It seems a current popular trend, within a media-centred and largely globalised society, to judge actions by reputation rather than the other way around. It seems even more prevalent in well known figures such as Naomi Campbell, who is ‘known’ for having a volatile temper and to have faced court scrutiny for apparently being offered a valuable blood diamond as a gift. How often do we stop to think about who wrote these reports? Do we ever pause to think about where a report of trivial so-called ‘celebrity-journalism’ (produced for same audience as the endless chat-shows and blatantly staged reality-TV that is passed off as entertainment) comes from? The precedent of ‘reputation’ is a dangerous social construct which can be used to deliberately mislead us regarding the character and motives of persons we have either never met or are unlikely to ever meet. Never more is trend apparent than in the case of one elderly Albanian nun who went by the name of Mother Teresa. What I want to know is when word and deed ceased to take precedence before a ill-deserved reputation.
In 1969, Malcolm Muggeridge filmed a documentary named ‘Something Beautiful for God‘ which began the nun’s very public campaign backed by both the prominent and the infamous. His portrayal of Calcutta as a centre of despair and destitution was central to his very biased approach to his new pet-project. This view is a wholly inaccurate marketing ploy used very carefully by The Missionaries of Charity in order to achieve two goals.
- Keep the donations coming.
- Justify their presence in the country.
The truth of the matter is that, despite Calcutta’s problems of poverty as a result of overpopulation, the city hosts theatres and universities, and produces it own high quality printed media. Though plagued by religious conflicts over the years, it is predominated by secular and leftist politics. This over population problem is not helped by the ever present Catholic Church working to spread disinformation about contraception and disease, and ban abortion among demographics of the poorly educated and already struggling families in what is most patronisingly referred to as the ‘third world’. The problems of these countries will not be solved by these outright lies to prevent the less well off to manage the size of their families. It should be noted that Mother Teresa saw no reason at all for humans to limit our rate of reproduction, a belief present in many religious ‘apologists’ due partly, I believe to her own adherence to dogma and superstitious ideas of ‘divine providence’. If this were truly the case, then there would be NO NEED for these charities to begin with.
Between she and Muggeridge, Calcutta was brutally slandered from one side with a slur to human nature (the open incomprehension that anyone would even want to step out and help those in desperate need) and from the other side, the attempted ‘solution’ was stripped from the people it was meant to be aiding and made into a self-sanctifying ‘mission’ for god. She believed that her mission was mandated by heaven but considering the letters published by the church (that she had requested be destroyed), she did not even believe in God. This moves her from being a fanatical fundamentalist to a cynical and shallow opportunist. I find myself bemused in this case that either of their statements had not been ripped to shreds by the press, but rather heralded as praise worthy for the mere fact that 50% of the discourse was from a religious figure (and the other 50% from a deluded buffoon; I will allow you to decide which is which.), soon to become an icon for conscience-easing hypocrisy.
The apparent ‘first miracle’ was utterly refuted, even by it’s own author, but this came all too late. The damage had already been done through Muggeridge’s own media circulation; it became a self-perpetuating myth of monstrous proportions. What was described as ‘Divine Light’ by Muggeridge was in actual fact thanks to a new film produced by Kodak for use in low-light conditions. This tragic lack of critical thinking, rather than exposing a fraud, had the effect of producing a huge body of preconceived opinions and has lent undeserved credence to a further four decades of needless misery for the poor of Calcutta. These people are being shamelessly and unforgivably used as a publicity brand/stunt for the catholic church. Combine this with the fact that on Christopher Hitchen’s visit to her Home for the Dying, he witnessed the nun display an air and attitude far from the humility for which she is acclaimed; “accepting kisses to her feet as if it were no more than her due“.
Even more worrying, was this discussion which itself is a telling disclosure of not only ‘Christian-values’ but also of the twisted non-logic that passed for morality in their eyes;
Muggeridge; You don’t think there’s a danger that people might mistake the means for the end, and feel that serving their fellow man was an end in itself? Do you think there’s a danger of that?
Mother Teresa; There is always the danger that we may become only social-workers or just do the work for the sake of the work…It is a danger; if we forget to whom we are doing it. Our works are only an expression for our love of Christ. Our hearts need to be full of love for him, and since we have to express that love in action, naturally the poorest of the poor are the means of expressing our love for God.
Aside from this damning conversation, which is on public record, the reputation of this woman became such that her callous and irrational remarks have been overlooked in favour of a completely artificial and ostentatious affectation of poverty and unconvincing humility. By her own words, her acts were cheapened and made both mercenary and self-congratulatory; genuine humanitarian acts of altruism are ‘dangers’ to be avoided in her view, and those she ‘serves’ are mere tools of piety for her own cause. It is a gross misconception, that her work was humane when she had so publicly confessed that she had no interest in any real practical and sustainable solution for the poor of Calcutta. Her bizarre obsession with suffering has been turned into a dangerous cult; to proselytise to, and baptise, those in dire straits and so earn a reputation as a new discipline within the church. Her filmed statements revealed this fact time and time again and if it were not for her false reputation, this woman would have been seen for the fraud and liar she was.
The Missionaries of Charity are an organisation who willingly and deliberately perpetuate the poverty and suffering of people who have had little choice in their circumstances due at least in part to their lack of education. By rectifying their involuntary ignorance, and enabling them to support themselves it would be possible for these people to lift themselves out of poverty. While the MOC are active and continue in their fraudulent portrayal their own voluntary state of poverty as some form of tool for their own ends, the problem will continue. This act seems enough to distract many from the fact that their ‘work’ serves no real purpose. Mother Teresa, however, hypocritically enjoyed comfortable and expensive hospitals while her ‘sisters’ were taught that their own medical needs were a frivolous luxury.
While millions have been poured into the Order’s accounts, Mother Teresa enjoyed flights on private jets (owned by Savings and loan Fraudster, Charles Keating) and helicopter rides to Ireland, staged trips to chemical disasters, journeys to America, Ireland and the UK (to promote the Church’s own anti-abortion, divorce and contraception campaign). The nuns in charge of banking the donations are trained to square their consciences with the flimsy non-argument that to question the highly suspicious practices of the order shows lack of trust in ‘Mother’ and pride. Exactly the ideas used in cult conditioning. The order even went so far as abandoning a housing project for the homeless in the Bronx, due to the fact that the law required a lift be put in for the disabled, is ludicrous to the extreme.
It is unnecessary false-modesty that these women display which is the worst form of conceit and arrogance as they silently gloat at and invoke the guilt of the rest of the world who choose not to adopt their entirely unnatural and artificial way of life. Heralding these misguided women only serves to distract us from the fact that they have done nothing to ease the problems of the ‘poorest of the poor’. If anything I would say that the order has exacerbated their problems. Nothing substantial has been achieved by these women while they continue to operate and maintain their branding so their sponsors can gain an easy warm-fuzzy feeling by just donating money.
Thankfully those like Susan Shields and Hemley Gonzalez, no longer fear a bad reception now that the ‘truth’ about her ‘Order’ (cult) is finally being publicly recognised as a tawdry front for the Vatican and unsubtle distraction from their far from savoury history (Darfur, Rwanda…). One visit from a Doctor Fox, documented in The Lancet in 1994 – confirmed by other volunteers -revealed that no proper tests are carried out so no real diagnoses can be made for patients, some of whom easily could easily be treated and return to society to lead a productive and fulfilling life The lack of even effective -or any- pain relief as demonstrated by Hemley Gonzalez, shows an appalling lack of empathy and consideration for the real well-being of the patients. There are still more who refuse to acknowledge the contradictions exhibited so publicly but by making this issue very public and then continuing by being very loud until our concerns are recognised by the proper authorities (NOT the church) and acted upon, hopefully we may start making some real progress.
Christianity’s denial that the physical self has any import, is dangerous to say the least but what Mother Teresa was representative of was an outright denial of reality. Her acceptance of stolen money may have been unintentional but I find it very difficult to believe that a woman capable of placing herself repeatedly so completely in the public eye and in the presence of rich, well known and often reprehensible characters was sincerely as ‘uninvolved with politics’ as she claimed herself to be. I do not swallow the convenient and obvious excuses from her hero-worship-blinded supporters that the woman was SO INNOCENT that she was unaware of who these people were well before she accepted their hospitality and then their money while lending her name and her support. The money stolen she accepted from Charles Keating was never returned to it’s rightful owners and considering how little has changed, it is very doubtful that that vast sum was ever used to solve Calcutta’s poverty issues. Even if she did not know who they were the Vatican did and hers was not an independent order; they still had to answer to the the authority of Rome and these orders do not operate without either the instruction or permission of the church.
If I were to be extremely generous in this case, I would perhaps allow one single instance of uninformed ignorance. But which one? The Vatican was open in it’s support of the Military Junta and dictatorship of Haiti. The meeting with Ronald and Nancy? Margaret Thatcher was the first female prime Minister of Great Britain (and probably that last considering the utter pigs-ear she made of it) so it is unlikely that that she was unbeknown to the church especially since by that point Mother Teresa had become their own trojan-horse.
Take into consideration how truly mind-bogglingly ridiculous it is to quite happily nurse our comfortable western consciences that ‘somebody else’ is looking after the less well off while we, the rest of the global population, who are neither starving nor destitute, psychologically absolve ourselves of any responsibility if we can physically throw enough money at the problem. It is time we all woke up and began to demand some accountability for the billions that are and have been sent to her order, The Missionaries of Charity, for the purpose of relieving poverty. It is more than about time that we began to demand from THEM why, after six decades, nothing has improved in the slightest for the ‘poorest of the poor’? The money that is being sent to them could be sent to charities who work to educate and help these people improve their own lives. It could be sent to charities whose primary aim is not to proselytise and try to persuade those who use their services that they do well to accept their lot and do nothing but wait for divine providence to come to them despite all evidence that no such thing exists.
Effective and responsible organisations.
- Doctors Without Borders
- Non-Believers Giving Aid
- Responsible Charity (Being set up)
- The Missionary Position; Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice – Christopher Hitchens