Mother Teresa: Anything but a saint…

The myth of altruism and generosity surrounding Mother Teresa is dispelled in a paper 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.

The paper will be published in the March issue of the journal Studies in Religion/Sciences religieuses and is an analysis of the published writings about Mother Teresa. Like the journalist and author Christopher Hitchens, who is amply quoted in their analysis, the researchers conclude that her hallowed image—which does not stand up to analysis of the facts—was constructed, and that her beatification was orchestrated by an effective media relations campaign.

“While looking for documentation on the phenomenon of altruism for a seminar on ethics, one of us stumbled upon the life and work of one of Catholic Church’s most celebrated woman and now part of our collective imagination—Mother Teresa—whose real name was Agnes Gonxha,” says Professor Larivée, who led the research. “The description was so ecstatic that it piqued our curiosity and pushed us to research further.”

Mother Teresa: Anything but a saint…As a result, the three researchers collected 502 documents on the life and work of Mother Teresa. After eliminating 195 duplicates, they consulted 287 documents to conduct their analysis, representing 96% of the literature on the founder of the Order of the Missionaries of Charity (OMC). Facts debunk the myth of Mother Teresa

In their article, Serge Larivée and his colleagues also cite a number of problems not take into account by the Vatican in Mother Teresa’s beatification process, such as “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, in particular, abortion, contraception, and divorce.”

‘The sick must suffer like Christ on the cross’

At the time of her death, Mother Teresa had opened 517 missions welcoming the poor and sick in more than 100 countries. The missions have been described as “homes for the dying” by doctors visiting several of these establishments in Calcutta. Two-thirds of the people coming to these missions hoped to a find a doctor to treat them, while the other third lay dying without receiving appropriate care. The doctors observed a significant lack of hygiene, even unfit conditions, as well as a shortage of actual care, inadequate food, and no painkillers. The problem is not a lack of money—the Foundation created by Mother Teresa has raised hundreds of millions of dollars—but rather a particular conception of suffering and death: “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,” was her reply to criticism, cites the journalist Christopher Hitchens. Nevertheless, when Mother Teresa required palliative care, she received it in a modern American hospital.

Mother Teresa’s questionable politics and shadowy accounting

Mother Teresa was generous with her prayers but rather miserly with her foundation’s millions when it came to humanity’s suffering. During numerous floods in India or following the explosion of a pesticide plant in Bhopal, she offered numerous prayers and medallions of the Virgin Mary but no direct or monetary aid. On the other hand, she had no qualms about accepting the Legion of Honour and a grant from the Duvalier dictatorship in Haiti. Millions of dollars were transferred to the MCO’s various bank accounts, but most of the accounts were kept secret, Larivée says. “Given the parsimonious management of Mother Theresa’s works, one may ask where the millions of dollars for the poorest of the poor have gone?”

The grand media plan for Mother Teresa’s holiness

Despite these disturbing facts, how did Mother Teresa succeed in building an image of holiness and infinite goodness? According to the three researchers, her meeting in London in 1968 with the BBC’s Malcom Muggeridge, an anti-abortion journalist who shared her right-wing Catholic values, was crucial. Muggeridge decided to promote Teresa, who consequently discovered the power of mass media. In 1969, he made a eulogistic film of the missionary, promoting her by attributing to her the “first photographic miracle,” when it should have been attributed to the new film stock being marketed by Kodak. Afterwards, Mother Teresa travelled throughout the world and received numerous awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize. In her acceptance speech, on the subject of Bosnian women who were raped by Serbs and now sought abortion, she said: “I feel the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a direct war, a direct killing—direct murder by the mother herself.”

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 Theresa 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. The Vatican, nevertheless, concluded that it was a miracle. Mother Teresa’s popularity was such that she had become untouchable for the population, which had already declared her a saint. “What could be better than beatification followed by canonization of this model to revitalize the Church and inspire the faithful especially at a time when churches are empty and the Roman authority is in decline?” Larivée and his colleagues ask.

Positive effect of the Mother Teresa myth

Despite Mother Teresa’s dubious way of caring for the sick by glorifying their suffering instead of relieving it, Serge Larivée and his colleagues point out the positive effect of the Mother Teresa myth: “If the extraordinary image of Mother Teresa conveyed in the collective imagination has encouraged humanitarian initiatives that are genuinely engaged with those crushed by poverty, we can only rejoice. It is likely that she has inspired many humanitarian workers whose actions have truly relieved the suffering of the destitute and addressed the causes of poverty and isolation without being extolled by the media. Nevertheless, the media coverage of Mother Theresa could have been a little more rigorous.”

About the study

The study was conducted by Serge Larivée, Department of psychoeducation, University of Montreal, Carole Sénéchal, Faculty of Education, University of Ottawa, and Geneviève Chénard, Department of psychoeducation, University of Montreal.

The printed version, available only in French, will be published in March 2013 in issue 42 of Studies in Religion / Sciences religieuses.

The material in this press release comes from the originating research organization. Content may be edited for style and length. Have a question? Let us know.


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99 thoughts on “Mother Teresa: Anything but a saint…”

  1. Mother Teresa was the biggest example of somebody who does “good” not good. The problem is how the Church enables her message and makes her a saint. Pope Francis and his cronies are passive aggressive in how they ignore the truth and even use dodgy miracles to promote her. The Church consciously fooled people with the Monica besra miracle. A religion needs to be condemned more for the evil it opens the door to than what it does or has done.
    A comment says, “If dealing with the suffering brings one closer to God or spurs one on to relieve the suffering of others, that is a good thing.” You don’t need to believe in God to use your suffering to motivate you to reach out and help other sufferers. In fact seeing suffering as random and a fact of life should make you hate it more than one who thinks its part of God’s alleged plot to bring good out of it. To say you do need to believe is just insulting. And how could suffering be good if it makes you close to a God who makes you suffer? Believers in God in some way do wallow in suffering and water down how terrible i t is for others. They cannot admit that a God who hurts people or WORSE who lets them be hurt (letting hurt happen is worse than hurting for at least when you hurt you know how much hurt you expect to happen) is unworthy of worship.
    I have realised from a comment above that she had no right to take that Nobel Prize. She was not a true humanitarian. She could not even be trusted with money for she put faith before people and used suffering to invite people to her understanding of faith. Inviting people to a vague sense of faith is one thing but a specific faith is a different matter.

    Funny how any criticism of her leads to religious people of accusing critics of not doing good like she did! They do not judge Mother but they are anxious to judge her critics who they know nothing about. The fact remains that many critics and scientists may not do good in a pious way but they do good in other ways and may be better than Mother ever was.

  2. There should be an objective study of account of the funds and the usage thereof to get to the truth. denigrating someone or beatification without knowing the full facts is not correct

  3. Since we know that capitalism and imperialism are respoonsible for creating the highest levels and deepest depths of poverty known to human and Spirit-kind, we should likewise expect Mother Theresa, the vatican and the roamin catholic church to be staunchly anti-capitalist so as not to support the sustenance and growth of poverty and oppression. We do not see this from them. They are part of the industry of poverty and oppression and parade as the standard bearers of “compassion” and “love”. Let us see what the paper/study has to say. Be willing to have truth and real love revealed as a matter of spiritual course if we continue to find out that the story of Theresa is one of a retrograde reactionism that the populace got manipulated with. Remember that the true heroine/hero is the one that destroys the oppressive system, not the one that trains us to live and die, however quietly, dignifiedly or painfully, with it.

  4. @Alan

    I’d take a Hitchens for the truth, over any of the “saints”…

    Truth will allow you to see the lies that keep the “saints” in power over men.

  5. Excellent article, except “Positive effect …”. Somebody mentioned and compared with “bronze age”. But that’s wrong, in bronze age people were pagans and monotheistic. Monotheistic religions are monopolies and this case is clearly is showing us manipulation and “group think” of Holy See over its followers.
    The authors of this report are not mentioning that she had LearJet at disposal and other luxury amenities which are usually associated with the kings.
    She is obviously willingly involved in Vatican and capitalist cause.

  6. Wow.. the author comments about right-wing catholic views. So much for being an unbiased or factual research paper.

    If the author wrote this with with a personal view opposed to catholic view then his/her conclusion is inevitable.

    I’m all for a factual review of mother teresa’s life.. but there is a big difference between opinions and facts.

  7. Thank the gods that the truth about this woman is slowly coming out. Other reports cite her refusal to provide pain medication to the dying in case they wanted to convert. How many “converted” in order to get pain medication? And she certainly made sure that she didn’t receive care where the poor did. Double standard.

    Mother Teresa may have deceived herself, but anyone who goes into ecstasy over poor people dying in pain- while millions of dollars of donations go unaccounted for- is either very, very disturbed or very, very evil.

    Possibly those unaccounted millions explain why JPII was so willing to toss aside the usual process in beatification. The delay in beatification is designed to prevent personal popularity from influencing the process: it was completely tossed out for Mother Teresa.

  8. Charity should be done quietly, for no-one other than the giver and receiver. To even enter a pissing contest about “what have you done?” only defeats the purpose.

    There are those that do – there are those that don’t. Saying either way is a moot point.

    I’m an atheist, but the “Do unto others” thing is a cornerstone of my life – as is “what goes around, come around”.

    Spread fake poisonous pseudo-religious crap – eat it at length later…

  9. Forget Mother Theresa being a saint and the (your claimed) so called money she has made. My only question to you is what have or could you do for the poor, the old, the illed….
    Professor Larivée, other than giving a couple of coins from your wallet….

    Whether she be a saint or the richest person on earth, she had the heart to do what you ignored…. that’s what counts….

  10. She’s the prime example of what happens when you adhere to bronze age peasant mentalities.

    “She was not a friend of the poor she was a friend of poverty.”
    Christopher Hitchens.

  11. Wow. A poor article laden with factless suspicion. Must have been a slow news day. Now write an article telling us how good Hitler was with animals.

  12. Christianity is a complicated subject because of its POLITICAL nature. It is not a religion , it is a political setup. Please read the book “Christianity: The Deadliest Poison and Zen: The Antidote to All Poisons” by Osho…. You will understand why a real modern saint OSHO was poisoned and killed by Church backed terrorists and why a pseudo-social worker has been called a “SAINT” by Church backed media-mafia….. Please remember Mother Terasa is the NOT the only “poster” saint created by Church backed Media Mafia to market Christianity…. The other one is “Santa Claus” who was created for marketing campaign of COCA-COLA… and now taken up as Christian Saint cunningly by vatican backed media mafia…

  13. I was outraged the first time I read one of Hitchens’ articles/interviews that was published in the Sunday Magazine, where he called her Mother Teresa “a fanatic and a fraud, and a friend of poverty and not the poor” (in fact, that was the first time I had heard of someone called Christopher Hitchens). But years later when I read “The Missionary Position” and later when I watched his documentary “Hell’s Angel,” it wasn’t very hard to understand what he said or why he said it. What Mihir Bose says in “Hell’s Angel,” best explains why Indians tend to generally frown and fume when someone points a finger at or even looks askance at her, her actions, or the order she founded. He said, “Mother Teresa is a Nobel Prize winner, she is a symbol… people in the west talk about her. So, Indians adopt her at that level. The fact of what she does on the streets of Calcutta is really irrelevant to them… they couldn’t care about it and most of them don’t even know, but Mother Teresa is the sort of figure you show to visitors.”

  14. I think what a lot of those who have commented before me who are asking where the research and science is missed in this article are the very important first 2 paragraphs that clearly state that the scholarly research paper will be published in March.
    This is an article ABOUT the research paper, which is summarizing the findings.
    If you are one of those who are asking where the research and evidence is, please take the time to read the actual research paper, authored by scientists, when it is published and you will find it. Scholarly papers must cite all of their sources. They don’t get published otherwise.

  15. What’s new here? the Catholic Church has a shameful history of lies, deceit and cover-ups. It’s been responsible for making lives miserable for centuries. A dysfunctional organisation run by elderly men. Just look at what’s happening in the vatican at the moment, old men dressed up in medieval garb deciding who’ll be next to head the organisation which dishes out crap on the poor and tries to get inside the heads of children for future followers. Of course its followers are going to refute anything that doesn’t look good for it. I hope they’re also speaking out against the moving around of pedophiles within the organisation, so that the status quo isn’t harmed. Shameful, all of it. Sell off the riches and get rid of the hangers on and give the money to the needy, that might appease God.

  16. i don’t see some scientific proofs which are balanced enough so we can conclude something about her character.
    but let’s say this article shows the only side of MT had in her life.

    so many ‘sins’ and frauds she has made during her mission.
    ‘imperfection’ in her actions.

    so what do you think about her presence?
    is the world gonna be a better place if she didnt start her mission?

    i do think still, that she was a great woman. greater than me, and than many people.

  17. Wow. Hating on Mother Theresa.

    John 15:18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.” -Jesus

    • “I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me”. Hunter S. Thompson

      And it is fact that HST existed, AND that he really said this.

      Your quote is made up, the person quoted probably did not really exist, and his “words” were written by men, trying to subjugate other men.

      Your book is a book – full of lies and misdirection (unless you really do want to die for wearing 2 different fabrics, working on Sunday, or allowing a woman to preach).

      Letting sick and dying suffer so they could be christ-like is sadistic, immoral and illegal. Treat a dog like that, and people would kick your ass. Do it in gods name, some make you a saint.

  18. “her suspicious management of the enormous sums of money she received” – she must have spent it on her wardrobe. She was Catholic, mystery solved about her dogmatic views. Even if we don’t agree with them, everyone has a right to their own views. What she has done is more than any of those scientists debunking her will ever do in their lifetime. Taking one of her quotes about the suffering of the poor out of context in a blog post is really just intellectual minds needing to come to conclusions and biases they already had. Where are the other quotes like the man that watched her pick up lepers and said “I wouldn’t do that for a million dollars” and she replied “either would I, but I would do it for God”. How many lepers have these intellectuals picked up? I know someone that volunteered at her mission in Calcutta for two months, a Westerner, he is no fool and if the conditions and the treatment they describe here was the norm it is very very unlikely he would do that every year. You can take ANY facts and arrange them in any way you want to create any story you want. It seems to me that science tackling subjects like compassion and altruism is like a dog writing a thesis on what it is to be human.
    It aint so easily done. For them to judge her for not sending money to flood victims and Bopal victims, there are floods in India every monsoon there are tragedies in India at all points. Where does one begin and where does one end? She appears to have chosen to spend her money on her own missions. She traveled the world, she was on a TV show being interviewed and during the break there were commercials for diet aids. Just juxtaposing her with the modern world and our insanity is worth the travel. How do you know that the people that interviewed her didn’t pay her accommodations? So easy it is to judge from a Western point of view a country and a system that one has not experienced nor visited. Go back to those days in India not the booming economy it is today. She’s a nun and she’s a Catholic. Her views on abortion for the raped women is shaped by a life you cannot fathom having not been raised and indoctrinated a Catholic nun and not understanding her deep faith in the teachings of the Catholic church. Just because we may all disagree with that teaching cannot we understand that someone has a right to feel that strongly about the life of a fetus that it should not be aborted. It seems a reflection of why she picks up lepers. At least she put her principals into practice helping all stages of life unlike the hierarchy at the Vatican in gilded rooms. Judge not lest you be judged. Where are the other quotes…that have left her a place in history. Should we just ignore the beauty and magnitude of the expression of Love that she spoke? It’s there but why look for it when you have evidence that supports another thesis. Balance never was the order of the day in most media let alone “science” blog.

  19. Here is another example of poor and incomplete analysis masquerading as scientific research.
    Many of the conclusions drawn are not based on substantive proof. For ex, did the authors try to find out how the the moneys from the charity are distributed and to whom? The question is left unanswered and only speculation is offered about the management of the funds.
    To correct the authors, there is no such thing as right-wing Catholic values. The Catholic church takes a firm and unequivocal stand on abortion, contraception, and divorce, regardless of the actual practices of its adherents. Mother Theresa just happens to be a faithful proponent of Catholic values, and what’s so terribly wrong with that?
    The way I understood her concept that the poor must endure their lot just like Christ did was that is was ok to be poor. I dont believe that she honestly meant to see them suffer as the authors suggest. After all, her work was to care for the needy.
    Finally, a saint is an ordinary person who performs extraordinary works of love and charity. In that regard, the church saw fit to proclaim her a saint and so do I.
    For all her faults and foibles, I believe she left behind a legacy (you can call it whatever you want, including myth) of hope and inspiration for all of us who strive to lift the human condition.

  20. I know a lot of people see a psychological need to defend the woman, even going so far as to attack anyone who questions her, but MT was not a saint. She was a fanatic who wasted some fantastic potential in service to her biases:

    Her failures were not ‘isolated incidents.’ They were at the core of her actions everywhere.

  21. I’m not Catholic and I don’t believe in all that Saints stuff. But why do these men feel the need to dig into Mother Theresa’s life and tear her to shreds? So what if she didn’t do everything believed, she did a tremendous amount of good. She devoted her life to helping the poor and sick. These men devote their lives to tearing down lives. Why didn’t they do this when she was alive to defend herself? I think they are mean and cowardly.

  22. Bueno,lo que tenemos es un cristopher Hitchens —ya murió–en su ideologías ateoides ¿Podría hablar bien de una misionera de la caridad?

  23. these are isolated incidents, she still did a lot of good. shes human and probably has a **** personality. She wanted something to show for her work. who knows I would say the overall good she did covers her saying and doing some dumb things

  24. I have seen the videos depicting the conditions of her missions, as miserable a place as i’ve ever seen and I’ve been in African hospitals in areas that were destitute. This quote says much about her, and it disgusts me.

    “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,”

  25. I don’t see the science in this assertion that Theresa leveraged religion to rationalize suffering while collecting millions. I agree with Hitchens that religion poisons everything, and it certainly appears that the Catholic church seems to have no problem amassing huge wealth while huge numbers of its followers live in poverty. However, this paper hardly appears to be “research” based upon anything resembling the scientific method. Is the posting of this kind of article supposed to be some kind of reinforcement that science and religion are incompatible?

  26. Although I strongly disagree with many of Mother Theresa’s belief’s, I do believe she drew much needed attention to issues such as child marriage and lack of social infastructure so apparent in places like India. I do not believe this article presented enough information to support it’s claims of embezelment, although I have no doubt it is possible that monies from her missions ended up funding other branches of the church.In the end people need to evaluate for themselves if they believe she did more good than harm ir visa versa. She actively faught population control measures such as contraception, and yet she convinced many to not marry at age 13, 14 and to wait until they were legitimate adults, thus preventing many teen pregnancies. No she did not provide pain relief to the sick, however she did provide a roof over their heads……in a country were there is no infastructure except the churches of various religous affiliations. In my opinion there are positive and negitive repreprecutions every time you mix religion and charity.

  27. WIshing it were true doesnt make it so. This may sound like I am taking aim at Catholics, but really I am addressing the folks who pulled together this polemic assaulting Mother Theresa.

    The evidence presented is thin at best and says much more about the authors’ inabity to understand a value system that is not their own. I don’t revere Mother Theresa, but I am broadminded enough to grasp what she was doing, or trying to do.

    Sadly, the intellectual verve of the report’s authors (and that of the author of this blog post) is missing in action.

  28. What is this crap, Fox news ? She established 517 missions throughout the world yet we we find her accounting practices ‘questionable’ ? ‘Doctors’ found that people were dying unnecessary in those missions, yet did not offer their own assistance or separate care ? She was a catholic against abortions ?

    This article is 100% sensationalist bullshit, I can only hope the study itself is more balanced and does not jump to colosal accusations without colosal evidence.

  29. Seems that no one is arguing with the quotes that were quoted here. Seems that the facts [no painkillers, nasty conditions] correleate with her views of the world [likes to see other people suffering]. No one seems to be arguing the facts, just the conclusions. Based on these facts, I conclude that Mother Teresa was a sadist.

  30. One cannot help but compare this to the maxim from The Prince: the end justifies the means.
    So it comes down to your belief that your method will (eventually) produce a better outcome than the method that was out-mediaized.

  31. I respects Mother Teresa very much and remember her quote “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”

    That’s all.

  32. When I read this article with the line above about Mother Teresea’s interview with a journalist “who shared her right wing catholic attitudes” I knew this was an amateurish diatribe by some angry, liberal catholic haters who know nothing about the Catholic religion.).

    Respecting life and being anti abortion is part of being a follower of the Catholic religion. That rings true with Mother Teresa’s behavior.

    The details given here on MTs handling of money are so sparse and unmeaningful that there’s not much to go on to determine the role MT played in the donations, her role in dispersing them or whether the donations were used at all, for what or if it was improper. The authors did allude to MT not giving the poor any money….another typical liberal diatribe, always looking for a handout.

    MT genuinely cared for the poor and prayed with them, for them and opened missionaries all over the world trying to ease suffering. I’d say that’s a sainty goal these days.

    The authors have produced a kindergarten work here that will only serve to turn readers against them, instead of intelligently guiding the reader towards a conclusion that they intended…

  33. On October 7, 1950, Mother Teresa and the small community formed by her former pupils was labeled as the Diocesan Congregation of the Calcutta Diocese, and thus received the permission from the Vatican to exist as a Church subject. Their mission was to care for (in Mother Teresa’s words) “the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society, people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone.” It began as a small community with 12 members in Calcutta, and today it has over 4,500 Sisters running orphanages, AIDS hospices, charity centres worldwide, and caring for refugees, the blind, disabled, aged, alcoholics, the poor and homeless and victims of floods, epidemics and famine in Asia, Africa, Latin America, North America, Europe and Australia.

  34. She offered comfort and gave a voice for all that were sick and dying. She opened eyes of many on the horrors in our lives and all around the world. She was dedicated to easing pain.

  35. This is amateur attempt to discredit a woman who does not deserve it. I’m always astonished at the lack of balance and integrity when it comes to these type of attacks, which only goes to show how truly irrational they are. Let’s just disregard all of her merits and many good works and rake her through the coals. Ah yes, thank you for your noble aspirations of trying to undermine a woman who has inspired countless others to help the poor and underprivileged. To do so in the name of science I find disgusting. In the end I find this article only does the opposite of what the authors intended by discrediting them and their so-called research.

  36. Another man made fairy tale and lllusion.. To withhold palliative care and pain killers is inhumane .. Haven’t fact checked this story .. But seems like more lies we have been fed in the name of Religion.. Some one or cause profited as people suffered .. Shame shame .. Why am I not surprised . .. Watch your loved one die a miserable death in pain and let me know how that goes… Wake up .. Money is the root of all evil.. And so it goes ..

  37. This article… and ridiculous, “scientific” inquiry… seems to be a lame attempt to garner self serving attention. Unfortunately, it was a waste of time to read. It is an unsuccessful attempt to discredit character and attach Mother Teresa’s person to the Catholic church, her own church and a church she stood up to when needed and had personal conflict with. No reporting on that… to balance the article, eh? Oh, I forgot, the article is not about the church? By the way, not a fan of the Catholic church here. Is someone trying to tie in beautification with science? Not only is that inapproriate, it is just plain stupid.

  38. “Why is a “science” blog so obsessed with religion and religious figures if they claim that religion has no place in science? If it has no place then why are you so threatened by it?

    Nazism was driven by the idea of eugenics which drew its inspiration from darwinism.

    If you are a devout darwinist then you cannot believe in free will and if you don’t believe in free will then you cannot believe in morality.”

    The amount of stupidity in this statement is incredibly high!

  39. I volunteered at Mother Theresa’s ashram in Ahmedabad in 2009, and i have found few other places on earth in which I could honestly say that i felt felt genuinely ‘holy’. I have also worked around patients in nursing homes as well over the years, and I feel sad for ‘scientific’ people, since most of them eventually recant their views towards the end. Mother Theresa has left a wonderful legacy behind her, and countless people who would have spent decades of their lives in misery, isolation, & abject poverty instead found sanctuary in the arms of humble sisters & volunteers thanks to her efforts. It is actually for these giant efforts and all of her everyday sacrifices that we celebrate her and not for her fiscal foresight or lack thereof. Being saintly surely must not be equated with being perfect in all areas.

  40. Why is a “science” blog so obsessed with religion and religious figures if they claim that religion has no place in science? If it has no place then why are you so threatened by it?

    Nazism was driven by the idea of eugenics which drew its inspiration from darwinism.

    If you are a devout darwinist then you cannot believe in free will and if you don’t believe in free will then you cannot believe in morality.

    History is repeating itself again. Humanity will never learn. You attack what you don’t understand.

  41. I was always captivated by the key point in Hitchens’s original thesis: Who, exactly, pulled the media strings to market Teresa as a saint?

    Which leads to the next question: Why market *anyone* as a saint? What’s the purpose? In fact, shouldn’t such marketing been seen askance by anyone with an abiding interest in divine things?

  42. Shame on YOU!! This is not news. She was exposed a long time ago by Christopher Hitchens and Aroup Chatterjee. The latter work is far more comprehensive and detailed about her work in India (or lack of it). Hitchens commentary is more personal and witty. It is truly amazing what the indoctrinated will do to deny the truth.

  43. People are never as big as life as their personal myths. I think what she did in India was wrong but she had her reasons. What happened to all the money she got? She could have used it to bring up the lifestyle of that whole country. It’s obvious she didn’t spend it on herself by the looks of things. I guess the church got it. As for the teachings about a “Satan” they are wrong. Satan was an angel and never evil. It is a misconception of Christians unfortunately. Who knows what this woman was really like but she was old and set in her ways and believed mostly like the church and probably like her denomination. Some believe there should be suffering to rise one up to the divine. For me it is a delusional idea like flagellation but to each their own. It doesn’t mean she was a bad person. She might have been a bit senile.

  44. People who are dishonest believe in religion. GOD can not be foolish like people. He or she or it did not create Bible. It is is a repeatedly rewritten vision of people who want the best for the humanities, but high jacked by religious fanatics like Catholics, Muslims, Jews et al. No religion wants you be a fool and meta physical world can not be controlled by fools. The decline of West has started when the Churches punished scientists, yet all these holly grails are using every modern facility adding to their comfort. The want to control the people and keep them as slaves, but it is too late and the young generation knows about these crooks. While science is not answering every thing, it is providing methods and procedures to enhance our knowledge. GOD wants that because we are his or her image and children.

  45. I love this. She’s not who we thought because some of the people she was helping in third world countries didn’t get the same type of help that they would in the states. That’s a fair comparison.
    Then she’s a terrible person because she atated that she doesn’t believe it’s ok to kill a baby just because it originated from rape WHILE ACCEPTING THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE.
    great study here folks

  46. Here’s the thing that the religiously blinded just don’t get. MOTHER TERESA IS NOT THE ENTIRETY OF YOUR RELIGION. It’s possible to look at this woman in an honest and factual light without disproving or insulting your entire religion. You don’t have to defend this woman to the grave simply because her beliefs were tangentially related to yours. Writing a research paper using over 200 verified biographical documents as a source isn’t being a “liar” or an attempt at slandering the dead. It’s the TRUTH. What would you rather they do? Lie to make you feel better?

  47. @Jody

    The bible is a book – it’s sole purpose is to blind and enslave, by purporting to enlighten and free. If no-one examines the past for truth or deceit – we are doomed to learn nothing, and lose everything. Basing your personal judgement of the world on that book is silly, using it to condemn others is shortsighted and petty.

    Good luck with the whole religion thing – it numbs the mind to reality, and forgives the unforgivable (for a fee).

    LRH was right – religion IS like getting a licence to print money, with no real product sold, no money back offers, and no customers rising from the dead to confirm the hoax.

    FSM. Ramen…

  48. You’re a real class action idiot. Is this what proponents of science are the most busy at doing these bad mouthing the dead? Especially those who dovoted their lives helping the poor?

    The bible is quite correct when it describes with such vehemence what liars are and who their father is…satan himself…the accuser of brethren. This garbage of an articles is certainly the best example of it I have seen. It reads just like something from the “Screw Tape Letters” written by CS Lewis.

  49. @Longval

    Where you one of the que docs demanding $600 per diem to volunteer in Haiti after quake?

    Je me souviens – indeed

    Gotcha – now let’s see what kind of fun we can have w/ you…

    L8R H8R

  50. @MichaelLongval


    My handle is joke nick – JK’s is an homage. Yours is going into google, and WE will talk later (as soon as you pry your face outta some clerics crotch).

    Zealot – wake up and smell the incense.

  51. @WallStreet:

    “…the irony is palpable…” is your handle where you say to “F’ the corporate religious machine”.

    Man up and use your real name.

  52. To our self proclaimed most educated and open minded authors of this expose on Mother Teresa you have raised many questions in my mind, here are the first two: (1)how much of your wealth you have donated to the poor on this earth?(2) When you both travel to the steamy slums of Calcutta to cradle the sick and dying in your arms, will you allow me to accompany you?

  53. @JackKerouac – badmouthing Hitchens, while using the handle of a semi-closeted gay, serial drunk, woman abusing “bad boy”???

    The irony is palpable

  54. Until now, I’ve always thought of Mother Teresa as a struggling parishioner with inadequate funding and resources trying to relieve the dying masses of their suffering … after reading this, I’m starting to think she was a religiously motivated psychopath who reveled in the pain of the unfortunate …

  55. Christ, you’re quoting that anti-Semite Christopher Hitchens? Way to face plant your article in one paragraph or less. Hitchens, the publicity seeking, alcoholic, serial lying anti-religious zealot. Yeah, I believe what that guy has to say about Mother Theresa.

    And this isn’t a research study; at BEST it’s a literature review and a half-assed one at that. Have you seen the rest of this guys work? Ha!

    Everyone who has given this article a ‘woo hoo’ or other such approving nonsense is exactly what is wrong with the world today.

  56. What possible credit or notoriety would the author hope to gain
    in publishing an alleged smear campaign on Mother Theresa?

  57. “a thieving fanatical Albanian dwarf” as described by Christopher Hitchens…

    I loved this article – if you are going to kick a sacred cow, this is a big one…

    F’ the corporate religious machine, F’ the hypocrisy of golden churches and starving (but breeding) serfs, F’ the whole “sainthood” ploy to gild a troll.

    Her nuns may have good hearts, but that little parasite was in it for her ladder to god.

  58. I dont see how these publications can leave something constructive to our society. Pointing out certain “facts” that – whether they’re true or not – can only lead to conclude that Mother Teresa, who is a motivational source for millions, should stop been seen as an encouraging example for those who tend to share their prosperity with others.

    I honestly don’t see the purpose of some great academics to focus on something that can only affect people desire to improve as human beings.

  59. I worked in the east end of London as a student nurse in the late 1970 s early 80s and worked in the poorest areas alongside her nurses. They were kind , devoted and inspiring nurses. They had devoted there lives to help and care for the sick and dying they would not have been following a false shallow or cruel nun as you imply. I’m am saddened by this lack of clarity in the article , evidence ,documentation all open to interpretation she was many things but to talk as if she was removed from the suffering of women is wrong. Abortion is tragic, for the mother as it invades her body and traumatises her mentally and physically at anytime . For the baby it is simply disposed of as a waste product of a procedure. No matter how noble the reason and rational for allowing abortion on demand you can only do so at great cost and suffering to mother , foetus and staff.

  60. This hasn’t moved me. A lot of speculation and jumping to conclusions .
    Plus consider whom the criticisms are coming from. Mr. Hitchens/ known to be an outspoken Athiest.

  61. The paper was published by a fraud. Serge is a little man with a sad, destructive life. One day when he grows up he will regret writing a half-baked story in effort to be mean to his latest victim. Good job Serge, now go get a life.

  62. I am so sad to see this article written in this way , I worked in the east end of London in the late 1970 s and early 80s with the mother Teresa mission nurses along side us in the poorest areas of London . They were kind , devoted to relive suffering non judgmental and worked very hard. I was a student nurse at the time and had nothing but admiration for them. None of them would have followed or devoted the lives to cause lead by the person you describe.

    Sadly documents can be interpreted as you wish, evidence can be taken out of context. I understand that you can wish to rationalise someone life based on faith but ask yourselves what would say to her in person.

  63. The main author of this “article” is professor of psychoeducation. NOT of religious studies. He admits to deciding to “investigate” Mother Teresa on a whim.

    His “scientific research” consists of reading a bunch of stuff written buy another bunch of people, including Christopher Hitchens, who is not simply an atheist, but a self described ANTI-theist and alcoholic (added that in there for the ad-hominem part….), so a REALLY great reference for religious studies…

    The professor boasts of having 300 published articles to his credit. His areas of expertise are education and epistimlogy, with subjects ranging from “Belief in Santa Clause has an expiry date.” to “Psychoeduction intervention clinics offered to summer camp directors.” (see his web page at the Université de Montreal)

    Really heady stuff.

    My take on the whole thing is it’s just a publicity stunt by the professor and the Université de Montreal.

    The above is a translation, from french, of the press release from the Université de Montreal about the professor.

    It would also seem someone with an IP address in the Montreal area, (a minion perhaps?) has even gone so far as to add the reference to the soon to be released article to the french Wikipedia page on Mother Teresa. (check the modifications to the french version of the page….) Kinda like intellectual incest.

    It is really easy to target a dead catholic nun.

    Your not bound to get much more than a few grumpy replies from the audience.

    It is however sad to see that this charade is passed off as SCIENCE.

    If this is SCIENCE then we have sunk VERY low.

    What the professor has written, at best qualifies as a review of litterature, and at worst as bad mouthing a person who can no longer defend herself, but who’s legacy of good deads and charity will outlive the professor and all of us.

  64. Mundus Vult Decipi.

    You cannot dismiss her history as, upon the whole, a malefic fraud. The truth is, in fact, a relatively unimportant aspect, in that it is an aspect whcih never need trouble us personally, if we’re careful. We know her to be the begetter of so much charity, of forbearance, and of her devotee’s contentment.

    Her story inspired people to do good, and to be good, whether or not she was good herself. Just because her story is as hollow as the religion that beatified her, does not change that.

  65. FIrst of all many people criticize without knowing the true details of the research or the real circumstances. Any intelligent and ethical person should first know the real facts, check the sources, study, and analyze before emitting any judgment.
    Most people are quicker to judge than to think or read more about a case.
    Secondly, it would be illogical to think that just mother teresas’s order could solve all of the problems of India.
    Third, culturally India is not and has never been a very hygienic country, there are cultural causes behind that, historical causes, tradition and religious causes. Not even the whole India as a state could change the culture of the whole population and make the entire country hygienic and clean, not even in decades could that be achieved. However evil people who like to criticize without thinking, believe that mother Teresa could change the whole country. Those quick judging people do more harm to human kind that mother Teresa could do even if the accusations against her were true!

  66. Actually “Mother” Teresa basically fessed up to ALL of these accusations in her memoirs. So … she was a greedy fraud who gloried in the suffering of others, all while demanding First-World medical treatments for herself. She took the millions donated to build HOSPITALS to care for the sick and dying, and built MISSIONARY SCHOOLS instead. Her ‘patients’ sleep basically on dirt floors, and use communal bathrooms … some of which are just holes in the ground. Seriously? Millions of dollars can’t buy a couple of TOILETS and BEDS??? I guarantee that the suite she used when SHE went to EUROPE for her medical care had clean water, a bed with clean sheets, a toilet … etc., etc. … not to mention CELEBRITY WELL-WISHERS on a regular basis.

    Even when the Keating scandal broke, and it was INTERNATIONALLY KNOWN that he had conned money out of old people’s retirement funds … the RCC and “Mother” Teresa didn’t even OFFER to give a PENNY of it back to those old people. (And come on … as if the Roman Catholic Church is hurting for money, and couldn’t afford to give any of it back to the old people it had been basically stolen from!)

    “Mother” Teresa … Hypocrite. And the female embodiment of pure evil.

  67. Everyone assumes that she had control of the money sent to her. Just because a Charity or trust has her name to it DOES NOT mean she had any access to it at all. No body is perfect and she probably had some of the old Opus DI type theology, but she did spend her ENTIRE life trying to help people. I doubt she even knew how many locations had her name to them. The world these days just seems to be just trying to destroy anyone that tried to have a kind reputation and is lifting up people who are complete monsters. By the way I am if anything Theosophical, I just believe in helping others to just progress.

  68. Glad that this is finally coming out into the light. All her ‘piety and humility’ were at the expense of those who came to her for relief; instead of helping the thousands who could have been saved, or their suffering alleviated, she chose to neglect them to death. Withholding food, painkillers, antibiotics, and even simple hygiene and bandages, is criminal neglect; it’s typical of the catholic church to cover up the ugly truth and gloss it over with platitudinous praise for a woman who did more harm than good. After all, they’ve only been doing it for two millennia!

  69. Daniel English may i use your quote? :-) “(the) persecution of great people tend to be a part of being great.”

    I liked what you said and totally agree! I be someone was swindling the money donations for sure!

  70. This is one persons opinion. Everyone these days wants to ruin anything religious and good. People would rather hate. I am sure mother Theresa was a good person or it would have showed, but she is human. I dont believe that stuff about her. I want to read HER memoirs. Im a muslim not a catholic I dont need to believe she was good but always heard she was. :-)

  71. I am not a Catholic. Yet, it would not be hard to see that Mother Teresa had good intentions. I don’t see her as being someone who would have knowingly spent her life doing what she did had those intentions not been there. It is easy to slice open a person’s life when they are dead and don’t have the ability to defend themselves. Not that I figure she would have done so. Because persecution of great people tend to be a part of being great. It would not shock me that the money issue were not at its root due to someone overseeing the banking aspect for her. I mean she never struck me as a highly intelligent finance woman in general. But as I said I think these attacks on her character are shameful. They are shameful because one can pretty well pick apart the life of anyone and spin them towards being a miserable human being. If someone wishes to do that. People do it all the time in politics and as well as in refuting academic studies of historical characters. It all depends on which way the person who claims to be non-biased wishes to incline their writing. Hitchens was a great man yet he made no qualms about his disdain for Mother Teresa. So he was not exactly an unbiased writer either.

  72. If she had used those millions she got from donations for ‘helping the poor’, she would have set up atleast ONE hospital or care centre with all the necessary medicines and proper facilities. But no, she preferred to go around the world and build 500 centres to boast about and gather followers to the cult. She was a hypocrite.

  73. I thank the authors for posting this prior to publication. India is such a country which allows any one who is interested in doing anything which helps human beings or any beings. It allowed and even allows now also anyone who wants to live in India. It respects those who stay peacefully. But it gets brickbats in return. This is one such. A country with people deeply immersed in devotion to God and spirituality are taken for a ride by such people. India having majority population Hindus lived happily with their Gods without interfering with others. Now it is becoming difficult for them to retain their faith not because the individual is loosing faith but by the interference by others. I cannot understand, why Catholics and Muslims are trying to change the religious scenario of India ?

  74. Nothing surprising at all about this particular farce ; that’s the way religious organisations, from the Roman Catholic Church to the Scientologists to Tibetan Buddhism, etc, etc, work – creating false «saints» and demonising their opponents. The case of Ms Gonxha is merely a wee tad more egregious than most….



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