and ended up busting the decades old myth about Nobel Laureate Mother Teresa.
A thorough research by Canadian academics (Serge Larivee and Genevieve Chenard from the University of Montreal`s department of psychoeducation, and Carole Senechal of the University of Ottawa`s faculty of education ) says Mother Teresa was a product of well articulated hype.
They've published their research and findings about the life of Teresa after scrutinising her rather dubious way of 'caring for the sick', her questionable political contacts, her suspicious management of the enormous sums of money she received, and her overly dogmatic views regarding ... abortion, contraception, and divorce.
So how was the Mother Teresa myth manufactured from missionary Agnes Gonxha? Let's look at the major contributors.
• Mass Media
It started with her meeting in London in 1968 with the BBC's Malcom Muggeridge, an anti-abortion journalist. In 1969, his eulogistic film about the missionary was what catapulted her to superstardom. Research reveals Teresa housed the poor and sick in shoddy conditions, despite her access to a massive fortune. The powerful western media at the time told the world that Indians, particularly the Hindus, don't care for their helpless people and hence a foreign Christian saint has to perform that job. Media sold the poverty of India to the first world and capitalised on the stereotypes, further reinforcing them.
The rich 'first world' has a guilty conscience due to their dark imperialist past as well as their affluent wasteful indulgences in the present. Donating to church missions in third world countries is their pass to alleviating that guilty conscience. And what better candidate than a 'saintly' woman who seemed like an activist for "the sick, the dying and 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 cunning media never bothered to ask any follow-up questions. Many volunteers who went to Calcutta came back abruptly - disillusioned by the bigotry and 'poverty-loving' practices of the "Missionaries of Charity," but thanks to the media apathy, they had no audience for their story.
Days of Imperialism were the golden days for church. The explorers would find a territory, what followed were traders, the armies and with them - the church. Land, power, wealth and souls for the God - everyone was happy. However, with the demise of Imperialism, Church had to devise new means to convert Asians and Africans into Christianity. The Vatican saw 'Saint Teresa' as a perfect PR ploy to revitalise the Church and inspire the faithful especially at a time when churches are empty and the Roman authority was on a steep decline. Pain and suffering, according to her, was a a ticket to St. Peters. Missionary Teresa saw beauty in the suffering of downtrodden and was far more willing to pray for them than provide practical medical care. Perhaps she had no idea what effect her religious bigotry had on the poor and sick people under her care.
In her own words, ''..There is something beautiful in seeing the poor accept their lot, to suffer it like Christ's passion. The world gains much from their suffering,''
The western missionaries would convert the native population and converted population in turn would serve the church worldwide. Truth is, but for imported Indian priests and nuns many European churches would have to close doors because Europeans seminaries are unable to fill their vacancies with Europeans.
According to the researchers, Teresa raised almost $100 million before 1980. A good chunk was used for building houses for the missionaries. Just 5 per cent went to the cause. Let's hear that again - just 5 per cent of that went to the poor.
Teresa has been known to be stingy even during national emergencies. During numerous floods in India she offered numerous prayers and medallions of the Virgin Mary but no direct or monetary aid. Saint Teresa was a wealthy proposition for the church by all means. Which brings us to the money part of it..
No public accounts are made available for Teresa's Missionaries of Charity, but enormous sums are known to have been raised. Million of dollars are pouring into India every day from unknown foreign sources, in white and much more in black, to convert and subvert India. Today, around the world Teresa's charities have attained untouchable status, which helps them fend off any attempts by the authorities to stop their morbid religious experiments on sick and poor people.
Millions of dollars were transferred to the MCO’s various bank accounts, but most of the accounts were kept secret, says researcher Larivee. There is also the question of the missing millions. ''Given the parsimonious management of (Teresa's) works, one may ask where the millions of dollars for the poorest of the poor have gone?'.
There are several testimonies from the leading American and British physicians about the extremely low standard of medicine practised in her small Calcutta clinics. There were no pain killers and the syringes were washed in cold water. She refused to give medicines to the inmates under her care, in the process allowing them to die painful deaths. Clearly there wasn't much of a medical care or cure despite her charity sitting atop hundreds of millions.
Besides these, on one hand she preached humanity, on the other hand, she had no qualms about accepting the Legion of Honour and a grant from the Duvalier dictatorship in Haiti.
She went to Albania in 1990, at that time the most oppressive of the Balkan Stalinist states, and laid a wreath on the grave of the dictator, Enver Hoxha, while remaining silent on human rights violations.
In 1992, Mother Teresa gave many lucrative endorsements, including a character reference to the court for Charles Keating, the biggest fraud and embezzler in the American history
who stole a total $252 million from mainly small and poor depositors. Hitchens claims that Keating gave $1.25 million in cash to Mother Teresa and allowed her to use his private jet. The court had asked her to return the donation given by Keating but she never replied to the request.
She befriended the rich and powerful and was a defender of Western big business. Though she proclaimed her devotion to the poor and downtrodden, she urged the Indians to forgive Union Carbide for the gas leak in Bhopal which had killed more than 2000 people.
As late as 1995 (less than 2 years before her death) Teresa sat on a fast demanding reservation for Dalit Christians. When she was criticized for this, she took a somersault befitting any politician by saying that she was unaware of the demands of the fast organizers. Having already lost face, she further lost credibility when the organizers refused to be her scapegoat and contested her claim, and said that she had been informed well in advance that the fast was for demanding reservation for Dalit Christians. When anti conversion laws were brought up by Morarji Government, she was the first one to oppose it. She was against anti-conversion law and She always opposed family planning. She supported Indira Gandhi's Emergency.
✞ Mother Teresa’s popularity was such that she had become untouchable for the population, which had already declared her a saint. It would be pertinent to mention here that she was a hypocrite who kept the sick in pain and in shoddy conditions while each time she herself fell sick she sought the finest medical care. Despite the fact that medical tourists from the West travel to India for treatment, Teresa reckoned India wasn't good enough for her. She was admitted to California's Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation.
She herself, on many occasions, has confessed that she is doing it all for Christianity, which is what Mr. Bhagwat reiterated in his speech causing outrage among those who don't know any better. In Navin Chawla's book, who was an old Congress loyalist, on Mother Teresa,she says in her interview, "..a lot of people confuse me as social worker, I am not a social worker. I am in the service of Jesus and my job is to spread the word of Christianity and bring people to its fold'"
She was just a manufactured miracle. The story of her beatification is a fine example of miracle stories surrounding her. Following her death, the Vatican decided to waive the usual five-year waiting period to open the beatification process. The miracle attributed to Mother Theresa was the healing of a woman, Monica Besra, who had been suffering from intense abdominal pain. The woman testified that she was cured after a medallion blessed by Mother Teresa was placed on her abdomen. Her doctors thought otherwise: the ovarian cyst and the tuberculosis from which she suffered were healed by the drugs they had given her, she never had cancerous cells as advertised by the Church. The Vatican, nevertheless, concluded that it was a miracle.
One must praise and respect any person involved in selfless humanitarian work irrespective of his or her religious belief. But as soon as that work is done with ulterior motive, it no longer remains a saintly deed. It's then no different from any business. She is as much a saint as a shopkeeper who gives you food in return for your money. Only, the source of money in this case was hundreds of millions in foreign funding as she portrayed India as a poor, starving, and a diseased land to her Western donors who responded by filling her coffers so that she could further the cause of the church.