Mother Teresa

From: Sarah Lawrence (
Date: Tue May 30 2000 - 09:54:22 MDT

At 2:46pm +1000 on 2000/05/30, Emlyn quoted:

>Daniel Ust (or Damien Broderick hacking his account) wrote:
>> > Every Mother Theresa after the first (at any point, the "marginal"
>> > Theresa) adds something (even if only a little) to society; a net

>> Given Mother Theresa openly _professed_ views on human suffering -- about
>> its necessity; i.e., the necessity of it in the form of the stifling
>> and rampant disease in Third World countries and not in the sense of, say,
>> needing a little adversity to make us stronger -- I'd think there's a high
>> cost associated with even one Mother Theresa. If ever there was a
>> that seems almost out of a Rand novel, it is her.

Yes, I think that Mother Teresa was a deeply unpleasant, immoral human
being and I can think of no ways in which she added anything to the
world, except perhaps as an example of what not to do, how *not* to
live. I find it frightening that so many people -- even otherwise sane
people -- think that she was a good person, or dare not say otherwise.
There appears to be a taboo against speaking out against people like
Mother Teresa. Perhaps it is the taboo against criticising religious

Delete now if you'll be offended by strong criticism of this "saint".

Mother Teresa was a conservative Catholic who supported the evil
Pope's hard line on abortion, contraception, divorce, women priests,
and generally had very bad ideas about women. A woman's highest
virtue was to do her duty to the church and her husband -- to be a
"good" wife and mother and to serve the Catholic church.

She built up and ran an international corporation using slave
labour. It was not slave labour in the *legal* sense, of course, but
the psychological reality was precisely that of slave labour. She
chose India as her base and got many young girls for her convents.
Those young girls/women were not there voluntarily in the
psychological sense, they were there because their parents put
enormous psychological pressure on them to become nuns. Mother T had
a hideously austere set of rules for them, summed up by chastity,
obedience and suchlike, and that meant obedience to the church,
i.e., her. (One wonders what happened when chastity and obedience
came into conflict. I'll bet it was chastity that got sacrificed.)

She got off on playing the part of the ministering angel, and chose
to save the souls of the lowest of the low -- the people who were
dying. The problem is that she was not interested in *curing*
anyone. An English nurse actually left after Mother Teresa had
refused to help a child who would certainly have lived had he had a
course of antibiotics. Her response was that it was irrelevant
because he was going to meet God anyway! She wasn't interested in
the living or potentially living, only the dying, and she was only
interested in the dying for her own selfish pleasure in getting off
on playing the ministering angel. She wasn't interested in helping
them to get better, only to save their souls.

She betrayed the dying too. What she was doing was incompatible with
having moral relationships with people. When you develop a
relationship with someone, you thereby acquire an obligation to
treat that person differently from how you might treat a complete
stranger. A parent who has a child adopted at birth does not raise
obligations to that child, but a parent who chooses to parent does
thereby raise an obligation to the children she chooses to bring up.
To the extent that Mother Teresa developed relationships with people
in her care, she was acting immorally in not using the available
money to treat them where that would have made a difference to
whether they live or die, for example.

In her own case, when she got sick, she took herself straight to the
best heart specialist in New York. There is nothing wrong with that!
It was right for her to spend that money on curing herself, but it
was wrong of her not to find a few dollars for a course of
antibiotics to save a sick child with whom she had developed a

The logic of Mother Teresa's organisation was such as not to allow
her to spend extra money on helping to cure anyone, let alone
improve his or her life -- all she did was to minister to the dying.
So Mother Teresa was giving the dying the impression that she cared
but in fact she didn't. *Had* she cared, her whole organisation
would have collapsed overnight, because when you care about someone,
you want to save their lives if you can, even if that means spending
less money on ministering to others (whom you do not know). When you
have a relationship with someone, it is wrong to betray that person
by sacrificing him or her to the idea of "fairness" or "equality"
(as in "everyone must suffer equally" -- see my editorial in the
journal Taking Children Seriously -- TCS 23, entitled "Against
Sharing Equally", also published by the Libertarian Alliance --
Philosophical Notes 52, 1998, two pages, ISBN 1 85637 431 9). Doing
the right thing for those with whom she had a relationship would
have reduced the money for ministering to the others, and her whole
agenda was to save souls, not help anyone improve their lives (or
even live).

She could have had Munchhausen's Syndrome by Proxy or whatever it is
called -- the thing where the person (nurse, etc) gives herself a
role by making people die or nearly die, so she can then play the
ministering angel. The only difference between this evil and that of
Mother T is that she never had to take any murderous actions because
there was a steady supply of dying people, it being Calcutta.

That's another thing -- why Calcutta? Why not somewhere even poorer?
There are places in Africa that make Calcutta look like a rich
place. So why didn't she want to be in *those* places?

So -- my main criticism is that all her relationships with those
whose souls she saved, were immoral. She betrayed them. She also did
everything she could to oppose the progress in terms of women's
place in society.

She may be a saint (the Pope liked her anyway) but IMO she was evil.

Sarah Lawrence <sl at TCS dot ac>
Editor, Taking Children Seriously journal
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