Tuesday, September 6, 2016
The "Mother Teresa" Hype Knows No Bounds - And Catholics Have Another Fake Saint
Dr. Aroup Chatterjee insists Teresa's claimed wonder works have been oversold to a gullible world.
Roman Catholics now profess to have a new member added to their pantheon of sainthood. Mother Teresa, aka, Agnes Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, was officially declared "St. Teresa of Kolkata" on Sept. 3rd, by Pope Francis. However, there are those- including me - who call into question this entire Vatican dog and pony show and the ongoing agenda to name new "saints" to take the minds of the faithful off past priest abuse.
Years earlier, atheist Christopher Hitchens, in his book "Hell's Angel", had excoriated Bojaxhu as "a lying, thieving Albanian dwarf” and taking donations from dictators. Such charges were, of course, denied by the RC Church though it had a much more difficult time denying she received largesse from the sleaze bag behind the infamous Saving and Loan scandal, Charles Keating. See e.g.
Bruno Maddox, in a review for the New York Times, described how Hitchens had concluded that Mother Teresa was “less interested in helping the poor than in using them as an indefatigable source of wretchedness on which to fuel the expansion of her fundamentalist Roman Catholic beliefs.”
More to the point, Hitchens' work wasn't totally original but depended heavily on the account of Dr. Aroup Chatterjee. Chatterjee, an Indian-born British writer, had worked for a year as an intern in one of Teresa’s charitable homes, and documented a catalogue of criticisms against her. In summary, he found fault with the conditions in the facilities of her Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata, which one journalist compared to the photographs she had seen of Nazi Germany’s Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
Quoted in a NY Times Profile piece (Aug. 27), Dr. Chatterjee asserted:
"I never saw any nuns in those slums that I worked in. I think it's an imperialist venture of the Catholic Church against an Eastern population, an Eastern city , which has really driven horses and carriages through our prestige and honor. I just thought this myth had to be challenged."
But was it really a myth, or more a branding exercise? One could make the strong argument it was all about the latter. Indeed, as Douglas Roberts writes in yesterday's UK Independent:
"With everything happening in the world, why is this particular person getting so much posthumous airtime? The Catholic Church, after all, does not enjoy the same access to our political system as the Church of England, so what is the relevance here? Well, it's quite simple really if Mother Teresa was a celebrity, with a very well-managed brand."
In other words, Bojaxhu like Trump had succeeded in creating and catering to a brand, only this case, a religious brand - that of "serving the wretched of the Earth". Those donations from dictators and the likes of Charles Keating subsidized her misshapen brand much like Trump's numerous bankruptcies subsidized his. There is a parallel to behold if one makes the effort.
Note the "Mother Teresa" brand also conveys power, and likely much more than Trump can wield. Teresa-Bojaxhu expostulated often against both birth control and abortion. This is especially odd in the first case, given how the dire misery and destitution for which she claimed a ministry can be directly traced to overpopulation. Hence, the claim by many skeptics that she loved poverty, not the poor. See also:
Getting back to Dr. Chatterjee, he subsequently traveled the world meeting with volunteers, nuns and authors -researchers who were familiar with the Missionaries of Charity. He conducted over a hundred interviews and heard volunteers describe how workers with very limited medical training administered 10 to 20-year old medicines to patients - while "primitive facilities forced patients to defecate in front of each other" and "blankets stained with feces were washed in the same sink used to clean dishes."
How could the practices then be anything other than disease -producing? It would have been like a Potemkin care center where hundreds of sick came in, got cursory attention then got sicker - as they also made other patients ill from contact with their bodily effluent (from blankets etc. never properly sanitized the first time). In other words, Teresa-Bojaxhu presided over a whole monopoly of sickness and misery - but used the meticulously cultivated care façade to garner attention and push her zealous moral agenda.
Let's also register that the British medical journal the Lancet published a critical account of the care in Teresa’s facilities in 1994. Then an academic Canadian study a couple of years ago found fault with “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.” Multiple accounts say that Teresa’s nuns would baptize the dying and that she had a reputation for proselytizing. Dr.Chatterjee published his own extremely critical book on Teresa in 2003 which documented a "cult of suffering" with children "tied to beds and little to comfort patients but aspirin".
But never mind, Teresa-Bojaxhu and her accomodationists kept the brand going with inflated stories of the success of her care for Calcutta's destitute. But Dr. Chatterjee's take, in the NY Times piece, is that her "place in the Western canon was enough for some Indians to lionize her as part of an ingrained colonial mindset".
At the same time, he insists Calcuttans "do not associate her with miracles and mumbo jumbo" just as they "don't associate her with opposition to birth control and abortion."
As for the claimed "miracles" - these appear to have no more than circumstantial support, just as in the case of those claimed for John Paul II, see e.g.
In Teresa-Bojaxhu's cases, the claims arose from a woman (Monica Besra) in India whose stomach tumor disappeared and a man in Brazil with brain abscesses who awoke from a coma.
Interestingly, both credited their dramatic recovery to prayers offered to the nun after her death in 1997. Neither claimed any direct "hands on" intercession or in -person declarations from Teresa-Bojaxhu that they'd been cured. In effect, acceptance of their cases as miracles is merely a permutation of the post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy. That is, assuming a causal relationship from a merely sequential one. Event Y (in this case an apparent remission or cure) followed Event X (prayers offered to a nun) therefore Event Y must have been caused by Event X. Most people learn to shun such nonsense when they take Logic 101.
Also, in the case of Monica Besra's alleged "cancer cure" the state health minister has debunked it from the claim's inception and long maintained that Besra had been suffering from a cyst, not a cancerous tumor. The doctors have said she recovered after she received tuberculosis treatment for several months at a government hospital in Balurghat. In other words, if you must attribute the cure to a miracle make sure it's the miracle of modern medical science.
All of this is even more reason why the more advanced sectors of the Roman Catholic Church would like to dispense with the miracle malarkey as well as sainthood and leave the medieval rubbish behind. But their hands are basically tied, because the demographics of the Church have altered so drastically. As the Europeans (and many North Americans) have abandoned the faith, millions in the less developed world - who put lots of emphasis on superstitions and magic - have embraced it. Since the RCs don't wish to lose population power and influence they can no more ditch the mumbo jumbo than they can the opposition to birth control.
A far more potent reason to keep the "sainthood" wheels spinning is to keep the mind of the faithful - as well as outside critics - off the horrific priest sex abuse scandals. Those scandals totally undermined the Church's moral authority and the RCs know it. However, by shifting the accent to morally authoritative squawkers like Teresa-Bojaxhu and earlier, John Paul II, the Church believes it can regain some moral credibility. I hardly think so, but then I am no longer a Catholic having renounced the baggage of superstitious, medieval rubbish decades ago. Thus what I think may not matter a whit to hundreds of millions of believers currently awed by the "Saint Teresa of Kolkata" spectacle.
At the same time, it is inevitable that one day the Church will have to change and it will probably come with the arrival of a truly modern Pope who will no longer be hostage to primitive thinking, beliefs and nonsense. That awakening may take 40 years or 100, but it will happen, you can bank on it.
And what about the campaign of Dr. Chatterjee? He is adamant it will continue even as Western audiences "don't care about whether a third world city's dignity has been hampered by an Albanian nun." And "so obviously they're more interested in the lies, the charlatans and the frauds going on". But he is intent on getting them to see the whole story, not selective parts to soothe their own wounded souls or fragmented being. To that end, he says "I will not go away, it's as simple as that."
"Mother Teresa was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction. (...) Many more people are poor and sick because of the life of Mother Teresa. Even more will be poor and sick if her example is followed. She was a fanatic, a fundamentalist, and a fraud, and a church that officially protects those who violate the innocent has given us another clear sign of where it truly stands on moral and ethical questions."