Mother Teresa 'Anything but a Saint,' Says Study

It says she glorified suffering instead of easing it

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 6, 2013 10:04 AM CST | Updated Mar 10, 2013 4:00 PM CDT

(Newser) – Was Mother Teresa overhyped? That's what a controversial Canadian study is alleging. The paper, published in the French-language religious journal Religieuses, argues that Teresa was "anything but a saint," and even found beauty in watching people suffer, the Times of India reports. Doctors who visited some of Teresa's "homes for the dying" reported terrible conditions, saying they were bereft of hygiene and exhibited a paucity of food, painkillers, and actual medical treatment, the study alleges. Those conditions weren't for lack of resources, because Teresa's Order of the Missionaries of Charity raised hundreds of millions of dollars. Teresa got her own care from a modern American hospital.

The paper argues that the Vatican deliberately crafted Teresa's saintly image and rushed her beatification—she's credited with a miraculous healing that doctors say was a result of simple medicine. The authors add that Teresa undoubtedly inspired countless humanitarian workers to help the underprivileged; they just wish the media coverage about her was "a little more rigorous." But while the study is sure to be controversial, the Week points out that the late Christopher Hitchens had lodged similar complaints, and Keith Wagstaff writes that it probably won't do serious damage to her legacy. (Click to read about the 19th-century nun who healed a Colorado Springs boy in 1999.)

Nuns of Missionaries of Charity sing a hymn as a portrait of Mother Teresa hangs from a balcony during a congregation to mark her death anniversary in Kolkata, India, Sept. 5, 2011.
Nuns of Missionaries of Charity sing a hymn as a portrait of Mother Teresa hangs from a balcony during a congregation to mark her death anniversary in Kolkata, India, Sept. 5, 2011.   (AP Photo/Bikas Das)
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