Much of the Press last week, including our local Post-Gazette, are awash with the “news” of Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, commonly referred to as Mother Teresa, is now Saint Teresa. There is a minority of the press that has taken a critical look at this pronouncement and pointed out the absurdity of this decision. The critiques are two-fold: (1) much of her work was ghastly, not saintly, and (2) the nature of sainthood, itself, is beyond the pale. I think it is worth revisiting both of these criticisms in light of the hoopla.
According to a recent article in the Huffington Post, her less than saintly behavior included
questionable relations with dictators, gross mismanagement, and actually, pretty bad medical care. … A 2013 study from the University of Ottawa dispelled the “myth of altruism and generosity” surrounding Mother Teresa, concluding that her hallowed image did not stand up to the facts, and was basically the result of a forceful media campaign from an ailing Catholic Church.
Not only was her behavior to the poor outrageous an inhumane, her path to sainthood was fixed as sainthood requires that you documenting two so-called “miracles”.
The idea is that a person worthy of sainthood must demonstrably be in heaven, actually interceding with God on behalf of those in need of healing. In Mother Teresa’s case, a woman in India whose stomach tumor disappeared and a man in Brazil with brain abscesses who awoke from a coma both credited their dramatic recovery to prayers offered to the nun after her death in 1997.
So someone in Brazil praying to Mother Teresa after her death is now evidence that she is heaven doing her magic healing from the other side.
Author and media pundit, Dan Savage, has wonderful takedown to the absurdity of the these claims at which ends with Tim Minchin’s hilarious diatribe on the religious healing of cataracts of Sam’s mum in Australia.
The story of Sam’s has but a single explanation: A surgical God who digs on magic operations. No, it couldn’t be
- mistaken attribution of causation
- Born of a coincidental temporal correlation
- Exacerbated by a general lack of education
- Vis-a-vis physics in Sam’s parish congregation
- No it couldn’t be that all these pious people are liars
- It couldn’t be an artifact of confirmation bias
- A product of groupthink,
- A mass delusion,
- An Emperor’s New Clothes-style fear of exclusion
- No, it’s more likely to be an all-powerful magician
- Than the misdiagnosis of the initial condition,
- Or one of many cases of spontaneous remission,
- Or a record-keeping glitch by the local physician
- No, the only explanation for Sam’s mum’s seeing:
- They prayed to an all-knowing superbeing …
When will the Church grow up, become an adult, and stop claiming everything they don’t understand is a miracle.