Hindu fundamentalists spark fresh row over Mother Teresa
An allegation that Mother Teresa’s activities in India were primarily motivated by her desire to Christianise Indians has been brushed aside by the Catholic Church.
Speaking of the latest allegations against the self-serving old fraud by Hindu fundamentalists, Bishop Theodore Masceranhas, Secretary General of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, said:
They are known for making such baseless statements. This is nothing new.
Bishop Masceranhas was reacting to statements from key Hindu nationalist leaders calling into question the reason for Mother Teresa’s dedicated service to the needy and destitute as her September 4 canonisation draws near.
Yogi Adityanath, a senior member of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in the Indian Parliament, told a Hindu gathering in June:
Mother Teresa was part of a conspiracy for the Christianisation of India. Christianisation has led to separatist movement in parts of northeast India, including the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland.
Even if such a conspiracy did not exist, Mother Teresa, who died in 1997, was certainly guilty of even greater crimes against Indians. In a piece entitled “Mommie Dearest“, the late Christopher Hitchens slammed the beatification of the woman, and pointed out:
Many more people are poor and sick because of the life of MT: Even more will be poor and sick if her example is followed. She was a fanatic, a fundamentalist, and a fraud, and a church that officially protects those who violate the innocent has given us another clear sign of where it truly stands on moral and ethical questions.
While the latest disparaging comments against Mother Teresa made news headlines, a section of the media — including the New Indian Express — claimed that the comments were part of an attempt by the Hindu fundamentalist lobby to dissuade the Indian Prime Minister from attending the canonisation in Rome.
Some media outlets even claimed that the Catholic Church asked the government and the ruling party to act against these leaders.
However, Bishop Masceranhas denied such claims and reiterated:
How could we make such a demand? It is against common sense. This is a democracy. Each one has freedom to express his opinion. But as a responsible political party, the Bharatiya Janata Party should rein in its leaders.
Abraham Mathai, a Christian leader based in Mumbai, dismissed a claim that the controversial statements against Mother Teresa were made to stop the Prime Minister’s attendance at the canonisation.
In a press statement, Mathai pointed out that Adityanath’s baseless statements do not befit his title of “yogi” (a master of spiritual discipline in Hindu belief). Mother Teresa, Mathai said, came to India:
To work among the poorest of the poor in India. Where were the yogis at that time? Have they served? Have they done what Mother Teresa and her people have been doing? If Mother Teresa converted people into Christianity by her work, why hasn’t the population of Christians increased in the country?
India’s Christian population has remained virtually static, around 2.3 percent of the total population, Mathai noted.
This is routine propaganda to keep (Hindu nationalist) cadres active.
In February 2015, Mohan Bhagwat, chief of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (National Volunteer Corps) that espouses Hindu nationalism with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, said:
It’s good to work for a cause with selfless intentions. But Mother Teresa’s work had ulterior motive, which was to convert the person who was being served to Christianity. In the name of service, religious conversions were made. This was followed by other institutes, too,
Bishop Masceranhas said the Church will hold a public celebration in Kolkata on October 2 to honor Mother Teresa’s sainthood.
• See Barbara Smoker’s “Mother Teresa – Sacred Cow” here.