The Missionary Position | Christopher Hitchens

Summary of: The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice
By: Christopher Hitchens

Introduction

Embark on a journey that delves into the life and work of a figure renowned for her relentless dedication to helping the poor and the sick, Mother Teresa. Christopher Hitchens’ ‘The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice’ critically examines the foundation of her global acclaim and questions its veracity. Uncover the realities of Mother Teresa’s hospices, the quality of medical care provided, her financial dealings, and her relationships with oppressive political figures. This summary aims to challenge the popular perception of Mother Teresa and invites you to reconsider her true motives and the impact of her work.

The True Story of Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa’s rise to fame was based on false premises, and her supposed miracles were debunked later in life. The reality of Calcutta was not as portrayed in a 1969 BBC documentary, and the Western press mischaracterized her work with the poor. Despite this, Teresa remained a celebrated figure in the West.

The Unsettling Truth About Mother Teresa’s Centers

Mother Teresa’s medical centers fetishized poverty rather than assisting the poor, according to firsthand accounts from various sources. The centers lacked proper medical equipment, medication, and hygiene, yet monetary donations poured in. Critics reveal that Mother Teresa’s objective was not to help the impoverished but to exploit their condition and fulfill her obsession with poverty and suffering.

Mother Teresa was lauded worldwide for her humanitarian efforts in Calcutta. However, some insiders have questioned the quality of medical care provided at her centers. In one account, the editor of The Lancet, Dr. Robin Fox, visited one of Teresa’s Calcutta centers in 1994 and reported that the facilities were in poor condition and lacking in basic resources, and the nuns were diagnosing medical conditions without proper authorization.

Mary Loudon, a former volunteer at one of Teresa’s Calcutta centers, also shared her first-hand experience, comparing the center to a World War One clinic, revealing that needles were recycled, and medical equipment was not sterilized properly. Instead of using her massive monetary donations to improve the centers’ condition and provide high-quality medical care, Mother Teresa seemed to fetishize poverty and suffering. One former acolyte revealed that up to $50 million had been collected in one of her organization’s bank accounts, but it was not directed towards improving the lives of people at the centers.

Critics claim that Teresa exploited the poverty condition of people and aimed to fulfill her obsession with poverty and suffering. Thus, the medical centers reflected her cult-like fascination instead of genuinely assisting the poor.

Teresa’s Dark Side

Susan Shields, a former nun who volunteered for Teresa, unveils a dark side of Mother Teresa through her testimony. Teresa’s obsession with harsh austerity led her to remove every materialistic item from her San Francisco center, leaving nuns to suffer in the cold due to lack of heating. She also vehemently refused to install an elevator for disabled patients in the Bronx center, resulting in the project’s end. Shields’ testimony paints a picture of Teresa’s centers as not serving the poor as advertised, but satisfying the spiritual needs of Teresa and her associates.

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