Mother Teresa and the Cult of Suffering

TeresaMother Teresa has been canonized today.

The new saint’s record is more complicated than either her critics or her fans like to acknowledge, but this balanced piece by Mari Marcel Thekaekara in the Guardian is worth a look.

Towards the end, Thekaekara, a formerly fierce critic of Mother Teresa, concedes this – and understandably so:

I cannot in conscience criticise a woman who picked people off filthy pavements to allow them to die in dignity.

But it does appear that Mother Teresa was one of those Christians who subscribe to the morbid idea that suffering is some sort of blessing (I’ve posted about this phenomenon here, here, here and here).


Mother Teresa didn’t deserve Christopher Hitchen’s unadulterated, poisonous vitriol. But her vintage, “There’s something beautiful in seeing the poor accept their lot, to suffer it like Christ’s Passion,” left me fuming too. How dare she trivialise poverty? But she could. She did. And the world lapped it up. She once comforted a sufferer, with the line: “You are suffering, that means Jesus is kissing you.” The infuriated man screamed, “Then tell your Jesus to stop kissing me.”

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3 Responses to Mother Teresa and the Cult of Suffering

  1. Ye Merry Uncucker says:

    “Mother Teresa’s” (not her real name) “ain’t suffering grand” schtick is a Catholic thing.

    The Mother Teresa myth was nothing more than a decades-long Catholic PR stunt.

  2. Bruce Fisher says:

    Okay! I’m atheist, I spent a lifetime in a police force, it was there expected one learned to be critical, observant, clear and free thinking and to be an unbiased investigator! yet I remember high ranking officers in a catholic church criss-crossing themselves in support of NOTHING! no gods, no heavens, no hells, and therefore NO saints, religion is the worlds most heinous LIE! How can there ever be societies who all get on together? have a good life???

  3. Dain says:

    Giving a leper food and shelter is kind. Denying them antibiotics and prolonging their suffering is not. I’m not sure which side of that divide Mother Teresa mostly falls on.

    Coyne has more (pretty damming stuff) on her here:

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