In A Nutshell
The words “Mother Teresa” are modern-shorthand for things like “good,” “kind-hearted,” and “selfless.” Unfortunately, the real Mother Teresa was an authoritarian crook who palled around with some of the most despicable men of her day.
The Whole Bushel
Mother Teresa is famed for being one of history’s true altruists. She devoted her life to the poor, opening her first Missionaries of Charity home in 1950s Calcutta, and going on to open hundreds more across the world. As word of her mission spread, it caught the public imagination and millions of dollars began to pour in, all of which went to help those who needed it most. At least, that’s the official version.
The reality is far grimmer. According to those who’ve volunteered there, Mother Teresa’s missions are squalid cesspits run along violent, authoritarian lines. There are reports of unruly children being tied to beds and beaten, of outdated equipment not being replaced, and of needles being reused in countries with high HIV infection rates (such as Haiti) until they were so blunt they caused pain. All of this wrapped up in a culture of unquestioning obedience, secrecy, and control that is said to resemble a cult.
This might all be okay if the Missionaries were doing some good, but they’re not. In 1991, German magazine Stern revealed that only 7 percent of donations to the organization were used for charity. The rest was funneled into secret bank accounts or used to build more missions. There are reports that missions won’t even buy bread to feed their inmates, preferring instead to rely only on donated food.
And where does all this money come from? Well, some of it comes from regular, kind-hearted folk giving what they can. A heck of a lot more came from some of the most evil men who ever lived. Mother Teresa herself personally took large donations from the psychopathic Haitian dictator “Baby Doc,” publicly defending his blood-soaked rule in return. In the 1990s, fraudster Charles Keating donated $1.25 million of stolen money to the Missionaries. When asked to return the fraudulent money, Mother Teresa simply stayed silent.
Mother Teresa undoubtedly did some good things in her time, but they may yet be overshadowed by her awful legacy. In 2010, Forbes revealed that the first home she set up had a mortality rate of over 40 percent. To paraphrase an old saying, if the poor have friends like her, they no longer need enemies.