Miracle of medicine, not that of Mother, says study


A study conducted by Canadian researchers has called Mother Teresa “anything but a saint”, a creation of an orchestrated and effective media campaign who was generous with her prayers but miserly with her foundation’s millions when it came to humanity’s suffering

    The controversial study, to be published this month in the journal of studies in religion/sciences called Religieuses, says Mother Teresa — known across the world as the apostle of the dying and the downtrodden — actually felt it was beautiful to see the poor suffer

    According to the study, the Vatican overlooked the crucial humanly side of Teresa — her dubious way of caring for the sick by glorifying their suffering instead of relieving it — and went ahead with her beatification followed by canonization “to revitalize the Church and in
spire the faithful especially at a time when churches are empty and the Roman authority is in decline”. 

    Researchers Serge Larivee and Genevieve Chenard from the University of Montreal’s department of psychoeducation, and Carole Senechal of the University of Ottawa’s faculty of education, analyzed published writings about Mother Teresa and concluded 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 campaign”. 

    According to Larivee, facts debunk Teresa’s myth. He says the Vatican, before deciding on Teresa’s beatification, did not take into account “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…abortion, contraception, and divorce”. 

Miracle of medicine, not that of Mother, says study 
    At the time of her death, Teresa had 517 missions or “homes for the dying” as described by doctors visiting several of these establishments in Kolkata. They welcomed the poor and sick in more than 100 countries. 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 apt care. 

    According to the study, the doctors observed a significant lack of hygiene, even unfit conditions and a shortage of actual care, food and painkillers. They say that the problem was not a paucity of funds as the Order of the Missionaries of Charity successfully raised hundreds of millions of dollars. Researchers said that when it came to her own treatment, “she received it in a modern American hospital”

    The three researchers also dug into records of her meeting in London in 1968 with the BBC’s Malcom Muggeridge who had strong views against abortion and shared Mother Teresa’s right-wing Catholic values. 
    The researchers say Muggeridge had decided to promote Teresa. In 1969, he made a eulogistic film on 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. 

    Following her death, the Vatican decided to waive the 
usual five-year waiting period to open the beatification process. According to the researchers, one of the miracles attributed to Mother Teresa is the healing of Monica Besra, who suffered from intense abdominal pain, after a medallion blessed by her was placed on Besra’s abdomen. 

    Larivee said, “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.” 

    Larivee however signs off on a surprisingly positive note and says there could also be a 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,” they signed off.


Mother Teresa at Sishu Bhavan. Researchers at University of Montreal say her image doesn’t stand up to an analysis of facts


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