Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Hail Saint Teresa

It's time for the Catholic Church to pay Mother Teresa back for her lifetime of devotion to the interests of the church.  She is on the fast track for canonization, having been approved for the process years before the it would have been allowed by the official policy of the church, had that policy not been waived by Pope John Paul II.

And as we all know, prospective saints have to be credited with miracles, so the church set about find some miracle that they could attribute to her.  They found a case of a woman suffering from a tubercular cyst, who had been cured by normal medical treatment, and then declared that the cyst was a cancerous tumor that magically disappeared when the woman wore a locket bearing a picture of Teresa.  This cleared the way for beatification.
In 2002, the Vatican recognised as a miracle the healing of a tumor in the abdomen of an Indian woman, Monica Besra, after the application of a locket containing Mother Teresa's picture. Besra said that a beam of light emanated from the picture, curing the cancerous tumor. Some of Besra's medical staff and Besra's husband said that conventional medical treatment had eradicated the tumor.  Dr. Ranjan Mustafi, who told The New York Times he had treated Besra, said that the cyst was not cancer at all but a cyst caused by tuberculosis. He said, "It was not a miracle.... She took medicines for nine months to one year."  According to Besra's husband, "My wife was cured by the doctors and not by any miracle."  Besra's medical records contain sonograms, prescriptions, and physicians' notes could provide evidence on whether the cure was a miracle or not. Besra has claimed that Sister Betta of the Missionaries of Charity is withholding them. The officials at the Balurghat Hospital where Besra was seeking medical treatment have claimed that they are being pressured by the Catholic order to declare the cure a miracle. - Wikipedia
Why is the church so anxious to canonize Teresa?  It can't be because of what she did for the poor in India.  Her main concern was not to provide them shelter and medical treatment, but to convert them to Catholicism, even baptizing many without their knowledge or consent.  Of the estimated 100 million dollars in charity donations that Teresa took in, in addition to her Nobel prize, only about 5 to 7 percent went toward caring for the poor.  The hospices she ran were notoriously ill-equipped, lacking in adequate staff and supplies, especially anesthesia.  It was Teresa's belief that suffering was good for the soul, and would bring her patients closer to God.  So those who came to her facilities were subjected to needless suffering and pressure to convert to Catholicism, rather than appropriate medical care.  In her own words:
I think it is very beautiful for the poor to accept their lot, to share it with the passion of Christ. I think the world is being much helped by the suffering of the poor people.
She famously said suffering was a gift for the poor:
the most beautiful gift for a person that he can participate in the sufferings of Christ.
And suffer they did under her charity's care.  It is not surprising then, that there are many in India who feel no reason to be grateful to her for her charitable works there.  Needless to say, when she required medical treatment, she went to California.

It seems fairly obvious that Mother Teresa dedicated her life primarily to advancing the cause of the church, much more than the cause of the poor.  She was a staunch supporter of the Catholic stance against abortion and contraception, even in India, where so much poverty is attributable to unchecked population growth.  Teresa spent many millions of dollars establishing and building her religious order, rather than using that money to benefit the poor.  She accepted millions from donors that are more associated with corruption and evil than with aiding the poor, including Charles Keating, Robert Maxwell, and Jean-Claude Duvalier.  She defended the chairman of Union Carbide after the Bhopal disaster that killed thousands, when he tried to divert blame by contributing to Mother Teresa's charity.  Rather than providing support and standing with the victims, she only urged them to forgive.

Christopher Hitchens was asked to provide testimony to the church in the role of "Devil's Advocate" during her beatification process, which he comments on in this essay.  Although he presented a fairly devastating picture, the church has proceeded with the process, evidently regarding this testimony as a mere formality.  They are clearly more interested in perpetuating the myth of Teresa'a greatness than in recognizing the facts of her less than saintly works.


  1. Since the Kentucky School Board seems to think that Charlie Brown is too controversial for kids to handle, I'll just post here what they felt too dangerous to say in a school Christmas play.

    And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not; for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
    For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards men.

    Merry Christmas to all - even you, Skep!

    1. And I wish you a happy Christmas, too.

      Regarding the school board decision, it was an injunction against state-sponsored religious messages, not an injunction against the free speech of private citizens. It has always puzzled me why this should be regarded as a problem. In a non-government forum such as this one, you are free to espouse the religion and the religious message of your choosing. In a government-sponsored forum, it would be inappropriate and unconstitutional to advocate for any particular religion. I understand that you may feel that it is acceptable if that religion happens to be the religion of the majority. However, you must understand that the constitution was designed to protect the rights of all the people, not just the majority. I'm sure you would not be too happy about your child's school advocating a different religion. Why can't you be happy and appreciative about the freedom you have, and go home to celebrate that with your family, or go to your church, or whatever suitable forum you like? Why do you insist that the government should impose your religion on the rest of us?

    2. Actually, the real issue here has nothing to do with religious expression, but rather intellectual property rights. The school board had no legal right to change the wording of the play, to which all rights belong to the Schulz estate. They made no effort to acquire permission to do so. So unless they intended to produce the play precisely as it was written, word-for-word, they ought to have not done it at all.

    3. The school board decision was much more general than that. I doubt that it was the school board that selected this production in the first place, or said anything specifically about this production. It seems to me that the whole thing was "staged" by someone at the school. I suspect that presenting it with the Linus speech left for the audience to recite was a deliberate choice, to make a show of the "war on Christmas". So they succeeded in rousing the Christians in the audience and getting attention from the media. I'm sure Bill O'Reilly was having orgasms over it. Evidently Victor did, too.

      If school officials were less concerned about making a show about the war on Christmas, and more concerned about having an enjoyable experience for the children and the audience, they could have chosen an alternative production.

    4. It turns out that Glenn beck was incensed over the legal advice given to the schools that they shouldn't present explicitly religious messages. It was he who suggested that they present the production in this manner. Here. So clearly, this WAS deliberately staged to rile up the troops in the "war on Christmas". I feel sorry for the children, who became pawns in this rotten affair.