Mother Teresa believed the sick must suffer like Christ on the cross, they suggest.
“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,” the journalist Christopher Hitchens reported her as saying.
(Hitchens referred to her as “a fanaticist, a fundamentalist and a fraud.”)
The study authors note that doctors visiting many of the 517 “homes for the dying” run by Mother Teresa observed unhygienic conditions and a shortage of actual care, food and painkillers. Lack of funds were no explanation, since Mother Teresa’s order of the Missionaries of Charity had raised hundreds of millions in aid money. When the nun herself was in need of medical treatment, “she received it in a modern American hospital,” they point out.
According to Larivée and colleagues, Mother Teresa’s image of altruism is a myth. Even so, he acknowledges the power of her extraordinary reputation.
Most heroes tend to be mythologized to some extent, but it is pretty clear that the myths surrounding Mother Teresa have all but obscured the truth of what she actually did. For people inspired by the myth, I hope they do good work and actually alleviate the suffering the poor and sick experience, but we should also remember that it is a myth, and that the reality of what one would experience at the woman’s “homes for the dying” are not something most of us would wish on our enemies, let alone our loved ones.