Tuesday, March 15, 2016
Mother Teresa to be Declared Saint
Pope Francis announced today his plan to canonize Mother Theresa as a saint on September 4, the eve of the anniversary of her death on September 5, 1997. In most cases, two miracles are required to be considered a saint. Pope Francis declared in December 2015 that he would declare her a saint after recognizing her second miracle: the healing of a Brazilian man with multiple brain tumors after loved ones prayed to Mother Teresa. The first miracle, the reportedly inexplicable curing of a woman’s stomach tumor after praying to Mother Teresa, and she was beatified in 2003 by Pope John II after he waived a customary five-year wait period after her death in 1997.
In the Catholic religion, saints are believed to be people who have already entered heaven; canonized saints, those who are declared saints by the church after death, are prayed to and revered as model humans to be imitated. Mother Teresa spent most of her life working with the poor in India, founding the Missionaries of Charity in 1950 to care for “all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared-for throughout society, people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone,” she said in her acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. Being canonized a saint? Seems like a no-brainer—unfortunately, it’s not that simple.
Mother Teresa has always been a subject of controversy, and critics attempt to bring to light Mother Teresa’s less saint-like actions. According to Huffington Post Associate Editor Krithika Varagur,
“She was no saint. To canonize Mother Teresa would be to seal the lid on her problematic legacy, which includes forced conversion, questionable relations with dictators, gross mismanagement, and actually, pretty bad medical care. Worst of all, she was the quintessential white person expending her charity on the third world -- the entire reason for her public image, and the source of immeasurable scarring to the postcolonial psyche of India and its diaspora.”
Varagur supports this idea, citing a 2013 study from the University of Ottawa, which revealed among its findings that Mother Teresa's missions provided inadequate medical care and of her conception of suffering and death: “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.” To some, Mother Teresa is not a holy figure but rather a symbol of Western supremacy and resembles the idea of the”White Man’s Burden” during the late nineteenth century.
In matters regarding religion, it is important to respect others’ beliefs, but what do you think? To outsiders, canonizing Mother Teresa just seems like a smart PR move by the Catholic church, but to others this decision holds far more meaning. Given the controversy surrounding Mother Teresa’s actions in life, do you think she should be considered a saint? How might this decision affect the United States' relationship with the Pope and the Catholic Church?