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Mother Teresa Was Kind of a Heartless Bitch

Mother Teresa has been beatified by the Catholic Church, but she's no saint—in more ways than one.
Mother Teresa at a pro-life meeting. Photos via Wikimedia Commons

Before Carly Fiorina, before the fraudulent Planned Parenthood videos, there was Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Thanks to the Catholic church's propaganda, we remember the nun as a modern saint, but history tells a different story.

Catholics have ignored these claims for generations. To this day, the church and its followers love Mother Teresa fervently: A reported 300,000 people showed up to the Vatican to see Pope John Paul II beatify her (the first step to making a dead person a saint).


Before her death in 1997, the nun gained her cult following through opening 517 missions, many in Calcutta, the capital of India's West Bengal state; however, allegations of financial and medical corruption have plagued Teresa's missions for at least two decades. Serge Larivée and Genevieve Chenard, of University of Montreal's Department of Psychoeducation, and Carole Sénéchal of the University of Ottawa, published a paper in 2012 detailing Teresa's crimes: When doctors visited her missions, they reportedly discovered that one-third of patients "lay dying without receiving appropriate care."

The same paper claims that doctors found a shortage of care, food, and painkillers, although Teresa had raised millions of dollars. Slate also found that Teresa brought in tons of money, but her missionaries looked as bad when she founded them as they did after her death. (During her own illness, Teresa fled to California clinics, Slate reports.) The conditions in her missions were so dire, in fact, that they were once compared to photographs of "Nazi Germany's Bergen-Belsen concentration camp."

When confronted about these allegations, according to Christopher Hitchens, Mother Teresa said, "There is something beautiful in seeing the poor accept their lot, to suffer it like Christ's Passion. The world gains much from their suffering."

If there was one group that Teresa avidly wanted to protect from suffering, it was fetuses. According to New York Times, Mother Teresa used her Nobel Prize acceptance speech to speak out against abortion. ''To me, the nations with legalized abortion are the poorest nations," she said. "The greatest destroyer of peace today is the crime against the unborn child.'' (Research shows that abortion happens with the same frequency whether or not it is legal; however, women are 34 times more likely to die from abortion in countries where the procedure is restricted.)

In 1994, Teresa traveled to Washington, DC, where she delivered a speech at the National Prayer Breakfast with President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore in the audience. In this address, she insisted that opposing abortion is as important as preventing child starvation. "Many people are very, very concerned with the children of India, with the children of Africa where quite a few die of hunger, and so on," she said. "Many people are also concerned about all the violence in this great country of the United States. These concerns are very good. But often these same people are not concerned with the millions who are being killed by the deliberate decision of their own mothers. And this is what is the greatest destroyer of peace today—abortion which brings people to such blindness."

That same year, journalists Christopher Hitchens and Tariq Ali created a television documentary called Hell's Angel about Mother Teresa, in which Hitchens accused her of being "a demagogue, an obscurantist and a servant of earthly powers" who would rather denounce abortion and contraception than help the poor. According to the Washington Post, the film also details the nun's close friendships with Charles Keating, a financier who became notorious for his involvement in the 1990s savings and loan crisis, and Jean-Claude Duvalier, the Haitian dictator known as Baby Doc, best known for his reputation of kidnapping and torturing people. Although her missions looked impoverished, Teresa allegedly took money from both these men, who ruined thousands, if not millions, of people's lives.

Throughout the following decades, Mother Teresa went on to encourage countries and politicians to support dangerous ancient morals. She urged Ireland to vote against a bill allowing divorce in 1995, and the following year she called Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole to thank him for helping ban some late-term abortions. When wearing AIDS ribbons became trendy, she bragged about helping victims—although she hates condoms, which would have saved countless lives. That the potential future saint would simultaneously want to fight AIDS and condom use is not surprising, given her long history of total hypocrisy.