Mother Teresa: Myth, miracle and reality

Religion aside, a rationalist’s point of view on Mother Teresa and the sainthood
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By Sanal Edamaruku

India, especially Calcutta, is seen as the main beneficiary of Mother Teresa’s legendary ‘good work’ for the poor that made her the most famous Catholic of our times. Evaluating what she has actually done here, I think, India has no reason to be grateful to her.
Mother Teresa has given a bad name to Calcutta, painting the beautiful, interesting, lively and culturally rich Indian metropolis in the colors of dirt, misery, hopelessness and death. Styled into the big gutter, it became the famous backdrop for her very special charitable work. Her order is only one among more than 200 charitable organizations, which tryto help the slum-dwellers of Calcutta to build a better future. It is locally not very visible or active. But tall claimslike the absolutely baseless story of her slum school for 5000 children have brought enormous internationalpublicity to her institutions. And enormous donations!


The most important of the bundled paranormal claims is the miracle, which Teresa has allegedly done on her first death anniversary. At least one proven after-death-miracle is a mustfor any saint. Teresa’s managers have offeredthe “Healing of Monica Besra” for this purpose and the Vatican has officially accepted it as a suitable ticket to sainthood. But unexpectedly the miracle has met with a tough challenge. Stripped off the veil of holiness, it looks like a rough-cut fake.
Catholic church needs”miracles” to declare people as saints. They. made Mother Teresa a saint because one Monica Besra’s ovarian tumor disappeared “miraculously” when she placed a picture of Mother Teresa on the abdomen and prayed.Itis a classical scam.Monica Besra’s ovarian tumor was not cured by the supernatural powers of Mother as the Catholic Church claimed. The Missionaries of Charity insisted it was. The Vatican has approved the story officially as a first-class miracle.Medical records clearly prove that it was sheer conventional medical treatment that rescued her life.The case of the miracle makers won’t stand in front of any real test. Their witnesses have vowed to keep mum, not to contradict each other. Their certifiers are anonymous and untraceable. Their proof is obviously faked. And to top it all: their crown witness hasvanished!.


The miracle documentation of the Catholic Church claims that several doctors have certified that the healing was “scientifically inexplicable”, but not a single of these anonymous witnesses could so far be traced. The former health minister of West Bengal, Partho De, reveled  that he had been approached by the Vatican agents and asked to name a doctor, who would certify that Monica Besra’s healing was a miracle. He declined support. After ordering the medical records of the case in February 2000 for scrutiny to the Kolkata (Calcutta) health department, he was convinced that there was nothing unusual about the disappearance of the tumor after prolonged medical treatment.Knitting her saintly cowl with relentless efforts, the miracle agents of the Vatican under the leadership of chief investigator Brian Kolodiejchuk have identified several hundred examples for Mother Teresa’s supernatural capacities.On the basis of this report, the Albanian born nun entered in annals of saints as the speediest one in the history of the Catholic Church.


Heart piece of the Vatican’s “proof” is a statement of crown witness Monica Besra. It leaked, despite utmost secrecy, to the press. In this statement,Besra describes that she was suffering from terrible pain from a giant tumor in her stomach and nearly lostall hope. She left her family to seek help withthe Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata. On 5October, 1998, Mother Teresa’s first death anniversary, she prayed to her ardently. Two nuns, sister Bartholomea and sister Ann Sevika, took a silver medallion with Mother’s picture from the wall and tied it on Monica’s body with a black thread, right on the tumor. The pain vanished the same night and never came back. Her stomach became smaller and smaller and in the morning she felt that the tumor had vanished. She was miraculously healed !
The reality was different. Dr. Manju Murshed, superintendent of the government hospital in Balurghat, informed that Monica Besra was admitted in the hospitalwith severe pain. She suffered from tubercular meningitis and from an ovarian tumor, which was discovered during an ultra-sound investigation. She was subsequently treated by Dr.Tarun Kumar Biwas and the gynecologist Dr. Ranjan Mustafi.
After she left the hospital, the treatment was continued in the North Bengal Medical Collegeand Hospital and endedsuccessfully in March 1999. A final ultra-sound investigation showed that the tumor had disappeared.


Monica Besra is a tribal woman from Dulidnapur village. She is illiterate and speaks her tribal mother tongue only, laced with a few words of broken Bengali. Until recently she has not been a Christian. The statement is written in fluent English and shows familiarity with details of Catholic belief. It is obvious that the text has not been written or dictated by her. But Monica Besra is not available to bring light into the murky story: she has vanished.
She must be “under the protection of the church”, suspect those close to her. She was not seen, since her name, despite all efforts of secrecy, became public. And the nuns involved in the miracle keep their lips sealed. “An objective miracle has happened”, explains archbishop D’Souza of Kolkata. “The sisters don’t want to give different versions as that would spoil things.”


If this obvious fraud is not brought to book and if the idea of miraculous healing getscredence, it will have dangerous consequences for the uneducated and the poor.Confidence in modern medicine and science has to be developed and strengthened and people have to be encouraged to use available medical facilities for treatment instead of taking to superstition and miracle belief. The efforts should be to expand the outreach of the modern medicine to all strata of the society.


The legend of her Homes for the Dying has moved the world totears. Reality, however,is scandalous: In the overcrowded and primitive little homes, many patients have to share a bed with others.
Though there are many suffering from tuberculosis, AIDS and other highly infectious illnesses, hygiene is no concern. The patients are treated with good words and insufficient (sometimes outdated) medicines, applied withold needles, washed in lukewarm water. One can hear the screams of people having maggots tweezered from their open wounds without pain relief. On principle, strong painkillers are even in hard cases not given.
According to Mother Teresa’s bizarrephilosophy, it is “the most beautiful gift for a person that he can participate in the sufferings of Christ”.
Once she tried to comfort a screaming sufferer: “You are suffering, that means Jesus is kissing you!” The suffering ones should answer the patrons of charity business: “Tell your Jesus to stop kissing.”


When Mother Teresa received the Nobel Peace Price, she used the opportunity of her worldwide telecast speech in Oslo to declare abortion the greatest evil in the world and to launch a fiery call against population control.
Her charitable work, she admitted, was only partof her big fight against abortion and population control. This fundamentalist positionis a slap in the face of India and other Third World Countries, wherepopulation control is one of the main keys for development and progress and social transformation. Do we have to be grateful to Mother Teresa for leading this worldwide propagandist fight against population control, one of the mosteffective ways to end poverty, with the money she collected in the name of the poor?


Mother Teresa did not serve the poor in Calcutta, she served the rich in the West. She helped them to overcome their bad conscience by taking billions of Dollars from them. Some of her donors were dictators and criminals, who tried to white wash their dirty vests.
Mother Teresa revered them for a price. Most of her supporters, however, were honest people with good intentions and a warm heart, who fall for the illusion that the “Saint of the Gutter” was there to wipe awayall tears and end all misery and undo all injustice in the world. Those in love with an illusion often refuse to see reality.

Sanal Edamaruku is an author and rationalist, and the founder-president of Rationalist International.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this articles are the personal opinions of the author. 1manatheist is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability or validity of any information in this article. The information,facts or opinions appearing in this article do not reflect the views of 1manatheist and 1manatheist does not assume any liability on the same.

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3 thoughts on “Mother Teresa: Myth, miracle and reality

  1. Well said. The unfortunate patients under Theresa’s supervision were refused pain relief, babies were left unfed and uncared for when nurses were forced to attend prayer sessions, and Catholic last rites were given against dying patients own wishes. Yet she herself traveled to Europe for the best medical care when she needed it. That this woman received a Nobel Peace Prize is scandalous.


  2. Narayan Singh

    O.K., But i think she is far better than self acclaimed saints and gods of hindu origin like Asha Ram,Ramdeo etc. of present breed.Superstitions and dogmas (and even the existence of god) of every religion should not be acceptable. It is the service of mankind that should matter and here the mother may be regarded far ahead.


  3. Pingback: Miracles of Mother Teresa: Why is she becoming a saint? | Sikandar Kumar Mehta

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