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Mother Teresa’s Legacy: Under a Cloud


Why this strange acceptance towards Christian fraud and contempt towards ‘Hindu’ India?

Organized Religion, Organized Charity is Organized Fraud  |  Jeff Koterba Cartoon on August 30, 2010

Organized Religion, Organized Charity is Organized Fraud | Jeff Koterba Cartoon on August 30, 2010

Mother Teresa raised millions, if not billions in the name of Kolkatta’s poorest – and India’s poor.

From this exhibition of India’s poor and poverty, less than 7% of the total ‘take’ was spent on people in whose name this money was raised.

If any Muslim ‘missionary’ had done this, wonder what level of outrage this country would have felt.

But Indians have developed a strange acceptance towards this kind of Christian fraud and contempt towards ‘Hindu’ India.

Mother Teresa (Cartoon by John Spooner; Cartoon courtesy - http://www.chrysalis.com.au)

Mother Teresa (Cartoon by John Spooner; Cartoon courtesy – http://www.chrysalis.com.au)

For years now, there has been a malignant growth of Christian-Western NGO funding – known and documented for the last 8 years – at least.

Coming back to Mother Teresa.

Social workers all around the world have drawn inspiration from her work and commitment to her cause. Yet, today in her centennial year, her legacy has lost its shine and is in disrepair. Located in one of the lanes of Taltala, home to lower class workers in west Kolkata, it is calm and pious, a world away from the cacophony outside on the busy A.J.C. Bose road.

But the cacophony is threatening to spill inside the Missionaries. Followers and volunteers are questioning the quality of service given in the care centres. They feel the Missionaries’ care centres are allergic to using modern-day therapy and technology to care for the inhabitants. Often untrained volunteers are given tasks that would normally require one to be trained in medicine and therapy. Missionaries has always kept change at bay. But in a world where it is very difficult to hide behind secrecy, the number of disillusioned followers is increasing. Missionaries doesn’t keep a tab on the financial transactions that take place. No one other than the sisters knows where the money that is donated is spent. Donations continue to pour in but people are asking for transparency on how the money is used.

The discord is most pronounced in the first home that Mother Teresa set up in 1952 — Nirmal Hriday, the Home for Dying Destitutes. A former rest house for followers from the nearby temple of Goddess Kali, the Home is a perfect picture for the work that Missionaries is known for. Disabled, disfigured and homeless men and women, many of whom are living their last days, find shelter here. It presently has 99 inmates, served by six sisters and dozens of volunteers, mostly young foreigners. The poor are bathed, clothed and fed until they recover and leave, or die. “Over the years, 86,170 people have been admitted. Of which 34,815 died,” says Sister Glenda, the head of Nirmal Hriday. It was Mother’s favourite home.

It is the kind of work that inspired Hemley Gonzalez, who lived on the other side of the world in Miami, United States. A migrant from Cuba, Gonzalez had grown up in a poor neighbourhood and was inspired after reading a biography of Mother Teresa. Gonzales, who runs a real estate business in Miami, reached Kolkata in December 2008 and stayed for two months.

“I was shocked to see the negligence. Needles were washed in cold water and reused and expired medicines were given to the inmates. There were people who had chance to live if given proper care,” says Hemley. He narrates incidents of an untrained volunteer wrongly feeding a paralysed inmate, who choked to his death; and another where an infected toe of an inmate was cut without anesthesia. “I have decided to go back to Kolkata to start a charity that will be called ‘Responsible Charity.’ Each donation will be made public and professional medical help will be given,” says Hemley, who now runs a campaign on Facebook called ‘Stop Missionaries of Charity,’ and has over 2,000 members.

“We should remember that Mother Teresa was clear that Missionaries of Charity was not operating a hospital. The homes are to serve the poor and give them the basic needs,” says Sunita Kumar, wife of former India Davis Cup coach Naresh Kumar and one who has been working with Missionaries’ sisters for over four decades.

But this reasoning that has evoked harsh reactions. “What stops them from starting a hospital? Surely, money is not a problem,” asks Aroup Chatterjee, a London-based critic of Missionaries of Charity. Chatterjee wrote a controversial book Mother Teresa – The Final Verdict in 2002 and collaborated with British writer and well known Mother Teresa-critic Christopher Hitchens to produce a documentary called Hell’s Angel for Channel 4.
Apart from the hospital, volunteers also cite the need for a well-planned rehabilitation for the sick who go back to the streets once they recover. “Some were sent back to the streets of their own will, but some against it,” says a European volunteer who has been coming to Nirmal Hriday since 2006. She cites the example of an “old lady” suffering from diabetes and incapable of walking. “We were told she was sent to another centre outside Kolkata but just few days later someone saw her on the street close to our centre… We were worried but could not do much.”
Sister Glenda clarifies that professional help is never avoided. “Look at Buddhni Bakshi,” she says pointing to a bald teenage girl sleeping on a stretcher. “She was abandoned by her parents because the wound in her head used to stink badly. When she came here, we did tests at a local hospital that showed a tumour in her head. We spent Rs. 4 lakh for the surgery and now she is fine,” adds Sister Glenda. The initiative to get professional help, say former volunteers, is a change.
Gonzalez questions why money can’t be used to improve the service at the homes run by the sisters. “Even the inmates soiled and infected clothes are washed by hands. Why can’t they buy a washing machine?” he asks.
It has become a sensitive issue since 2005 when a British television crew filmed children at Daya Dan, a care centre, tied to their beds. Questions arouse about the “primitive practices and lack of using modern methods of teaching.” The incident forced Mother House to release a statement saying, “We value constructive criticism and admit that there is always room for improvement.” Volunteers, who come in dozens from countries like Spain and Italy, have separately narrated incidents about sisters resorting to “shaking violently” or “beating” to discipline the challenged children.
Recent developments though indicate a fresh thinking. “Hygiene has been an issue but has improved as sisters opened to better standard through volunteers from Western countries,” says Father Robin Gomes who has been working with the Missionaries of Charity for more than 20 years. At Daya Dan, which also runs a dispensary for the poor twice a week, sisters in apron and gloves (a change from earlier days) go about like trained nurses.
A bigger change at the centre is in the way the 60 mentally and physically challenged children are taken care of. “We now have speech therapists and physiotherapists coming in regularly who look after the children,” says Sister Karina, a Mexican nun who has been heading Daya Dan for one year. The therapists also help train sisters and volunteers and a few of them are sent to training institutes for week-long classes.
It is good news about some of the changes. Unfortunately, we are still in the dark when it comes to their financial records,” says Gonzalez. The donation issue first came up in the early 1990s when it was revealed that Charles Keating, an American banker known for the infamous “saving and loan scandal,” had donated up to $1.25 million to Missionaries of Charity. Amidst calls to return the money, Mother Teresa controversially chose to remain silent, an incident that is still sited by her critics who demand transparency.
In early 2000, Susan Shields, a former Missionaries sister who left the organisation “unhappy”, created a furore by saying she herself had “written receipts of $50,000” in donation but there was no sign of the “flood of money.” Forbes India talked to a volunteer in the Los Angeles office of Missionaries of Charity who admitted that “even when bread was over at the soup kitchens, none was bought unless donated.” A report in German magazine Stern, revealed that in 1991 only seven percent of the donation received at Missionaries of Charity was used for charity.
Former volunteers and people close to the Mother House revealed that the Vatican, home to the Pope, has control over the “monetary matters” ever since Missionaries of Charity came under its fold in 1965. The control got stronger after Mother Teresa died in 1997.  When asked about how much money the Charity gets annually, the then superior general Sister Nirmala in a rare media interview a few years ago remarked “Countless.” When asked how much it was, she answered, “God knows. He is our banker.” Forbes India’s request for details was turned down at the Mother House. Sister Mary Prema, the present superior general, did not agree to a meeting.

“To quote the Bible, she was “as cunning as a serpent and as innocent as a dove,’” says Father Gomes. “Like all organisations that were headed by famous people and suffer after they leave, Missionaries of Charity has a void. At the same time, the sisters at Missionaries of Charity continue the work that she had done. Every time you see the blue bordered sari, your remember Mother Teresa,” he adds.The association has worked well for Missionaries of Charity. The number of homes and sisters, despite a drop in those coming from India, has increased since 1997. Realising the importance early, the late Pope John Paul VI made sure that a council of sisters was formed before Mother Teresa died. That council, consisting of senior sisters, now runs the organisation and also recommends amongst itself the next head. This is then cleared by the Vatican. In its last meeting in March 2009, the council elected Sister Mary Prema as the new superior general of Missionaries of Charity. A German native, Sister Prema has been seldom seen publicly and few know her outside the Mother House. This, say observers, while keeping intact Mother Teresa as the face of the organisation even after her death, has also led to the disconnect with the local people. One indicator of this disconnect might be the almost complete absence of Indians among the volunteers.After her beatification, after which she is officially called Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, the process is on now in the Vatican to bestow Mother Teresa with sainthood. In a 1989 interview with Time magazine, when asked about the future of the Order, Mother Teresa had replied that it was Jesus’ concern.Now would be the right time for God to take a closer look.

via Forbes India Magazine – Mother Teresa’s Legacy is Under a Cloud.


  1. January 31, 2013 at 10:16 am
  2. Bhagat
    January 31, 2013 at 10:36 am

    The pope beatifies Mother Teresa, a fanatic, a fundamentalist, and a fraud.
    By Christopher Hitchens
    Posted Monday, Oct. 20, 2003, at 4:04 PM ET

    I think it was Macaulay who said that the Roman Catholic Church deserved great credit for, and owed its longevity to, its ability to handle and contain fanaticism. This rather oblique compliment belongs to a more serious age. What is so striking about the “beatification” of the woman who styled herself “Mother” Teresa is the abject surrender, on the part of the church, to the forces of showbiz, superstition, and populism.

    It’s the sheer tawdriness that strikes the eye first of all. It used to be that a person could not even be nominated for “beatification,” the first step to “sainthood,” until five years after his or her death. This was to guard against local or popular enthusiasm in the promotion of dubious characters. The pope nominated MT a year after her death in 1997. It also used to be that an apparatus of inquiry was set in train, including the scrutiny of an advocatus diaboli or “devil’s advocate,” to test any extraordinary claims. The pope has abolished this office and has created more instant saints than all his predecessors combined as far back as the 16th century.

    As for the “miracle” that had to be attested, what can one say? Surely any respectable Catholic cringes with shame at the obviousness of the fakery. A Bengali woman named Monica Besra claims that a beam of light emerged from a picture of MT, which she happened to have in her home, and relieved her of a cancerous tumor. Her physician, Dr. Ranjan Mustafi, says that she didn’t have a cancerous tumor in the first place and that the tubercular cyst she did have was cured by a course of prescription medicine. Was he interviewed by the Vatican’s investigators? No. (As it happens, I myself was interviewed by them but only in the most perfunctory way. The procedure still does demand a show of consultation with doubters, and a show of consultation was what, in this case, it got.)

    According to an uncontradicted report in the Italian paper L’Eco di Bergamo, the Vatican’s secretary of state sent a letter to senior cardinals in June, asking on behalf of the pope whether they favored making MT a saint right away. The pope’s clear intention has been to speed the process up in order to perform the ceremony in his own lifetime. The response was in the negative, according to Father Brian Kolodiejchuk, the Canadian priest who has acted as postulator or advocate for the “canonization.” But the damage, to such integrity as the process possesses, has already been done.

    During the deliberations over the Second Vatican Council, under the stewardship of Pope John XXIII, MT was to the fore in opposing all suggestions of reform. What was needed, she maintained, was more work and more faith, not doctrinal revision. Her position was ultra-reactionary and fundamentalist even in orthodox Catholic terms. Believers are indeed enjoined to abhor and eschew abortion, but they are not required to affirm that abortion is “the greatest destroyer of peace,” as MT fantastically asserted to a dumbfounded audience when receiving the Nobel Peace Prize*. Believers are likewise enjoined to abhor and eschew divorce, but they are not required to insist that a ban on divorce and remarriage be a part of the state constitution, as MT demanded in a referendum in Ireland (which her side narrowly lost) in 1996. Later in that same year, she told Ladies Home Journal that she was pleased by the divorce of her friend Princess Diana, because the marriage had so obviously been an unhappy one …

    This returns us to the medieval corruption of the church, which sold indulgences to the rich while preaching hellfire and continence to the poor. MT 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. And she was a friend to the worst of the rich, taking misappropriated money from the atrocious Duvalier family in Haiti (whose rule she praised in return) and from Charles Keating of the Lincoln Savings and Loan. Where did that money, and all the other donations, go? The primitive hospice in Calcutta was as run down when she died as it always had been—she preferred California clinics when she got sick herself—and her order always refused to publish any audit. But we have her own claim that she opened 500 convents in more than a hundred countries, all bearing the name of her own order. Excuse me, but this is modesty and humility?

    The rich world has a poor conscience, and many people liked to alleviate their own unease by sending money to a woman who seemed like an activist for “the poorest of the poor.” People do not like to admit that they have been gulled or conned, so a vested interest in the myth was permitted to arise, and a lazy media never bothered to ask any follow-up questions. Many volunteers who went to Calcutta came back abruptly disillusioned by the stern ideology and poverty-loving practice of the “Missionaries of Charity,” but they had no audience for their story. George Orwell’s admonition in his essay on Gandhi—that saints should always be presumed guilty until proved innocent—was drowned in a Niagara of soft-hearted, soft-headed, and uninquiring propaganda.

    One of the curses of India, as of other poor countries, is the quack medicine man, who fleeces the sufferer by promises of miraculous healing. Sunday was a great day for these parasites, who saw their crummy methods endorsed by his holiness and given a more or less free ride in the international press. Forgotten were the elementary rules of logic, that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and that what can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence. More than that, we witnessed the elevation and consecration of extreme dogmatism, blinkered faith, and the cult of a mediocre human personality. Many more people are poor and sick because of the life of MT: 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.

    Correction, Oct. 21, 2003: This piece originally claimed that in her Nobel Peace Prize lecture, Mother Teresa called abortion and contraception the greatest threats to world peace. In that speech Mother Teresa did call abortion “the greatest destroyer of peace.” But she did not much discuss contraception, except to praise “natural” family planning.(Return to corrected sentence.)
    Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair and author of the book The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice.
    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/fighting_words/2003/10/mommie_dearest.html

  3. February 1, 2013 at 9:41 am
  4. March 6, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    Reblogged this on Coonal's space and commented:
    This is one of the several recent posts on Mother Teresa, whose Nobel Peace Award is questioned by many.

    The plain and simple truth about her is that she did whatever sort of social work a Catholic Church worker could possibly be expected to do. Such work never can be very highly regarded, but, on account of successful propaganda, she won the Noble Peace Award which, we observe, is sometimes controversial and motivated by political considerations.

    But to attribute miracles to her is an insult to human intelligence, which only the Catholic Church is capable of trying out.

    The following section from Hindu writer Sita Ram Goel’s book “PAPACY, its Doctrine and History” (Voice of India, 1986) is well worth quoting in this connection:

    CHRISTIANITY AND FREEDOM OF RELIGION

    The less said about the Christian call for Freedom of Religion the better. The record of Christianity in this respect exists in cold print and need not be reproduced here. Christianity has been and remains one one of the greatest and most persistent enemies of every freedom, let alone freedom of religion. Some of the most unrelenting crusaders against freedom in every form are still being hailed as saints by the Church. We have yet to hear of a Christian theologian who has betrayed anything but awe towards men like St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Francis Xavier.

    As recently as 1984, Mother Teresa gave an interview to INDIA TODAY which had come out a cover story on her in one of its issues. One of the questions put to her was: “With whom would you have sided between Galileo and the Church?” It did not take her even a split second to say, “With the Church.” Galileo was not propounding any theology opposed to Christianity. In fact, he was a believing Christian. he had only reported a physical phenomenon which he had seen with his own eyes and which he was prepared to show to the inquisitors appointed by the Pope. His discovery has since then been accepted by the whole world, including the Catholic Church. But Mother Teresa finds it difficult to forgive the man simply because differed with the Church, even though he was right and the Church was wholly in the wrong.

    What the Church really means by Freedom of Religion is that it should have an unbridled opportunity spread its superstition and extend its hierarchy with the help of mammoth finances from the West. What it does not endorse a Freedom of Religion is a non-Christian’s right to live his own life without its ministrations. It insists that it has an inalienable right to inflict its missionaries and its mumbo-jumbo on everyone everywhere. If anyone objects to this uncalled for and aggressive interference, he is violating Freedom of Religion.

  1. March 2, 2013 at 5:20 am

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