The Mother Teresa ‘miracle’

mtlThe BBC have an article about the Pope formally recognising that Mother Teresa, who died in 1997, has successfully performed a 2nd official Miracle, and so is well on track to becoming an official saint next year (about September I think).

The BBC article explains …

Pope Francis has recognised a second miracle attributed to Mother Teresa, clearing the way for the Roman Catholic nun to be made a saint next year. 

The miracle involved the healing of a Brazilian man with several brain tumours in 2008, the Vatican said. 

Mother Teresa died in 1997 and was beatified – the first step towards sainthood – in 2003. 

She won the Nobel Peace Prize for her work with the poor in the slums of the Indian city of Kolkata (Calcutta).

“The Holy Father has authorised the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to proclaim the decree concerning the miracle attributed to the intercession of blessed Mother Teresa,” the Vatican said on Friday.

To get the Official “Saint” status (whatever that means), you need (so they claim) proof of at least two medical miracles.

What exactly does the word “proof” mean?

I don’t have the details of the 2nd “miracle”, apparently nobody does and so we are expected to just take their word on it, but for the first we have a few more details, so let’s take a look at that one.

Back in 2003 (via the BBC again) …

The Pope judged that the curing of an Indian woman suffering from an abdominal tumour was the result of the supernatural intervention of Mother Teresa.

…He approved the October finding from a Vatican commission that the healing of a Bengali tribal woman, Monica Besra, was a miracle.

It is claimed that a locket with Mother Teresa’s photo on it cured the woman of a stomach tumour in Calcutta in 1998.

The problem with this “Miracle” is that it is not one at all, and what we actually have here is a Non sequitur. The problem is that you simply cannot claim that the Mother Teresa locket was the cure, and that the medical treatment she received at the same time played no part at all, and so this claim is quite frankly absurd because it completely ignores the medical care she received. This is not simply my own opinion, Prabir Ghosh, general secretary of the Indian Rationalist and Scientific Thinking Association, took this exact stance, and he was not alone, her doctors agreed with him …

Mr Ghosh described the claim as bogus and typical of the process of cult building in all religious orders. 

He says Mother Teresa could be considered for sainthood for her services to the poor, adding that it was an insult to her legacy to bestow her sainthood on false claims of miracles. 

Mr Ghosh says several doctors have reported to the West Bengal government that Ms Besra continued to receive treatment long after Mother Teresa died. 

He said Ms Besra was admitted to hospital with chronic headaches and severe abdominal pain at least a year after Mother Teresa’s death. 

The doctors say that if the story of the miracle gets what they describe as undue publicity, illiterate and poor villagers may stop taking medical treatment for their maladies and seek miracle cures. 

Mr Ghosh says his association, which seeks to promote rational and scientific thinking in India, would expect the West Bengal Government to take legal action against the Missionaries of Charity.

… in other words, her own doctors did not think this was a “miracle”, so where exactly is the “proof” here?

This I suspect is what might be best described as religious “proof” and not scientific proof at all. If you were to take a scientific approach then you do need to justify why your conclusion is the best answer, utilise objective data and not subjective opinion to back it up, and not ignore the far more obvious reasonable conclusion.

Was Mother Teresa a Good person?

In popular culture Mother Teresa is generally considered to be a very good person who devoted her life to helping the poor, but just how much of this is myth and what are the real facts?

There is a well-researched book by a journalist, “The Missionary Position, which exposed her as a religious fanatic with no real interest in actually helping the poor. The author visited her clinic in Calcutta and personally interviewed her, so he was in the unique position of having direct knowledge. I’ve written about this before, here are a few factual highlights to mull over …

1) Not a Friend of the Poor

She was not at all a friend of the poor, but was instead a friend of poverty. That might appear to be a subtle distinction, but it is a rather important one. She believed that poverty was a gift from god and should be accepted and welcomed. The outcome of such thinking was that she was opposed to the one thing that is known to cure poverty, allowing woman control over their reproductive cycle. In other words, woman should be breeding machines and have as many babies as possible.

2) Her friends included the corrupt rich

Those with whom she was friends included the corrupt rich such as the Duvalier family in Haiti. She travelled all the way there to personally meet with them so that she could be given money. Note that this was not theirs to give, but had been stolen by this corrupt family from the poor of Haiti. In return she gave a public speech in which she praised the regime of this family of dictators.

She also accepted 1.4 million dollars of stolen money from Charles Keeting, founder of Lincoln Savings and Loan Association. In return she gave him public support and testimony at his trial saying what a great man he was. The District Attorney wrote to her and explained that the money had never belonged to him and that she should not keep it (she never replied).

3) Nobel prize for peace. Why?

She never did anything for peace or even claimed to have done anything for peace, yet she got the prize  … why?

When you accept your award cheque, you don’t just go and collect it, you are expected to give a speech that relates to the topic of your award. She gave the most bizarre dialogue in which she claimed that the main enemy of peace in the world was abortion.

4) Where did all the money go?

There have been enormous numbers of donations to her from decent people all around the world who truly believed she was helping the poor of Calcutta. Mr Hitchens personally visited her clinic in Calcutta and describes it as a dump and not a clinic at all. “It is an ill lit place where the poorest of the poor are dragged in off the street to die.”

With the money she got she could at least have started a big teaching hospital, so where did the millions go?

She used it all to build more than 150 convents all around the world  in her own name, perhaps hoping to have an order of nuns named after her.

Did those who gave know that it was for the propagation of fanatical Catholicism? I think not. Money has been taken under false pretences, there has been an outright fraud going on here.

In other words, when faced with the claim that she was a saintly person, then once you are familiar with the facts you tend to choke over that idea.

This is not an isolated question, and instead rocks many similar claims to the core by challenging all the other supposed religious saints back through all the ages including Jesus himself. Most of the information we are given is religious mythology that does not in any way relate to who these people really were, what they actually did, what truly motivated them, or what they actually believed.

1 thought on “The Mother Teresa ‘miracle’”

  1. Claiming Mother Theresa healed something is too funny. That’s exaclty what she wouldn’t do.

    It would’nt matter if the doctors themselves were saying it’s a miracle (which is the case with the new miracle, as I’m told).

    Every single one of these medical miracles are a misture of post hoc ergo propter hoc and an appeal to ignorance. It’s a post hoc because part of the argument is “someone prayed and later he/she got cured, therefore it was the prayer that cased it” and it’s a appeal to ignorance because the other part of the argument is “doctors can’t explain what happened, therefore it was a miracle”.

    These claims to miracles are not only idiotic, but they actually hurt man kind. In the case of this new miracle, the guy got cured from brain cancer. This possibly means that we are facing a way to cure this kind of cancer, needing only that we keep on investigating this man’s health. But instead of leaving the case open for future development, people, and by that I mean medical scientists, are already accepting that the case is closed. We already have an answer to the mistery of his cure. Therefore we don’t need to look further.

    This kind of magical thinking actively stops our persuit of knowledge.

    Furthermore, we have to analyse this event critically. The Catholic Church has been facing a decline on the number of adherents, specially to evangelical Churches. Brazil is the biggest Catholic country in the world and is also facing these phenomenon. So accepting a miracle that happened in this country increases the interest in the Catholic Church and keeps in in the media and in the minds of the people.

    It also seems likely that Padre Cicero, a brazilian priest, will soon be made saint too. Making him the first brazilian saint, to please the crowd.

    As the Watchman Comedian would say: “it’s all a joke”.


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