You should know that Mother Teresa was a shithead of the worst kind. I’d understand if you don’t want to read any further based on where this is going, but my guess is that you know very little about this woman. My guess is that you are one of the millions of people who have been shamelessly duped into believing that this woman is a saint and a paradigm of godliness. She is far from it. Keep reading.
Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, India. There she took care of the suffering, sick, poor, and dying. She won international acclaim and awards for her work as well as received millions of dollars in donations to continue her work with the poor. With that money, Mother Teresa opened up Missionaries of Charities operations all over the world in 133 countries.
This all sounds wonderfully holy so far. She vowed poverty for herself, she cared for the poor and suffering, and she used the donated money to help more of the poor and suffering. If there were such a thing as altruism, this would do it. Alas, it is time for the shackles to fall off one’s eyes.
Mother Teresa’s goal was to generate as much suffering as possible both intentionally and unintentionally. First, the intentional part. If you found yourself in her mission, you would find the living conditions horrible. You would be given scant shavings of food, cold baths, inadequate medical care (reused needles and a lack of good medical diagnoses), and you couldn’t even leave your bed. The living conditions there were poorer than the poverty stricken regions in Calcutta. This was intentional. Why intentional? Mother Teresa was the firmest believer in suffering, for it is through suffering that one gets closer to God and it is in suffering that one does the work of God. She says, “Without suffering, our work would just be social work, very good and helpful, but it would not be the work of Jesus Christ, not part of the Redemption.” Reread that quote if you don’t get the full impact of what she said. It means that if she actually helped the poor and suffering find peace and become healed, it would mean that her work is not God’s work. She kept the suffering suffering so that God’s work would remain. Countless people died at her mission, as well at the other missions she founded, because she valued suffering as divine. She could have used some of the millions of dollars in donations to improve the poor living conditions at her missions and update their medical practices, but that was not a priority to her. You will see, shortly, what her priority was.
Second, her unintentional commitment to generate undue suffering comes with her ardent assertions against any means of birth control. She found birth control an abomination to God and a slippery slope to murder of all kinds. This is a common Catholic teaching, but this was a persistent, vocal platform of hers, especially regarding the use of birth control with the poor. Unfortunately, if one wanted to help end poverty in many third-world regions, the main avenue is to implement birth control. The overwhelming consensus of sociologists and economists agree that overpopulation is the leading cause of poverty. Overpopulation + few resources = disaster. Thus, if women were given the means for birth control, and the population growth in poverty-stricken areas began to decrease, poverty would decrease. Mother Teresa unintentionally fought stridently against such a solution (though I’m not sold that it was really unintentional, but we’ll call it that for now). She helped keep the poor poor.
What did happen to the millions of dollars in donations if they didn’t go to actually helping the poor and suffering gain a better quality of life? They went to opening up hundreds of Missionaries of Charity that function more as convents to proselytize rather than as organizations dedicated to helping the poor. The money given by people in hopes of helping those in need was redirected into evangelical efforts. Mother Teresa gave false promises in order to promote her fundamentalism. She promoted her fundamentalism to the neglect of those suffering under her own care.
There is more, but this is a good taste. Most of what I have given here are the facts. You cannot argue with the facts. What you can argue with is my judgment, that Mother Teresa was a shithead for her treatment of the suffering and her dishonest advancement of her own faith. But I hardly find how anyone in good conscience could disagree with my assessment.
written in honor of the late Christopher Hitchens