The late Mother Teresa’s saintly image has been called into question by researchers conducting an in-depth study of her life.
Mother Teresa may have spent the vast majority of her 87 years looking after the sick and poor, but researchers from Montreal and Ottawa universities have now raised questions over the ‘dubious’ nature of her care, as well querying her “questionable” political contacts.
The researchers also raised concerns over the Nobel Peace Prize winner’s ‘suspicious’ financial arrangements, which they claim saw large sums of money transferred into her ‘secret’ bank accounts.
Writing in the Journal of Studies in Religion/Sciences after analysing around 300 documents surrounding Mother Teresa’s life, Dr Serge Larivie and Dr Genevieve Chenard say they have uncovered details that compromise the Albanian-born nun’s saintly image.
They claim that many of the ‘missions’ set up by Mother Teresa were unfit for their inhabitants, calling them ‘homes for the dying’ due to their poor hygiene and a shortage of food, care and medication.
The researchers believe a lack of money cannot be the reason for the poor conditions however, as Mother Teresa raised hundreds of millions of pounds during her lifetime, although much of that money apparently appears to have vanished into several ‘secret’ bank accounts reportedly kept by the nun.
The researchers also questioned why, despite openly offering prayers and medallions bearing depictions of the Virgin Mary, Mother Teresa provided no direct or monetary aid to victims of a number of natural disasters in India.
Dr Larivie says: “Given the parsimonious management of Mother Teresa's works, one may ask where the millions of dollars for the poorest of the poor have gone?”
The researchers went on to query Mother Teresa’s politics and political contacts, accusing her of accepting a financial grant from the brutal Duvalier dictatorship, which is deemed responsible for the murders of over 30,000 Haitians between 1957 and 1986.
They also accuse Mother Teresa of spreading hardline right wing Catholic ideology, saying she held “overly dogmatic views regarding, in particular, abortion, contraception and divorce.”
Dr Larivie said that much of Mother Teresa’s saintly public image was shaped by the BBC journalist Malcolm Muggeridge, who shared her conservative Catholic views, particularly on abortion, and whose promotion of her led to the nun’s international fame.
Despite the negatives, Dr Larivie accepts there are many positive aspects to Mother Teresa’s life and work.
He said: “If the extraordinary image of Mother Teresa conveyed in the collective imagination has encouraged humanitarian initiatives that are genuinely engaged with those crushed by poverty, we can only rejoice.”
He added: “It is likely that she has inspired many humanitarian workers whose actions have truly relieved the suffering of the destitute and addressed the causes of poverty and isolation without being extolled by the media…Nevertheless, the media coverage of Mother Teresa could have been a little more rigorous."
Mother Teresa died in 1997 and was beatified by the Catholic Church in 2003, leaving her just one miracle away from sainthood.