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Article published March 14, 2013
Teresa loved humanity
John Grenci Butler
A recent Canadian study has stated some unflattering things, to say the least, about Mother Teresa. Kimberly Schupp-Miller stated this: “The researchers mentioned ‘her dubious way of caring for the sick, her questionable political affiliations and her overly dogmatic views about contraception, abortion and divorce. . . .’ “The study even went on to claim that Mother Teresa found it beautiful to see the poor suffer.” I am not going to pick each of those things apart, but will make a few comments. Anybody can make someone else look bad, even Mother Teresa. Heck, lawyers frame things all the time to influence people. Perception becomes reality. All of us are human. All of us have flaws. Even humanitarians can fall short of society’s expectations of them, and their expectations of themselves. So, let us take a step back here and look at the objective evidence. Mother Teresa dedicated her life to caring for the poorest of the poor. Did she make perfect judgments along the way? Nobody does. One of the chief complaints about her was that she did not use the millions of dollars that her foundation raised to help the dying. The quote “found it beautiful to see the poor suffer” makes it sound as if she wanted that to happen. Nobody (only God) truly knows what went through her mind, but my guess is that her “focus,” for lack of a better word, was on comforting the dying. Unfortunately, most of them were dying anyway. Maybe she felt that using the time and energy on comforting 100 dying people was better than saving five of them. Again, nobody knows. Further, this was a response to a question that asked, “Do you teach the poor to endure their lot?” She did not say that she taught the poor to endure their lot. She seemed to be saying that many poor are acting as Christ would want them to. There are many millions of poor, homeless people. She knew that even with the money she raised, there was a limited amount that she could do. Yes, she probably could have saved some people who ultimately died. Did she want them to die? Of course not. But she knew that many would, and her life was dedicated to comforting those who were likely dying. She started with 13 members in Calcutta and it eventually grew to more than 4,000 sisters running orphanages, AIDS hospices, charity centers, etc. Do people think she gave it all to the Catholic Church? Did she mismanage her money? Perhaps. But she was not a business woman. If anyone wants to say she could have had better judgment with the money her charity raised, fine. I am not in agreement with that statement, but it is reasonable. But the way some in the media and some writers are spinning this, it’s that she was far from a saint. She did not do her work for fame or money. She was committed to following Christ’s teaching, and was about as nonwavering as the North Star when it came to her unconditional love for humanity.