The Catholic Church has attributed a second dodgy miracle to mother Teresa, which thus qualifies her for canonisation (the process by which someone becomes a Saint) Clearly, they’re making up miracles so they can canonise the would-be Saint as fast as possible. Indeed, they wavered the usual rule to wait 5 years after the chosen person had died before starting the process for Mother Teresa – such is her reputation. However, there are many practical and moral reasons why I think they should refrain from inducting her into the Communion of Saints.
Let’s begin with the Missionary’s first perceived miracle. On September 5th 1998, two nuns from her organisation ‘Charity’ placed a medallion bearing a picture of Mother Teresa onto Monica Besra’s stomach. Monica Besra had severe stomach pain as a result of her tumour. However, after the medallion was placed on her stomach, the tumour disappeared. This was hailed as a ‘miraculous’ recovery, and attributed to Mother Teresa. The only thing is that Mother Teresa had been dead for a year before this. So, it was a posthumous healing – how convenient. Why the spirit of Mother Teresa needs the medallion to help people seems to be a strange constraint on her divine power. Also, what makes the Church so sure that it was Mother Teresa who was behind this ‘miracle’ and not God Himself? Or Jesus? Or an actual Saint? Just because the medallion wore her likeness, it doesn’t mean she was behind the divine intervention.
Regardless, these Theological questions would only need answering if Monica Besra’s healing was miraculous. Which it wasn’t. According to doctors involved in the case, the disappearance of the tumour was due to a combination of her pills, and the fact that the tumour was not fully grown. Dr Ranjan Kumar Mustafi said “She had a medium-sized tumour in her lower abdomen caused by tuberculosis. The drugs she was given eventually reduced the cystic mass and it disappeared after a year’s treatment.” He went on to say “This miracle claim is absolute nonsense and should be condemned by everyone”.
The second miracle, approved only a few weeks ago by the Catholic Church, is said to have happened in 2008. It involved the healing of a Brazilian man with several brain tumours. Why can’t any of these miracles involve growing back a limb? Or involve something that could only be explained through a miracle? The details remain sketchy so far (the Church seems reluctant to disclose too much information) but I’d bet money that this man was receiving proper, scientific medical treatment on top of the miracle-inducing prayers.
Even Catholics find this far-fetched. Indeed, I had a Twitter conversation with one (I say conversation, it was just him insulting me) who claimed that she dedicated her life to help the poor – and that was enough for him. This seems like a cop out answer to me. Anyway, there is good evidence to suggest that this gentleman is wrong, and that she didn’t do as much good as everyone seems to think. See the 1994 production by Christopher Hitchens, named “Hell’s Angel” below.
When Mother Teresa died, she had opened over 517 homes for the poor and sick. Christopher Hitchens hit the nail on the head when he asked why she focused on opening so many missions, rather than simply focusing on making those initial institutions world class hospitals. God knows she had enough money to do so. However, for whatever reason, she did not do this. Thus, doctors visiting her establishments have claimed they lacked hygiene, had sub-standard care, and unfit living conditions. In fact, these doctors believed these establishments to be “homes for the dying”, rather than missions, or hospitals. This is all the more tragic considering two thirds of the people arriving at the missions expected to be treated by a doctor. Yet, when Mother Teresa needed end of life care, she received it in a modern, American Hospital. Why not stay in her own missions if they were so marvellous?
Hitchens was particularly critical of Teresa’s dealings with the dictators of Haiti. She accepted a large amount of money from the Duvaliers, as well as a legion of honour. Indeed, she was never shy in accepting donations on behalf of the Church (even if they were from dictators), and had several private bank accounts that she kept secret. Yet with the numerous humanitarian disasters that India suffered during her time there, she was only ever generous with her prayers, rather than monetary donations.
These question marks, along with her toxic anti-contraception ramblings to AIDS riddled countries haven’t been enough to prevent her divine ascension to Sainthood. She isn’t the only questionable person that the Catholic Church has rewarded for their dodgy dealings.
Queen Isabella of Spain was being lined up 20/25 years ago, before Jewish and Muslim protests halted the canonization process for good reason. This woman’s treatment of Jews and Muslims in Spain during the 15th Century was disgraceful. She expelled the Jews through edict and the Muslims through violence and war. Apparently, the Catholic Church doesn’t mind – she treated the Catholics well, after all. There are some who still believe she should be canonised to this day – as this horrendous article, painting her as a defender of the faith, illustrates.
Fr Junipero Serra was fully canonized however. And only very recently. This despicable man was a masochist. He encouraged self-flagellation, so that he could suffer as Christ did. His real crime however, was his role in the Spanish Inquisition. His attempts to integrate American Indians into Californian missions resulted in the spread of syphilis, beatings, imprisonment and misery. Indians were forced into these missions, and were severely punished if they attempted to escape. In many cases, they were essentially used as slaves, and were forced into labour. Women who were caught trying to abort babies conceived through rape had their heads shaved, were beaten, and were forced to stand at the church altar every Sunday carrying a wooden child. This wasn’t enough to prevent Serra’s Sainthood however. Pope Francis seemed to value his contribution to the propagation of the Catholic faith in America more than he disapproved of his cruelties. A common theme seen throughout Catholic history.
There are some more well known instances that the reader might have heard of, but I needn’t go into detail. Mother Teresa’s divine ascension is the latest episode in a long tradition of the Catholic Church to reward people of dubious intentions for their pious reverence.
N.B. All claims I make about the Mother Teresa and her Missions can be found in a study undertaken by Serge Larivée and Genevieve Chenard of University of Montreal’s Department of Psychoeducation, and Carole Sénéchal of the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Education.