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Sunday, September 04, 2016

More on Mother Teresa's canonization

I have an earlier post about her canonization here, but on this, the day Mother Teresa is being canonized by Pope Francis, here's a bit from an article at CNN that exemplifies why I think she should not be a saint ....

'Troubled individual:' Mother Teresa no saint to her critics

[...] Disillusioned former volunteer Hemley Gonzalez didn't meet her in person, but what he calls the "horrific remnants of her legacy" have left him deeply uncomfortable. After visiting the facilities she's responsible for starting, he feels only a "troubled individual" could have set them up.

After the financial crisis of 2008, Gonzalez took a break from his real estate business in Miami and headed to India, where he spent two months volunteering at Nirmal Hriday, a home for the dying run by Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta's (now Kolkata) crowded Kalighat area.

Gonzalez says he was appalled at the poor level of hygiene and medical care he saw there. 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 says attempts to raise a red flag or offer to install a water heater were always met with the same response by the nuns. "We don't do that here. This is the way Jesus wants it, they'd say," Gonzalez tells us.


Since the group receives millions of dollars in donations from around the world, they say they should use it to build hospitals, schools and to upgrade their facilities.

It's true there's no transparency -- and very little information available -- on the group's bookkeeping. CNN's request to interview the current head of the organization was declined.

"The funds are coming," Sister Joan of Arc, head of the children's shelter in Kolkata, told CNN. "We can feed every hungry mouth every day. It's the miracle of love." Questions about funds are often met with a similar response.

That doesn't satisfy the critics. As a registered charity operating in over a 100 countries, they say there needs to be some accountability, as there is with groups such as The Red Cross or Oxfam.

"Why is this organization not being held to the same standard?" asks Gonzalez. "They get a free pass because of religion; they get a free pass because of the influence of the Vatican."


Even her path to sainthood has been controversial.

To become a saint, Pope Francis had to approve two miracles. One of them involved a rural woman, Monica Besra, who claims she was cured of cancer after praying to Mother Teresa.

Monica says she was cured by Mother Teresa's blessings and not by doctor's treatment.

"I took doctors' medicines, threw up and was in a lot of pain. But when I prayed to Mother Teresa from my heart, Mother Teresa blessed me and now I am healthy," she told CNN. "My entire village and I am very happy that she is being made a saint."

However, critics dispute this version of events — they say it was modern medicine and not a miracle that healed her. And some doctors claim her tumor was a cyst caused by tuberculosis, rather than a cancerous tumor.

"Our organization does not believe in any kind of miracle," Prabir Ghosh, General Secretary of Science and Rationalists' Association of India, told CNN.

According to Ghosh, Monica Besra's husband said as much to him in 2003. Ghosh told CNN that he has him on video saying his wife was cured by medicine, rather than Mother Teresa.

In an interview with TIME magazine in 2002, Besra's husband also challenged the Vatican's claim. "It is much ado about nothing," he told TIME. "My wife was cured by the doctors and not by any miracle."

However, Besra has since denied these statements. This week, he told CNN he stands by Mother Teresa's miracle and never made the comments to TIME ....

I can't help but think that saint-making, especially under Pope Francis who has fast tracked a record number of canonizations, has become mostly a method for generating publicity and money for the church.

More: Canadian study: Mother Teresa not so “saintly”


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