When I came to US I devoured information about Mother Theresa and found a great deal of truth in Christopher Hitchens’ expose’ The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice. His searing critique of her in general – and particularly before the Vatican canonized her, created quite a stir in the late 1990’s. If Mother Theresa was not sacred, many wondered, what was according to Hitchens. The answer he gave: “nothing” –because everything and everyone should be held to vigorous examination to keep the world more honest than it might otherwise be.
Perhaps my view is somewhat jaundiced against hero leaders like Mother Theresa because of my experience living in India for 17 years. I witnessed disturbing things that made me question Mother Teresa’s methods of working with the poor in the slums of Calcutta. These included her withholding of medicine from chronically ill patients because she believed that “the suffering of the poor is beautiful in the sight of God”, testifying against contraception and preventing her nuns from having contact with their birth family (they were all children of Mother Theresa).