Mother Teresa’s saintly image comes under fire in new study
How has the saintly image of Mother Teresa managed to survive largely intact in this age of such intense media scrutiny?
Three Canadian academics tackled this thorny question in a new article in the journal Studies in Religion
“Everyone who thinks of altruism thinks immediately of Mother Teresa,” says Geneviève Chénard, explaining why she and her co-authors decided to undertake this study.
The researchers — Chénard and Serge Larivée of l’Université de Montréal and Carola Sénéchal of the University of Ottawa — examined 287 documents about the Albanian nun who died at age 87 in 1997.
Mother Teresa, who founded the Kolkata-based Missionaries of Charity, an order of nuns that has expanded to 123 countries, has been beatified by the Vatican, one step short of sainthood.
Mother Teresa with Pope John Paul II at the Home of the Dying in Calcutta, India, in February 1986.
According to the study, the unassailable image of Mother Teresa appeals to the collective imagination looking to help the dying and the poor. It feeds a need in people to have someone to look up to. For the church, it also helps promote Roman Catholic religious values.
Mother Teresa’s beatification process was also the fastest in the history of the Catholic Church, the study says.
One of the key steps in that beatification: A non-Christian woman in India woke up on the first anniversary of Mother Teresa’s death to find her abdominal tumour had disappeared. Members of the Missionaries of Charity has prayed for Mother Teresa’s help. Pope John Paul II recognized this as a miracle.
Mother Teresa, awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997, has been the subject of 153 hagiographies from 1948 until 2011 and only six balanced biographies, the study says.
Largely unexamined have been questions about how millions in donations were spent, the hygiene and lack of care in her hospices and why the woman herself supported corrupt regimes such as the Duvaliers in Haiti.
AntiTheist and journalist Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011) investigates whether Mother Teresa of Calcutta deserves her saintly image. He probes her campaigns against contraception and abortion and her questionable relationships with right-wing political leaders.
If Someone Secretly Controlled What You Say, Would Anyone Notice? 2014 10 01
The subject enters a room in which a 12-year-old boy is seated. A 20-minute conversation ensues. The subject quizzes the boy about current events and other topics to get a sense of his intelligence and personality. But the boy is not what he appears to be.
Unbeknownst to the subject, the boy is wearing a radio receiver in his ear, and ...
Can holding a magnet against your head help defeat depression? 2014 10 01
Former GP Sue Mildred suffered from crippling depression and anxiety for 20 years.
On two occasions it was so severe that she ended up in hospital, and for 15 years she was unable to work.
Sue, 51, has tried antidepressants, talking therapies and, out of desperation, even ECT (electro-convulsive therapy), where an electric current is passed through the brain.
This did ...
Extremists to have Facebook and Twitter vetted by anti-terror police 2014 09 30 Theresa May to announce new Extremist Disruption Orders to strengthen counter-terrorism if the Tories win the next general election
Extremists will have to get posts on Facebook and Twitter approved in advance by the police under sweeping rules planned by the Conservatives.
They will also be barred from speaking at public events if they represent a threat to “the functioning of democracy”, ...
Scottish Independence: Protesters demand revote 2014 09 30
Pro-independence campaigners gathered outside the Scottish Parliament for the second day in a row, this time to demand a revote of the September 18 referendum.
While yesterday’s “Rally For A Revote” saw the return of Saltires and Yes banners to Holyrood, it did not match the turnout for the “Voice Of The People” rally held on Saturday, when up 3000 people ...