Sunday, July 09, 2006

Saints and horrors

Butterflies and Wheels talks about that sanctimonious horror, Mother Teresa:

It has come to my attention that this business of 'Mother' Teresa's being a horrible nightmare instead of the tiny little saint she's cracked up to be is not common knowledge. Well I knew that, but it's not common knowledge even among the kind of warped, twisted people who read B&W; that I didn't know. I should have realized though. It's meme stuff. The phrase 'Mother Teresa' is a kind of pop culture synonym for self-sacrificing altruism, and the corrections of that illusion get drowned out as a result. So let's get to work and spread the counter-meme, shall we? She was a horror.

In the words of Christopher Hitchens:

In other words it's pretty much like the state of indulgences in the Middle Ages. The bulk of humanity is described as a bunch of miserable sinners condemned to everlasting hell unless they’ve got the price of a pardon, which they can purchase at the nearest papacy. [...] They simply do not judge her reputation by her actions. They consistently do the reverse and judge her actions by her reputation.

[...] religious figures are given this sort of special pass on credulity. It's either consciously or subconsciously assumed that a person of the cloth actually has better morals. There's precious little evidence of this; there’s a great deal of evidence to the contrary, in fact. But somehow it’s still considered—especially in a country like America which suffers from a sort of mediocre version of multiculturalism—a possibly offensive thing to suggest.

Mother Teresa was friend to dictators like Albania's Enver Hoxha and Haiti's Duvalier family. She fawned over thieves like Charles Keating. She committed false witness over the state of Calcutta. She collected millions of dollars -- maybe billions, only the Catholic Church knows for sure and they aren't telling -- in charity for the poor of Calcutta, and yet when she died, the hospices and orphanages were no better off than when she had first arrived. She was a hypocrite and a liar and did far more harm than good to the people of Calcutta.

And she is sure to declared a saint as her reward for decades of selling indulgences for the Catholic Church.

See also the Wikipedia article on her.

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