Mother Teresa The ‘Saviour’
There is this rumble, motley of voices protesting against Mother Teresa and Missionaries of Charity every time an incident comes to the surface. However, every time it loses steam or finds no takers, as the common narrative looms too clean for any criticism. It was there back in 2016 when Mother Teresa was bestowed sainthood for the charitable work she had done in India; primarily in West Bengal and neighbouring areas. Now, it’s here again in 2018, when the report is coming in from Jharkhand that two of the members of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity have been involved in the racket of selling babies. This is not the first time; this will not be the last time because, like all religious institutions that believe that theirs is the true higher calling, this too has too many bodies hanging in the closet.
Not Holier Than Thou
If you stumble upon the book “Mother Teresa: The Final Verdict,” you will probably find a different version of what you are usually told in churches and dioceses. It is true that Mother Teresa came to Kolkata when the city was not at its finest, but at the same time, she didn’t exactly land up in a black abyss that was crumbling from inside. Kolkata or then Calcutta was the first British capital and the colonial masters, although, hell-bent on making lives miserable for the Indians built amenities so that they themselves wouldn’t have to suffer or go without comfort. Calcutta, like every other city in the world, had its problems and its more than fair share of the suffering. However, in Teresa’s hand, Calcutta became the black hole of civilisation and she was the woman, who was going to save the downtrodden and bring relief to the ailing. This had its benefits; it’s always welcoming to have someone lend a hand to the suffering but what Mother Teresa did was promote the cult of suffering to a height that it did turn borderline toxic. Patients that needed advanced care survived on aspirin and prayer; Teresa took care of them all but the way that she knew was the best. The irony of the statement is that what the butcher thinks may not/will not work for the best interest of the lamb.
So Why Did No One Call Her Out
Bengal, with its cultural hangover and the fact that someone from the west will come to our aid and become our messiah by helping those, who will not even get help from the so-called Babus (Bengali Gentlemen), at that point of time, made for a stirring story. So, no one felt the need to see what was going on in the name of care. As long as they were receiving it; everything was just peachy because they were not getting it otherwise. Beggars can’t be choosers; so let’s go on with it. In an interview with NY Times Dr Aroup Chatterjee, who authored the above-mentioned book, shows the situational conundrum.
He quips, “Because Calcuttans think that Mother Teresa is Western and she’s a Western icon, she’s very progressive and they do not associate her with miracles and mumbo-jumbo and black magic just as they do not associate her with opposition to contraception and abortion.”
As for the West, “They don’t care about whether a third-world city’s dignity or prestige has been hampered by an Albanian nun.”
So, the nun, who peddled a city to the West as a hell hole, refused modern daycare that her organisation COULD afford due to the munificent donations it received. However, the organisation, which was strongly against contraception, even in marriage, and abortion, even if it was a rape, went on to become a saint.
This, I am afraid, is not the only finger pointing at Mother Teresa and her Missionaries of Charity (though all have been sidelined over the years). There is a documentary titled “Hell’s Angel,” which has been lampooned as false propaganda, as it had a British-Pakistani producer at its helm. The documentary led to mass controversy, which was followed by a literary piece called “The Missionary Position,” by Christopher Hitchens, who narrated the documentary labelling Mother Teresa as “less interested in helping the poor as in using them as an indefatigable source of wretchedness on which to fuel the expansion of her fundamentalist Roman Catholic beliefs.” And over the years, there have been several articles sprouting from here and there; all pointing towards the same hegemonial stance by the woman, who started it all and the organisation that followed suit.
Instances of frugality, even with enough donations to afford proper services, baptising patients on the death bed so that they die as a Christian (Mother Teresa of Calcutta: A Personal Portrait) and several others came in the forefront. The legacy that was built and maintained perseveres today and often you get to hear stories from those, who have “volunteered” from other countries to help the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata or places that they operate. The blatant misuse of power, trust and a whole lot of mismanagement is quite a common theme.
Let Me Help You With One Of Them
“On April 9th, 2009, I leaned against a wall and watched a man die only a few feet in front of me. This man had been lying down in a cheap metal bed, where he had spent the past 15 minutes shaking violently while a nurse tried to feed him some pills. But it was not until one of the volunteers – a middle-aged American fellow who claimed to be an Emergency Medical Technician back home – was summoned and proceeded to haphazardly inject this man with medicine that he finally closed his eyes for good.
I stood there in shock, not because I had witnessed a death, but because I had witnessed this volunteer inject this poor man several times, jabbing into his arm with careless force while appearing to have no idea how to find his vein. In addition, there was a huge air bubble in that syringe and even though the chances are low that such a bubble can be fatal, I’m quite certain that the bubble should not have been injected along with the medication. Either way, all I do know is that this man was dead less than a minute after the syringe was pulled out of his arm.
At this point, the volunteer packed up his small bag and walked away, treating the situation as if he had just tried to fix a leaky toilet. And within seconds, the religious sisters that ran the building quickly returned to their duties, as did the other volunteers around me.”
Source: Volunteering At Mother Teresa’s Home For The Dying
Another One From 2014
“This was a direly insufficient method of sanitization that posed a health risk to residents and volunteers alike.
‘Seven volunteers have come down with fevers in the last month. Four were even hospitalized,’ said the young bearded Frenchman stationed at the basin beside me. ‘Make sure you wash your hands before you eat lunch.’
When I asked why there was no washing machine, he referred to the vows of the Missionaries of Charity congregation: chastity, poverty and obedience.”
Source: Mother Teresa’s troubled legacy
The Utter Chaos
The problem here is not that today that it has been discovered that members of ‘Mission of Charity’ were found selling babies for a substantial amount of money; rather it is the question – how many more skeletons would one find if they go to dig into this organisation? How is it that an organisation that received billions in funds had no account of how things were run? How is it that people still revere a person? The answer lies in the same pathos that any religion will give you in India – don’t question what goes inside the organisation in the name of religion. From peddling a city as a hell hole to poor mismanagement, gross errors that allegedly claimed lives, unaccounted money received as donations and then its members selling babies for money. This is a time to ask questions. No one is a saint, once you take a look inside. It’s high time we start looking at what Mother Teresa and Missionaries of Charity stand for.