Mother Teresa: Faithless Fraud and Hypocrite
MichaelParenti.org - Oct 27, 2007
Mother Teresa, John Paul II, and the Fast-Track Saints
by Michael Parenti
During his 26-year papacy, John Paul II elevated 483 individuals to
sainthood, reportedly more saints than any previous pope. One personage
he beatified but did not live long enough to canonize was Mother
Teresa, the Roman Catholic nun of Albanian origin who had been wined
and dined by the world's rich and famous while hailed as a champion of
the poor. The darling of the corporate media and western officialdom,
and an object of celebrity adoration, Teresa was for many years the
most revered woman on earth, showered with kudos and awarded a Nobel
Peace Prize in 1979 for her humanitarian work and spiritual inspiration.
What usually went unreported were the vast sums she received from
wealthy and sometimes tainted sources, including a million dollars from
convicted savings & loan swindler Charles Keating, on whose behalf she
sent a personal plea for clemency to the presiding judge. She was asked
by the prosecutor in that case to return Keating's gift because it was
money he had stolen. She never did. She also accepted substantial
sums given by the brutal Duvalier dictatorship that regularly stole
from the Haitian public treasury.
Mother Teresa's hospitals for the indigent in India and elsewhere turned
out to be hardly more than human warehouses in which seriously ill
persons lay on mats, sometimes fifty to sixty in a room without benefit
of adequate medical attention. Their ailments usually went undiagnosed.
The food was nutritionally lacking and sanitary conditions were
deplorable. There were few medical personnel on the premises, mostly
untrained nuns and brothers.
When tending to her own ailments, however, Teresa checked into some of
the costliest hospitals and recovery care units in the world for
Teresa journeyed the globe to wage campaigns against divorce, abortion,
and birth control. At her Nobel award ceremony, she announced that the
greatest destroyer of peace is abortion. And she once suggested that
AIDS might be a just retribution for improper sexual conduct.
Teresa emitted a continual flow of promotional misinformation about
herself. She claimed that her mission in Calcutta fed over a thousand
people daily. On other occasions she jumped the number to 4000, 7000,
and 9000. Actually her soup kitchens fed not more than 150 people (six
days a week), and this included her retinue of nuns, novices, and
brothers. She claimed that her school in the Calcutta slum contained
five thousand children when it actually enrolled less than one hundred.
Teresa claimed to have 102 family assistance centers in Calcutta, but
longtime Calcutta resident, Aroup Chatterjee, who did an extensive
on-the-scene investigation of her mission, could not find a single such
As one of her devotees explained, "Mother Teresa is among those who
least worry about statistics. She has repeatedly expressed that what
matters is not how much work is accomplished but how much love is put
into the work." Was Teresa really unconcerned about statistics?
Quite the contrary, her numerical inaccuracies went consistently and
self-servingly in only one direction, greatly exaggerating her
Over the many years that her mission was in Calcutta, there were about a
dozen floods and numerous cholera epidemics in or near the city, with
thousands perishing. Various relief agencies responded to each
disaster, but Teresa and her crew were nowhere in sight, except briefly
on one occasion.
When someone asked Teresa how people without money or power can make the
world a better place, she replied, "They should smile more," a response
that charmed some listeners. During a press conference in Washington
DC, when asked "Do you teach the poor to endure their lot?" she said "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."
But she herself lived lavishly well, enjoying luxurious accommodations
in her travels abroad. It seems to have gone unnoticed that as a world
celebrity she spent most of her time away from Calcutta, with protracted
stays at opulent residences in Europe and the United States, jetting
from Rome to London to New York in private planes.
Mother Teresa is a paramount example of the kind of acceptably
conservative icon propagated by an elite-dominated culture, a saint who
uttered not a critical word against social injustice, and maintained
cozy relations with the rich, corrupt, and powerful.
She claimed to be above politics when in fact she was pronouncedly
hostile toward any kind of progressive reform. Teresa was a friend of
Ronald Reagan, and an admiring guest of the Haitian dictator Baby Doc
Duvalier. She also had the support and admiration of a number of
Central and South American dictators.
Teresa was Pope John Paul II's kind of saint. After her death in 1997,
he waived the five-year waiting period usually observed before beginning
the beatification process that leads to sainthood. In 2003, in record
time Mother Teresa was beatified, the final step before canonization.
But in 2007 her canonization confronted a bump in the road, it having
been disclosed that along with her various other contradictions Teresa
was not a citadel of spiritual joy and unswerving faith. Her diaries,
investigated by Catholic authorities in Calcutta, revealed that she had
been racked with doubts: "I feel that God does not want me, that God is
not God and that he does not really exist. People think my faith, my
hope and my love are overflowing and that my intimacy with God and
union with his will fill my heart. If only they knew," she wrote,
"Heaven means nothing."
Through many tormented sleepless nights she shed thoughts like this: "I
am told God loves me and yet the reality of darkness and coldness and
emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul." Il Messeggero,
Rome's popular daily newspaper, commented: "The real Mother Teresa was
one who for one year had visions and who for the next 50 had
doubts---up until her death."
Another example of fast-track sainthood, pushed by Pope John Paul II,
occurred in 1992 when he swiftly beatified the reactionary Msgr. Josi
Marma Escriva de Balaguer, supporter of fascist regimes in Spain and
elsewhere, and founder of Opus Dei, a powerful secretive
ultra-conservative movement feared by many as a sinister sect within
the Catholic Church. Escriva s beatification came only seventeen
years after his death, a record run until Mother Teresa came along.
In accordance with his own political agenda, John Paul used a church
institution, sainthood, to bestow special sanctity upon
ultra-conservatives such as Escriva and Teresa---and implicitly on all
that they represented. Another of the ultra-conservatives whom John
Paul put up for sainthood, bizarrely enough, was the last of the
Hapsburg rulers of the Austro-Hungarian empire, Emperor Karl, who
reigned during World War I. Still another of the reactionaries whom
John Paul set up for sainthood was Pius IX, who reigned as pontiff from
1846 to 1878, and who referred to Jews as dogs.
John Paul also beatified Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac, the leading
Croatian cleric who welcomed the Nazi and fascist Ustashi takeover of
Croatia during World War II. Stepinac sat in the Ustashi parliament,
appeared at numerous public events with top ranking Nazis and Ustashi,
and openly supported the Croatian fascist regime that exterminated
hundreds of thousands of Serbs, Jews, and Roma (gypsies).
In John Paul's celestial pantheon, reactionaries had a better chance at
canonization than reformers. Consider his treatment of Archbishop Oscar
Romero who spoke against the injustices and oppressions suffered by the
impoverished populace of El Salvador and for this was assassinated by a
right-wing death squad. John Paul never denounced the killing or its
perpetrators, calling it only tragic. In fact, just weeks before Romero
was murdered, high-ranking officials of the Arena party, the legal arm
of the death squads, sent a well-received delegation to the Vatican to
complain of Romero's public statements on behalf of the poor.
Romero was thought by many poor Salvadorans to be something of a saint,
but John Paul attempted to ban any discussion of his beatification for
fifty years. Popular pressure from El Salvador caused the Vatican to
cut the delay to twenty-five years. In either case, Romero was
consigned to the slow track.
John Paul's successor, Benedict XVI, [waived] the five-year waiting
period in order to put John Paul II himself instantly on a super-fast
track to canonization, running neck and neck with Teresa. As of 2005
there already were reports of possible miracles attributed to the
recently departed Polish pontiff.
One such account was offered by Cardinal Francesco Marchisano. When
lunching with John Paul, the cardinal indicated that because of an
ailment he could not use his voice. The pope caressed my throat, like a
brother, like the father that he was. After that I did seven months of
therapy, and I was able to speak again. Marchisano thinks that the
pontiff might have had a hand in his cure: It could be, he said. Un
miracolo! Viva il papa!
1. Christopher Hitchens, The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in
Theory and Practice (Verso, 1995), 64-71.
2. Aroup Chatterjee, Mother Teresa, The Final Verdict (Meteor Books,
3. Chatterjee, Mother Teresa, 188-189.
4. Mother Teresa, Nobel Lecture, 11 December 1979:
5. Chatterjee, Mother Teresa, 32, 179-180..
6. Chatterjee, Mother Teresa, 19-23, 106-107, 157, and passim
7. Chatterjee, Mother Teresa, 332-333.
8. Hitchens, The Missionary Position, 11 and 95.
9. Chatterjee, Mother Teresa, 2-14.
10. Bruce Johnston, Mother Teresa's diary reveals her crisis of faith,
11. http://www.odan.org/escriva_to_franco.htm and Curtis Bill Pepper,
Opus Dei, Advocatus Papae, Nation 3-10 August 1992.
12. Edmond Paris, Genocide in Satellite Croatia, 1941-1945 (American
Institute for Balkan Affairs, 1961), 201-205 and passim; also How the
Catholic Church United with Local Nazis to Run Croatia during World War
II: The Case of Archbishop Stepinac (Embassy of the Federal Peoples
Republic of Yugoslavia, Washington, DC, 1947); posted 2 August 2004,
13. Barry Healy, Pope John Paul II, A Reactionary in Shepherds Clothing,
Green Left Weekly, 6 April 2005.
14. Healy, Pope John Paul II, A Reactionary in Shepherds Clothing.
15. New York Times, 14 May 2005.
[Michael Parenti's recent publications include: Contrary Notions: The
Michael Parenti Reader (City Lights, 2007); Democracy for the Few, 8th
ed. (Wadsworth, 2007); The Culture Struggle (Seven Stories, 2006). For
further information visit his website: www.MichaelParenti.org.]