Wednesday, 7 September 2016

"Hell’s angel? Saint Teresa of Calcutta just a holy woman doing God’s work", SCMP, 5 September


Kevin Rafferty identifies the many critics of Mother Teresa's canonisation as "feminists, leftists, liberals and free-thinkers". This is curious and begs an obvious question: are Teresa's fans then "misogynists, rightists, conservatives and bigots"?  (Hell's angel? Saint Teresa of Calcutta just a holy woman doing God's work, 5 September)

Ad hominems aside, the criticisms of Albanian-born Mother Teresa's work are well-researched and serious. Her help of the poor may have been outweighed by the damage done in her name: children allowed to die rather than receiving treatment, her opposition to contraception, and much more. 

My own pet peeve is the so-called "miracles". 

A tribal woman, Monica Besra, claims her stomach tumour disappeared because she had held a photo of Mother Teresa to her belly.  Miracle!

However Besra had earlier been treated at a hospital. Doctors say the tumour had responded to this treatment. Tumour remission happens with some regularity, even to we atheists.  It would have happened to Ms Besra whether or not she clutched her saintly photo.  Yet the Vatican claims their investigation was "exhaustive". Really?  Why are miracles never something truly miraculous: the regrowth of a severed limb, say? Even we "free-thinkers" would be forced to sit up and take notice at that!

I know I should have the good manners to "respect"  people of faith and Teresa, "a woman doing God's work".  And yet, as I watched the serried masses in St Peter's square and read Rafferty's Teresan encomium, my uncharitable thought was that this is a massive communal self-delusion. Rather than glory in the wonder of modern science, the faithful are enjoined to clutch photographs of dead Albanians.  

I guess I'm just a horrid "Cathophobe".

Peter Forsythe
9 Siena One
Discovery Bay
9308 0799

Mother Teresa's legacy under a cloud.  AFP. South China Morning Post. 4 September 2016
Criticism of Mother Teresa: Too little and too late.  Professor Jerry A. Coyn.  Why Evolution is True. 4 September 2016
A Critic's Lonely Quest: Revealing the Whole Truth About Mother Teresa. Kay Schultz. International New York Times, 26 August 2016
Mother Teresa, Hell's Angel.  YouTube. Christopher Hitchens, 8 November 1984