Mother Teresa is declared a saint at the Vatican today.
The late Christopher Hitchens described her as a "religious fundamentalist, a political operative, a primitive sermoniser, and an accomplice of worldly secular powers". In ‘The Missionary Position’, Hitchens criticised the nun's "cult of suffering" and said she had hobnobbed with dictators.
In 2003, physician Aroup Chatterjee published a critique of the nun, after conducting some 100 interviews with people associated with the nun's sisterhood. He flayed what he called the appalling lack of hygiene - reuse of hypodermic needles - and shambolic care facilities at their homes, among other things. He said of the supposed miraculous cures that the "so-called miracles are too tawdry and puerile to challenge even".
Hemley Gonzalez, who worked as a volunteer in one of Teresa's homes for the poor in Kolkata for two months and 2008, and was "shocked to discover the horrifically negligent manner in which this charity operates and the direct contradiction of the public's general understanding of their work"
He says the organization didn’t vet him or the other volunteers. None, including himself, had any medical experience or received any training before working at the hospice. He claims he saw nuns routinely reuse needles after washing them in tap water, that clothes — sometimes soiled with urine and feces — and cooking utensils were hand washed side by side in the same room. Patients suffering from respiratory diseases had to bathe in freezing water because a single water heater wasn’t barely enough for one bath, he says. And he claims there was not a single doctor or medically trained nurse at the hospice. “It was a scene out of a World War II concentration camp,” says Gonzalez.
Gonzalez accused Mother Teresa of "Standing firm against planned parenthood, modernisation of equipment, and a myriad of other solution-based initiatives, Mother Teresa was not a friend of the poor but rather a promoter of poverty." During her Nobel Peace Prize Lecture after winning the prize in 1979, she said the “greatest destroyer of peace is abortion.”
The charity receives millions of dollars in donations from around the world, they should have been able to build hospitals, schools and to upgrade their facilities. There’s no transparency — and very little information available — on the charity’s bookkeeping. As a registered charity operating in over a 100 countries, there needs to be some accountability, as there is with groups such as The Red Cross or Oxfam.
Canadian academics trawled through 96 per cent of all originally researched literature on the Catholic icon and concluded that her reputation as one of the holiest women of the twentieth century was the product of hype. Researchers allege missing funds for humanitarian work and homes for the poor that did not offer the medical care they required, leaving many to die.
Serge Larivée, a researcher from the University of Montreal, said: "Given the parsimonious management of Mother Theresa's works, one may ask where the millions of dollars for the poorest of the poor have gone?”
Indian rationalist, Sanal Edamaruku , has questioned the miracles which have led to the nun's sainthood. Edamaruku had debunked the first finding, wondering how a woman could be cured by a photo of the nun placed on her stomach, when there was evidence to suggest that medicines treated her. Today, he says, "most people don't want to challenge the nun anymore because of her image as somebody who worked for the poor". He continued, "If you question Mother Teresa you are seen as anti-poor. I have nothing against her, but miracle-mongering is not scientific."
A group of academicians and social workers have petitioned Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj to reconsider her decision to visit the Vatican to attend Sunday's sainthood ceremony.
"It boggles the mind that the foreign minister of a country whose constitution exhorts its citizens to have scientific temper would approve of a canonisation based on 'miracles'," the petition said.
If this obvious fraud is not brought to book and if the idea of miraculous healings gets credence, it will have dangerous consequences for the uneducated and the poor, insists Indian Rationalist Association. Confidence in modern medicine and science has to be developed and strengthened and people have to be encouraged to use available medical facilities for treatment instead of taking to superstition and miracle belief. The efforts should be to expand the outreach of the modern medicine to all strata of the society.