 Pew study said that since the 1960s, four American-born Catholics left the Church for every one who has converted. This decline in the number of western Catholics has been more than made up by new Catholic converts among the Hispanics, Africans and Asians. … Hence, the need to showcase miracle cures in Brazil and India in order to lure more and more people from these countries and regions into the Catholic fold.” – Jayant Chowdhury

Narendra ModiA little over a year ago, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was reported to have claimed at an event at a private hospital in Mumbai that cosmetic surgery and transplants was practiced in ancient India, and that stem cell technology and in-vitro fertilisation were also known to Indians thousands of years ago. His “preposterous” claims drew immediate ridicule from many, with good reason. The “left-liberal” brigade went hammer and tongs against Modi and the Hindutvavadis.

But the brigade’s supposed scientific, rational and logical credentials vanish quite quickly in some cases. Late last week [Dec 2015], the Vatican endorsed a miraculous cure in December 2008 of an unnamed man in Brazil who had a brain tumour and attributed it to the intercession of the “Blessed Teresa of Kolkata”. This has cleared the path for sainthood for Mother Teresa. Earlier, in September 1998, another such miraculous cure of a tribal woman in West Bengal’s South Dinajpur district led to the beatification of the Albanian nun.

Monica BesraAccording to the Catholic Church, the tribal woman, Monica Besra, was suffering from an ovarian tumour and medical intervention was fruitless. Sisters of the Missionaries of Charity then placed a medallion bearing Mother Teresa’s image on her abdomen and prayed for her recovery. Besra later said that she saw a ray of light emanating from the medallion and fell unconscious; when she awoke the next morning, the tumour was gone. Doctors who were treating her claimed she had an abdominal cyst caused by tuberculosis and medicines cured her of the cyst.

Fr Brian KolodiejchukThe Brazilian man’s miraculous cure, as claimed by the Vatican, is even more dramatic. He was suffering from a viral brain infection that resulted in multiple abscesses and by December 2008, he had gone into a coma due to accumulation of fluid around his brain and doctors were preparing for surgery to remove the fluid. Reverend Brian Kolodiejchuk, who was spearheading the cause for canonization of Mother Teresa and has been investigating and endorsing these ‘miracles’ attributed to Mother Teresa, told the media that 30 minutes before the Brazilian man was to be wheeled into the operation theatre, he regained consciousness, sat up and was without any pain! The Vatican attributed this cure to prayers for Mother Teresa’s intercession by the man’s wife who, at the time of his scheduled surgery, was at her parish church praying alongside her pastor.

The silence of the left-liberal brigade on these ridiculous claims by the Catholic Church is, to put it mildly, deafening. But then, the double standards of this section is well-known and well-documented. Criticising Hindus for their “blind beliefs” in rituals and rites is par for the course. But silence is their golden medium when it comes to other religions. It is perfectly fine for a Muslim to light candles at a dargah to seek the intercession of a particular pir, but try explaining to them the significance and rationale behind a Hindu ritual, and they’ll scoff at you and dismiss you as a regressive retard.

But a Monica Besra’s or a Brazilian man’s miraculous cures raises no eyebrows among “rationalists”. After all, there is no Hindu seer involved, but the Pope is a powerful western symbol of credibility.

Mother Teresa MedalThat aside, there are some important questions that need to be answered by the left-liberals and all those celebrating the imminent canonisation of Mother Teresa. One, would they recommend that medallions bearing Mother Teresa’s image be, from now on, placed on all patients across the world having abdominal tumors for instant cures or that the spouses of critical patients ought to pray to Mother Teresa for intercession for miracle cures? Can the Vatican guarantee cures? If Mother Teresa could cure Monica Besra or the Brazilian man, surely the millions of ill and ailing all over the world can be similarly cured. After all, saintly figures surely don’t discriminate and bless all equally. Now, at long last, there is hope for critically ill patients all over the world. When medicines fail, turn to the Mother! Hallelujah!

There is one more very important question that begs an answer. Why has the Vatican been so keen on beatifying and then canonising Mother Teresa? It must be remembered that as per conventions of the Catholic Church, a five-year waiting period is observed before the process of beatification of a prominent faithful is initiated. Mother Teresa died on 5 September 1997 and in early 1999, Pope John Paul II waived the five-year waiting period and allowed the immediate opening of the beatification cause. Mother Teresa was beatified on 19 October 2003, making hers the shortest beatification process in modern history. The canonisation process—investigating miracles attributed to Mother Teresa and choosing the most prominent and ‘authentic’ one—started immediately after that.

Why this rush to make Mother Teresa into a Saint? The answer: India is where the market for conversions is largest. It must be remembered that Monica Besra and her family converted to Christianity after her miracle cure. And her husband, Selku Murmu, confessed that after the conversion, they became richer than their neighbours—they were given money to buy a plot of land, renovate their hut, get their children admitted to schools and for clothes and provisions. Their improved lifestyle lured many other families in their tiny of village of Dhulinakod to convert to Christianity.

National Catholic ReporterAt a time when the Catholic Church’s appeal in the developed west is declining sharply, the Vatican has realised that it needs to increase its appeal among the people in the developing world—Latin America, Africa and Asia. This realisation has been spurred by statistics which show that Hispanics and Latin Americans make for a greater share of the Catholic population. The National Catholic Reporter says the crisis facing the Catholic Church is the “largest institutional crisis in centuries, possibly in Church history”. A 2009 Pew study said that since the 1960s, four American-born Catholics left the Church for every one who has converted. This decline in the number of western Catholics has been more than made up by new Catholic converts among the Hispanics, Africans and Asians. And this is where the Vatican now wants to concentrate. Hence, the need to showcase miracle cures in Brazil and India in order to lure more and more people from these countries and regions into the Catholic fold.

The Catholic Church will now highlight the miracle cures of Monica Besra and the Brazilian man to showcase to people across Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America the power of its saints. Imagine the powerful message of a Catholic ‘saint’ who possesses miraculous healing powers that the Catholic Church can send across to a poor, illiterate tribal in India. That message, backed by enticements like money and provisions and free education for kids, is what the Vatican knows will bring in more and more converts.

Mother Teresa, whose contributions and work are mired in controversies, will most likely be used by the Vatican to proselytise more and more people in the developing world. But India’s left-liberals are perfectly at ease with this; it’s only ‘ghar wapsis’ that get their goat. – Swarajya, 15 December 2015

» Jayant Chowdhury is an avid observer of and commentator on politics and society in Bengal and north-eastern  India.

Mohan Bhagwat

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