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Mother Teresa was canonized last year. It was a fun time for everybody, most of all for Kolkata, her greatest beneficiary. Despite hoards of misguided polemics from her critics, her image and her legacy prevail. But if you look close enough, you’ll see that some things about her were a wee bit sketchy.
1. Most of Her Money Mysteriously Vanished
Critics across the decades have pointed out that the Mother’s homes were appallingly maintained. But hey, all those guys were white intellectuals who didn’t even bother considering the usual state of Kolkata’s hospitals. There’s only so much money the Missionaries had to work with, right?
Wrong. We discovered in 1991 that the amount of money used for development of the homes by Mother Teresa paled in comparison to the funding she received.
2. She Didn’t Care Where the Money Came From
Among Mother Teresa’s top benefactors were professional criminals and corrupt politicians.
The most famous one was Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, unscrupulous Haitian dictator, oligarch, and embezzler. It seems curious that such a blatant human rights violator would donate for the betterment of the poor.
But hey, who cares? As long as the money helps the poor right? It’s not like the money would mysteriously van–Oh.
3. Not All Her ‘Dying’ Patients Were Dying
Mother Teresa’s hospice for the dying at Kalighat, Kolkata was and is a home for the terminally ill. The Mother wished to provide comfort and care to the poor who were destined to leave forever.
Wait, if she was such a proponent of comfort and care, why didn’t she anesthetize her patients? Oh, because the government prohibited use of morphine outside hospitals? Okay then. Wait, why not use codeine then? Or better yet, why not take her patients to the hospitals? Oh, because it was too expensive? No, that’s a lie. She totally had the money. The reason Mother Teresa didn’t anesthetize is because of her firm belief that suffering brought people closer to God. That’s why she reminded cancer patients that they’re “suffering like Christ on the cross. So Jesus must be kissing [them]“. This is the same reasoning that Himesh Reshammiya employs with a sick child in Aap Ka Suroor: “Pata hai beta, bhagwan ne tumhe aisa kyun banaye? Kyun ki woh aapse bahut pyaar karta hai” (Translation).
Twisted yet? Alright, alright, we guess suffering does breed strength. And her patients were dying anyway so why spend money on them?
Well, maybe because they weren’t dying. We don’t really know how many of her patients were terminally ill, because she wouldn’t let medical professionals check. Here’s a thought: Instead of spending evanescent funds on missionary recruitment or codeine, why not use it to pay medical bills?
4. She Was Staunchly Anti-Abortion
Mother Teresa was utterly, resolutely pro-life. What that means is she believed that abortion was unacceptable under any circumstances. So, instead of using the misnomer that is ‘pro-life’, let’s call it what it is. That is, anti-abortion.
Now, that’s nothing special for a Roman Catholic nun; it’s simply a person adhering to a tenet that she grew up with. But what does it mean to be anti-abortion for someone trying to fight poverty?
Does it mean convincing frail, malnourished women to keep their pregnancy even if it means risking their deaths? Does it mean burdening gulley rape victims with something they didn’t ask for? Does it mean imposing an extra mouth to feed on people who don’t even have the means to feed themselves?
Do any of these fight poverty? Or do they accelerate it?
Yet, she was stalwart in her conviction that “the greatest destroyer of peace today is the cry of the innocent, unborn child.”
Also, she was against contraceptives. Yup.
Mother Teresa was a questionable figure. Read up on her and you’ll realize that she was more complex than you probably give her credit for. Did this work in her favour? Oh yes, all too well. Did it work in favour of the people she claimed to help? This article implies that it probably didn’t. On the other hand, she did prevent slums from getting razed, picked people up from the streets and fed the ones who would have otherwise starved. Did she do it to deliver the people from poverty? Or did she do it to indulge in a romanticized notion of struggle? One in which you feed the poor but don’t heal them; in which you give them beds, but don’t give them life; in which you convince them that their struggle is a path to God. But hey, her Missionaries of Charity are still active today, and they seem to be doing a pretty good job (?). So, who knows?
About the author
A Neuropsychology and Computer Science major who currently seeks to advance neuroprosthetic and machine learning R&D. He also sporadically writes silly things, usually for blogs, online publications and his naively abstruse YouTube channel.
1) Neuroprosthetic R&D in India
2) Eliminating poverty in India
3) AI development