Does Mother Teresa deserve to be a saint?


Fact Box

  • Mother Teresa was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu on August 26, 1910, in Skopje, Macedonia, and died September 5, 1997, in Calcutta, India, at the age of 87. 
  • Upon joining the Irish Order Sisters of Loreto when she was 18, she was given the name Sister Teresa after Saint Thérèse de Lisieux.
  • On September 4, 2016, Pope Francis declared Mother Teresa a saint, canonizing her as St. Teresa of Calcutta.
  • Officially trademarked by the Missionaries of Charity, Mother Teresa and her nuns’ saris have much significance. “The color of their sari--white--stands for truth and purity while the three blue borders each signify the vows that the nuns of the Order take: the first band represents Poverty, the second Obedience, and the third broad band represents the vows of Chastity and of Wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor. The Cross worn on the left shoulder symbolizes that, for the Missionaries of Charity, Jesus on the Cross is the key to the heart.”

Lori (Yes)

Does Mother Teresa deserve to be a Saint? Of course! Aside from having won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, she was uniquely and tremendously successful 'in serving and promoting the Catholic faith worldwide in the second half of the 20th century,' as sociologist Gëzim Alpion points out.   

Additionally, the people loved her, as--according to the BBC--by July 1999, a 'huge mailbag' of requests for her canonization had been received by the Vatican. 

However, it isn't just adoration that qualifies someone for sainthood--a candidate must also be proven to perform genuine 'curative miracles' after their death. The Catholic Church's Congregation for the Causes of Saints, as well as a committee of medical specialists, examine each claim to determine if a “recovery fell outside the laws of nature with no scientific explanation.' In Mother Teresa's case, she was proven to have interceded from beyond to heal two separate people: one with brain abscesses and another with an abdominal tumor. 

Mother Teresa's journey to sainthood began when she founded the Order of the Missionaries of Charity in 1950 with the express purpose of 'spread[ing] the call for help and care of the less fortunate in the community.' Once made a saint, Pope Francis summed up her life's work by saying she 'had defended the unborn, sick and abandoned, and had shamed world leaders for the 'crimes of poverty they themselves created.''

Regarded as a 'mother to the poor,' especially because of her time spent in the slums of Calcutta, where she visited families and washed and cared for the sick and dying, she served Jesus by serving the 'the unwanted, the unloved, the uncared for.' Mother Teresa was the modern definition of a saint.  

Mark (No)

Mother Teresa was no saint. Firstly, as revealed by a University of Ottawa study from 2013, out of the 517 missions overseen by Mother Teresa at the time of her death, there is little evidence to support that any of them provided proper medical care to their sick. Reportedly, 'Doctors observed unhygienic, 'even unfit,' conditions, inadequate food, and no painkillers.' Further, Mother Teresa's views on poverty were essentially to purify it as a religious privilege, as she was once quoted as saying, 'There is something beautiful in seeing the poor accept their lot, to suffer it like Christ's Passion. The world gains much from their suffering.' 

Of course, there is also the allocation of funds distributed to accounts linked to Mother Teresa. In the form of donations, these funds were never officially documented as being solely directed to the intended recipients. And even in the instances where contributions were found to have gone to the ailing, very little was utilized. And those who did come to Mother Teresa for assistance often had Christianity forced upon them in exchange for her help. In 2015, The Times Of India reported about her, ' the name of service, conversions were made.'

Then there was the incident in 2018 where a nun and an employee of one of Mother Teresa's charity homes for unmarried mothers were arrested for child trafficking. Authorities traced the operation back to 2015 but continue to investigate any activity prior to this. Though there is no direct evidence, speculation looms over whether Mother Teresa was directly involved with the activity.

With such a questionable legacy, Mother Teresa was not the saint the world believed her to be.

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