India · Religious Conversion · Religious Extremism

The unknown side of Mother Teresa!

On 17 December 2015, the Vatican confirmed that Pope Francis recognized a second miracle attributed to Mother Teresa involving the healing of a Brazilian man with multiple brain tumors.  The Vatican has set 4 September 2016 as the canonization date for Teresa when she will be declared a saint for curing diseased people with “miracles”.

The stories of Teresa curing diseases like cancer etc. were all fraudulent, and her canonization is nothing but a reward for doing the bidding of the political and religious power with a combination of selfish and selfless motives. While human intelligence is trying to challenge new limits by innovating through science and technology, religious bodies seem to take pride in adhering to outdated ideas like miracles. The fundamentalists who tortured Galileo for stating “earth is not flat” and the religious leaders who approve Teresa’s miracles are both cut from the same cloth.

This debate on the reasons of Sainthood and the miracles, made me to read more about Mother Teresa and I am astonished to know a lot which has not been much discussed! The findings are as below:

  1. The Two Miracles:
  • First Miracle: A Bengali woman named Monica Besra claims that a beam of light emerged from a picture of Mother Teresa, which she happened to have in her home, and relieved her of a cancerous tumour. Her physician, Dr. Ranjan Mustafi, says that she didn’t have a cancerous tumour in the first place and that the tubercular cyst she did have was cured by a course of prescription medicine. The Vatican’s investigators did not interview him but trusted the miracle of MT! The Vatican, nevertheless, concluded that it was a miracle. It’s a miracle itself, isn’t it?
  • 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.
  • 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 and 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.
  • Second Miracle: There are few details about the recovery of the Brazilian man, whose life the Vatican says was saved in the second miracle. He was unexpectedly cured from brain tumours in 2008 after his priest prayed for Mother Teresa’s intervention with God. Again, the problem is scientific validation of the claims.


  1. Medical care of poor and needy:
  • Mother Teresa considered that suffering – even when caused by poverty, medical problems, or starvation – was a gift from God. As a result, while her clinics received millions of dollars in donations, their conditions drew criticism from people disturbed by the shortage of medical care, systematic diagnosis, and necessary nutrition, as well as the scarcity of painkillers for those in pain.
  • British medical journal the Lancet published a critical account of the care in Mother Teresa’s facilities in 1994, and an academic Canadian study from 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.”
  • Volunteers at Teresa’s clinics have testified to the inadequate care provided to those who were dying. Despite receiving millions of dollars in donations, Teresa rarely kept her clinics up to date, and they lacked everything and even the simplest care.
  • Volunteers such as Loudon, and Western doctors such as Robin Fox of the Lancet, wrote with shock of what they found in Teresa’s clinics. No tests were performed to determine the patients’ ailments. No modern medical equipment was available. Even people dying of cancer, suffering terrible agony, were given no painkillers other than aspirin. Needles were rinsed and reused, without proper sterilization. No one was ever sent to the hospital, even people in clear need of emergency surgery or other treatment.


  1. Supporting the wrong side:
  • Given her efforts against the use of condoms in Africa, and her twisted view of suffering perhaps Mother Teresa exemplifies when a good person would have done so much better doing absolutely nothing.
  • She has drawn criticism for her vocal endorsement of some of the Catholic Church’s more controversial doctrines, such as opposition to contraception and abortion. “I feel the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion,” Mother Teresa said in her 1979 Nobel lecture. She travelled around the world to lobby against the legality of contraception and divorce.
  • In 1995, she publicly advocated a “no” vote in the Irish referendum to end the country’s constitutional ban on divorce and remarriage. The most scathing criticism of Mother Teresa can be found in Christopher Hitchens’s book The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice, in which Hitchens argued that Mother Teresa glorified poverty for her own ends and provided a justification for the preservation of institutions and beliefs that sustained widespread poverty.
  • When the International Health Organization honored Teresa in 1989, she called AIDS a “just retribution for improper sexual conduct.”
  • After Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s suspension of civil liberties in 1975, Mother Teresa said: “People are happier. There are more jobs. There are no strikes.” These approving comments were seen as a result of the friendship between Teresa and the Congress Party. Mother Teresa’s comments were even criticized outside India within the Catholic media
  1. Truth uncovered:

It was the work by Mother Teresa 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. “I wanted to come to India and serve in Kalighat (the place where Nirmal Hriday is situated),” he recounts over the phone. 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 paralyzed inmate, who choked to his death; and another where an infected toe of an inmate was cut without anaesthesia. “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.

  1. Money Matters:
  • In early 2000, Susan Shields, a former Missionaries sister who left the organization “unhappy”, created a furor 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.”
  • Even with donations specifically earmarked for charitable purposes, Teresa was known to transfer these funds to the Vatican Bank for general use. More suspiciously, Mother Teresa never disclosed her order’s finances except that which was required by law.
  • 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.
  • It was estimated that MT raised over $100 million for her charity, yet only 5-7% of this was used in catering to the poor. MT’s charity has always declined any request or appeal for financial audit.
  1. Connections:
  • Paul Turley was the Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles and Charles Keating’s co-prosecutor, replying to Mother Teresa who had written a letter to Judge Lance Ito who was about to hand out a damning sentence to Keating who in turn had duped millions of America’s small investors inducing them to invest in his Ponzi schemes. Now why would Mother Teresa of Kolkata write to a US judge supporting the fraudster? Because Charles Keating was her friend and benefactor who had bestowed 1.25 million dollars in the 1980s. So she renounced money but would testify as a character witness for wealthy Catholics in legal trouble, provided they paid her substantial donation such as Charles Keating. Teresa later wrote a letter testifying to Keating’s good character, and never returned the money she had received when requested.
  • Mother Teresa associated herself with many shady individuals during her life, including Jean-Claude and Michelle Duvalier, who ruled Haiti as a police state from 1971 through 1986. She laid a wreath of flowers on the tomb of Communist dictator Enver Hoxha, who was infamous for suppressing religion in Albania.
  • She travelled the world in a private jet given to her by a corrupt politician, a jet she refused to return when law enforcement in the US told her it had been purchased with embezzled money.
  • Teresa spent a lot of her time supporting radical forces like the Nicaraguan contras, a group which unleashed death squads in an attempt to conquer the country. She also often made appearances alongside world leaders like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher in an apparent attempt to sway policy. In 1988, she supported Margaret Thatcher on a bill against abortions.
  1. Conversion:
  • Baptisms of the dying: MT is criticised to use the charity cover for converting people even when they are on the death bed. In 1994, the devoutly atheist Christopher Hitchens and British Pakistani journalist Tariq Ali wrote an extremely critical documentary on Mother Teresa titled “Hell’s Angel.” The documentary, which drew heavily from the account of Aroup Chatterjee, an Indian-born British writer who had worked briefly in one of Mother Teresa’s charitable homes, listed a catalogue of criticisms against her.
  • She favoured religious conversion over tangible aid. Despite having a reputation of wanting to relieve pain and suffering, Teresa once 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.” Clearly, she chose to practice her ideology more stringently than compassion.
  • Mother Teresa believed that conversion is a work of God and that faith is a gift.
  • In Navin Chawla’s book (who was an old Congress loyalist) on Mother Teresa, where Mother Teresa herself during an interview says that ‘a lot of people confuse me as social worker, I am not a social worker. I am in the service of Jesus and my job is to spread the word of Christianity and bring people to its fold’.
  • “It’s good to work for a cause with selfless intentions. But Mother Teresa’s work had ulterior motive, which was to convert the person who was being served to Christianity,” RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said at the opening of an orphanage in Rajasthan state, the Times of India reported. “In the name of service, religious conversions were made. This was followed by other institutes, too.”
  • Multiple accounts say that Mother Teresa’s nuns would baptise the dying and that she had a reputation for proselytising. Chatterjee also published his own extremely critical book on Mother Teresa in 2003. Worse is that she was lauded for putting her religious ideas before the needs of the afflicted and dying where volunteer medical services and donated surplus could have helped.
  • Mother Teresa herself never made any attempt to hide this fact; on the contrary, she would emphatically state she was no social worker. “There is always the danger that we may become only social workers or just do the work for the sake of the work,” she told Malcolm Muggeridge. But by reaching out to the poor, she was reaching out to Christ.
  • She was a fundamental Catholic in every sense. Mother Teresa encouraged members of her order to secretly baptise dying patients, without regard to the individual’s religion. Susan Shields, a former member of the Missionaries of Charity, writes that “Sisters were to ask each person in danger of death if he wanted a ‘ticket to heaven’. An affirmative reply was to mean consent to baptism. The sister was then to pretend that she was just cooling the patient’s head with a wet cloth, while in fact she was baptising him, saying quietly the necessary words. Secrecy was important so that it would not come to be known that Mother Teresa’s sisters were baptising Hindus and Muslims.
  1. Double standards:
  • It’s been said, “There is no greater evil when good men do nothing.” From the Metro paper of UK: ‘Mother Teresa was generous with her prayers but rather miserly with her foundation’s millions when it came to humanity’s suffering. ‘During numerous floods in India or following the explosion of a pesticide plant in Bhopal, she offered numerous prayers and medallions of the Virgin Mary but no direct or monetary aid.
  • MT received enormous funds for her medical facilities in India which drew criticism for the medical condition to heal patients which was refuted by her organisation claiming the pride in what they provide. However she preferred California clinics when she got sick herself! One must wonder why she never stayed in one of her own clinics, or practiced the grandiose ideas which she so often espoused.


To conclude I call upon Christopher Hitchens who, writing about her beatification in 2003 summed it up the best:

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.

“Mother Teresa’s Hidden Mission in India: Conversion to Christianity”

Criticism of Mother Teresa

Hell’s Angel

Missionaries in India: Conversion or Coercion?
Interesting read:


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