Monday, September 05, 2016

The Fraudulent Case of Saint Teresa

Mother Teresa is a rock star. Her reputation is that of one of sacrifice and a life dedicated to the poor and the good. If you scratch the surface of the products of her life though, you would open a window into someone who dined with despots, praised warmongering dictators, and humbly received tens of millions of dollars in gifts in the name of the poor, only to have about 7% of those dollars actually trickling down to the ones in need. Her scandalous promotion to "Saint"makes me want to nominate Don Vito Corleone. He was a good Catholic too and at least the people in his neighborhood actually loved him.

CRIMINALLY FRIENDLY

Mother Teresa claimed many friends. From the Royal Family of the United Kingdom to our own conservative hero, Ronald Reagan. All lined up to shake hands and took their turn in line as she embarrassingly received offering after offering just so they could hear a few words of wisdom from such a pure and holy woman.

Among those, you could count Jean-Claude Duvalier in the early 1980s. Jean-Claude, before his overthrow in 1986 was the dictator of  Haiti, beginning in 1971. Before fleeing his country to exile in France, thousands of his citizens were killed or tortured, and hundreds of thousands fled the country in fear. While he lived a life of luxury, making millions in the drug trade and selling body parts from dead Haitians to medical schools overseas, poverty among his people was considered the most widespread of any country in the western hemisphere. He was apparently an okay guy to our newly appointed saint, who in 1981 flew to Haiti to accept the "Legion d'Honneur" award, and receive a quick donation(from embezzled funds from the state). In return, she showed her gratitude with public statements of support. She praised Duvalier as "loving their poor" and that "their love was reciprocated". Her testimony on their behalf was shown on  state-owned television for weeks.

The other questionable friend I will mention was Charles Keating. He was a Catholic fundamentalist who would become famous for his role in the Saving and Loan scandal of the late 80s, where he was convicted of fraud, racketeering and conspiracy for his involvement in a scam which cost the federal government an estimated $3 billion dollars and left 23,000 customer with worthless junk bonds, many losing their entire life savings. Keating donated millions to Mother Teresa as well as unfettered use of his private jet when she was in the United States. As he was awaiting sentencing, she wrote a letter on his behalf asking for clemency. In the prosecuting attorneys own words in response to this letter; "No church...should allow itself to be used as salve for the conscience of the criminal." He also pointed out the money he donated was stolen money, and pleaded for her to do the right thing and give the money back to whom it rightfully belonged: "You have been given money by Mr. Keating that he has been convicted of stealing by fraud. Do not permit him the 'indulgence' he desires. Do not keep the money. Return it to those who worked for it and earned it!" Saint Teresa never replied to this letter.

Keating and Duvalier are just two examples(among countless others) that illustrate the level of filth Mother Teresa actively advocated for and called friends.

FOLLOW THE MONEY

The question then goes to, "okay, well at least she could do some good with the money regardless where it comes from, right?" Man that would be almost acceptable except that just wasn't the case.

While she received untold millions of dollars from despots, criminals and what you would call legitimate royalty, the money never actually trickled down to those who needed it. Independent accountants trace the lion's share of the funds(92-93 percent) was spent two ways. It was either for the founding of more nunneries, over a five hundred counted, to train more female personnel in the dogma of the Church or the cash went straight back to Vatican City itself. That left almost nothing to actually help any of the poverty stricken people that she was championed for.

You would think that given her well-funded programs, that she would make the places she represented better than when she left it. But one consistent theme was the complete lack of improvements where money was donated.

In one particular nursery, noted writer Christopher Hitchens asked where specifically $25,000 dollars went that was raised a few months prior to an official visit. The contributions was given on the pretense of buying cribs, diapers, formula and medicine. The nursery was exactly the same months after receiving this money.
According to Hitchens:

"The sister in charge said something to the effect that they had to give the money to the main MC(Missionaries of Charity) office-or something like that. They never saw a penny of it. One of the babies died during our visit-of starvation. He could have been saved very easily."

DEPLORABLE CONDITIONS

Saint Teresa was mainly known as nursemaid and "helper of the poor", with her hospice Home for Dying Destitutes in Calcutta serving as her flagship station all run by her Missionaries of Charity order, which she established in 1950. Despite routinely receiving millions of dollars, what is shocking is how criminally ill equipped the clinics were as well as how untrained the staff was.

The best you could say the clinics were rudimentary and haphazard, and at worst they were unsanitary and dangerous. There are many accounts, directly from volunteers that have testified to the inadequate care for the dying. No proper beds, just lines of cots on a dirt floor. No tests were performed to determine ailments, thereby no separating contagious patients. No modern medical equipment was available. Needles were constantly reused without proper sterilization, which led to her nuns spreading AIDS and hepatitis. Toilets were used as a cleaning source. No visits by friends or relatives. Patients were restricted to their cots and no excessive movements were permitted.

Multiple journalists noted that there were many patients, in these "Houses of Dying" that Mother Teresa herself called them, that had curable, treatable diseases. Questions of transporting these patients were consistently rebuffed. Reasons given ranged from "well, they all might want to be cured" to in Mother Teresa's chilling own words; "their pain brings me closer to God."

MOTIVATION OF OTHER'S PAIN

People suffering from terrible, painful diseases such as cancer were not given painkillers or anything stronger than aspirin. There were multiple instances of Saint Teresa's wish to keep poor in their place of suffering. Her main priority was to convert the sick and poor to her religious dogma(and use them as a fundraising source).  Providing for the care and needs of the poor was not at all part of her program. In her own words:

"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. "

On another occasion, Teresa told a terminal cancer patient, who was dying of extreme pain, that he should consider himself fortunate, because: "You are suffering like Christ on the cross. So Jesus must be kissing you". She then freely related his reply, which she seemed to not realize was a passive rebuke: "Then please tell him to stop kissing me."

Ex-nun Kelly Dunham who worked directly with Mother Teresa in a convent in New York, was troubled by her experiences. She says that the thing that Mother Teresa should be accountable for is the "cult of suffering" that she has created. Kelly was moved by the pain and misery of the residents, but angered by her instructions on how to deal with it.

    "One of the goals of Missionaries of Charity is to love people but one of the things
we were instructed to do is cut ourselves off from loving people."

"They are in the business of alleviating suffering, but I think that they believe a lot IN suffering, and it's really tough to do both at the same time."

Most neutral observers of her activities found a troubling "Cult of Suffering" in Mother Teresa's activities. As she stated earlier, "their pain brings me closer to God." It seems clear that she was motivated by the religious conviction that keeping others in a poverty stricken, painful state was essential to her own spirituality. It should be noted when her own health started to fail, she spared no expense in getting the best possible medicines and kept her last days as comfortable as possible. I guess her "great sacrifice" was fostering millions(yes millions) of others to suffer so she wouldn't have to.

HERO? I DON'T THINK SO

Mother Teresa was a great Catholic. Vatican City loves her. She promoted the Church and its principles(especially its views on contraception) better than even some popes in the past hundred years. Her timing in being canonized couldn't be better for the Catholic Church who is seeing their numbers plummet due to being turned off by its Bronze Age values in modern times(never mind its pederast scandal) and need a hero to bounce back from a PR nightmare. 

I just wonder if the average person actually knows what she was all about before cheering for their new saint, because as Hitchens said, either Fanatic, Fundamentalist, or Fraud all seem more appropriate.

*Quotes and information was taken from various sources including; Christopher Hitchens "Hells Angel" documentary, Penn and Teller's BS series, and various articles from Patheos and Huffington Post. Any opinions interpreted are my own.