Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles Mother Teresa, or should now we say, Saint Teresa of Calcutta, for decades was seen on TV screens around the world tending to what she called the “poorest of the poor.” From San Francisco to Sydney people's eyes filled with tears as the wizened old woman held infants in her arms and proclaimed that through the power of God Almighty she would address the many wrongs of this world and help millions whose lives had been blighted by poverty. And yet for some, their eyes only glistened with anger, their hearts were filled only with the beat of injustice, as they saw only too clearly a dark shadow cast by a woman who was far from the angel of the gutters she was said to be. Today we present the ugly truth. We imagine that introduction has already nettled a few of our viewers who could and still cannot see anything like a dark side to the person who was called the patron saint of missionaries. Maybe they are well aware that this woman was outspoken about the abject poverty that certain residents of India were faced with back in the day. They can recall the devastation of the 1943 famine and how millions died of starvation and disease. This was a woman who in the name of God promised to live among the poor and never falter from that path. Like a martyr, she would suffer her own series of illnesses, and yet she would never turn her back on the slums. Through her “Missionaries of Charity” she would tend to the people whose home was the streets and whose daily bread were the scraps people threw away. She would hold out a hand to the blind, to the lepers, to the people that society had for the most part made pariahs. And it is true, we don't question it, that she and her fellow missionaries held their arms out to the poor. They did indeed offer succor to people on the edge who felt helpless and lost. For those in the last throes of life, besieged by diseases such as HIV and tuberculosis, Mother Teresa and her sisters opened their home. For those at the start of life but without parents to care for them, she built much-needed orphanages. In her own words, Mother Teresa said, with her unlimited love she would make it her life's work to protect, “the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society, people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone.” Maybe some of you are now thinking, hmm, Infographics Show, you're sure walking on thin ice if you're going to start throwing digs at this paragon of human virtue. We're not even done. Teresa and her sisters, with the help of funding on tap, opened hospices and orphanages and more all over the world. By the time she was done, her Missionaries of Charity consisted of 4,000 sisters and 300 brothers doing good at 610 missions that covered much of the globe. They were helped by over a million workers who did anything from giving hope to orphans to handing out free soup to the homeless. So really, why should such an apogee of humanity have to take any flak? Let us now transform into the devil's advocate. As all you viewers will know, nothing in this life is cut and dried. Every story has countless other narratives running through the main narrative, or as we're told when we are children, there are always two sides to every story. One of the first people to start talking about chinks in Mother Teresa's gilded armor was the critic Christopher Hitchens. In fact, while she was still alive, he co-wrote and hosted a documentary called “Hell's Angel.” Soon after that, he wrote the book, “The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice.” This man certainly had a bee in his bonnet when it came to the lady of the light. The overarching critique was that Mother Teresa and her sisters received millions upon millions of dollars to do God's work and didn't do a very good job. It's important we say, “God's work” and not just volunteer work. In fact, many people criticized her charities, saying that even with untold millions they were run by people who could not provide adequate care. Pain relief was seldom given to anyone and professional medical personnel were not often seen in the thrum of volunteers who really didn't know what they were doing. Still, for the public in the West who watched her on TV, they only saw a saint. For those who donated money, it was like doing good in the eyes of God. That can of course have certain benefits come judgment day. You see, during the medieval period, there was something called indulgences. In short, a person could buy their way out of hell or at least get a few of their sins scratched off God's ethereal chalkboard. Critics believed Mother Teresa was selling indulgences and to them, it was a kind of con. Here's what Hitchens said about that: “This returns us to the medieval corruption of the church, which sold indulgences to the rich while preaching hellfire and continence to the poor. Mother Teresa was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God.” Hitchens said he once got to talk with her face-to-face and she told him outright that she wasn't trying to get rid of poverty and that she was certainly not a social worker. Her mission was to create more Catholics in the world and expand the Catholic church. He and others argued that she was never trying to fix poverty or lessen some of the pains that come with it. How could she be, they said, her facilities were badly run and they did not focus on methods of poverty reduction in terms of education or the empowerment of women. In 2010, long after the so-called “Angel of Mercy” had passed away, a writer for Forbes visited one of the Missionaries of Charity and said what she found were volunteers and other people questioning what exactly was going down in there. The article said those places had always been resistant to change and things had to be done the way Mother Teresa wanted them done, which most of the time meant volunteers doing the jobs that they were not trained to do. The writer said, “Missionaries has always kept change at bay. But in a world where it is very difficult to hide behind secrecy, the number of disillusioned followers is increasing.” She interviewed one of the volunteers, a guy from the United States who went over to India to do some good. It should be mentioned here that the volunteers don't get any say in the running of the places nor do they have any idea about all the money coming in and where it goes. This particular volunteer expressed surprise at what he first discovered over the first few days. In his own words, he said, “I was shocked to see the negligence. Needles were washed in cold water and reused and expired medicines were given to the inmates. There were people who had a chance to live if given proper care.” So, again, people have asked about how so much cash can do so little, but that volunteer said in no time at all he witnessed someone needlessly dying. He said another volunteer without any medical training had tried to feed a paralyzed person, but he did it wrong and that person died. He said he also saw someone having a toe amputated and not being given any kind of anesthetic. Yet another volunteer said she saw in one facility, “syringes run under cold water and reused, aspirin given to those with terminal cancer, and cold baths given to everyone.” Mother Teresa allowed no criticism of such practices. People countered such criticisms, saying hey, these places are home to the sick, the poor, and the dying; they are not a hospital. Ok, state the naysayers, fine, but why not offer some real medical expertise with all that cash? As you'll soon see, the money donated was not exactly pennies. And what about the ones who recovered, surely there should be some sort of rehabilitation going on to help them when they were ready to leave? One European volunteer said sometimes people left of their own accord, but other times they were forced back onto the streets with no help or guidance as to how to survive. For that reason, they might soon be back. In this respect, it almost sounds like the prison system in many countries and their “revolving doors.” Some of them would rather not have empty beds. In the world of perpetual poverty, there's the term, The Charitable-Industrial Complex. Mother Teresa has been accused of being part of that, perhaps even a lodestone. That same volunteer as we just mentioned said one woman was very sick with diabetes, and then she was gone. The sisters said she had been placed in another facility, but a few days later the volunteer saw her back on the streets. She still couldn't walk right. There are numerous reports of money being donated to certain Missionaries of Charity facilities but not much of that money being seen. A German report going all the way back to 1991 said that only seven percent of the donated cash actually appeared at the place it was donated to. Ok, so where is the missing money? No one knows, but Forbes points out that it's controlled by the Vatican now that Mother Teresa is resting in peace. One of the people who should know as well as anyone about what Mother Teresa did was Dr. Aroup Chatterjee. He grew up in Calcutta and while studying to be a doctor was one of few voices shouting about the terrible state of the poor. He did his shouting from the slums. He later went over to the UK where he said he was shocked by the British adulation of Mother Teresa. She was indeed portrayed as a saint, although when he was campaigning in the slums back in India he said he never saw any of the sisters. He later wrote about what he called a “cult of suffering” and spent much of his time trying to understand how, if at all, Mother Teresa and her gang of sisterly angels were helping the poor. He spoke with many, many people who'd worked closely with the sisters which concluded with him writing the book, “Mother Teresa: The Final Verdict.” Maybe some people don't trust his verdict, but he was arguably in a very good position to deliver one. Support was never a bad thing for her, of course. One investigation found that the Vatican Bank, aka, the Institute for the Works of Religion, had one mammoth account in her name. It said the account was worth billions and had she one day just decided to make equally mammoth withdrawals the bank would have been on its knees. If that's not enough to suspend us on this thin ice we're skating on, she was also called a racist…well, actually, a white savior-type of racist who pitied a people that could not save themselves and needed her as benefactor-in-chief. She was of course clapped on by giddy white people who thought their clapping helped those poor brown people, while not thinking too much about the details and genesis of widespread abject poverty. As for the western media with its decades-long grandstanding of Mother Teresa, it too, say the critics, played a part in a kind of white colonialism.In an interview, he said, “I spent months in libraries in London. I also traveled the world researching it. I followed slum dwellers, beggars, destitute children with a video camera. I interviewed hundreds of people. I stood with a video camera outside Teresa's home for hours.” And his verdict was Mother Teresa, or the idea of her great, brilliant, immutable goodness was “bogus.” He talked about the sorry state of the facilities he visited, the lack of hygiene, the needless deaths, and of course the baptisms that were given to people on their deathbeds without their consent. Even worse, he said, when Mother Teresa claimed her Nobel Peace Prize, she was quick to state how she had saved the lives of tens of thousands of people in India. Well, after Chatterjee did his research, he said you could possibly give her the number 700, which isn't a lot considering the many, many millions of dollars she received. His research also found that in Calcutta, the Missionaries of Charity was giving very little help in terms of food and water compared to most other charities. In some countries, help was hardly given at all, and conversion to Christianity was what was really going on. But the media loved her, of course. Many of you were likely not alive when she was, but rest assured, she was hardly ever off the TV. Politicians could get brownie points for shaking her hand while fraudsters, dictators, and other very bad people were only too happy to appear on with her before the flashing cameras. Speaking of politicians, Bill Clinton made her an honorary citizen of the US, because she showed "how we can make real our dreams for a just and good society.” Everyone wanted a piece of her. It was as if she had received a television canonization, which Chatterjee ascribes mostly to the US media. This was happening, he says, while the most vulnerable people in India were still not getting the help they needed… The New York Times caught up with him fairly recently, and for the most part, he said what we have already told you, minus the “blankets stained with feces… washed in the same sink used to clean dishes.” He said at least nowadays the Missionaries of Charity do have medical professionals that come in and when things are bad for people they are taken to a hospital. Back in the day, he said he struggled to explain the myth of her to the people of Calcutta. They weren't interested when he expressed that the miracles people claimed she'd performed were perhaps not miracles at all. He wasn't exactly popular for his opinions. Mother Teresa was finally made a saint in 2016 for allegedly healing a man with a brain tumor. Thousands upon thousands of people around the world wept tears of joy. Chatterjee's contention that this was more hocus pocus fell on many deaf ears in the West. He concluded his chat with the Times, saying, “They don't care about whether a third-world city's dignity or prestige has been hampered by an Albanian nun. So, obviously, they may be interested in the lies and the charlatans and the fraud that's going on, but the whole story, they're not interested in.” On top of all this, she was known to move with some very sketchy people, including neo-fascists in Italy and a dictatorship in Argentina whose members were later convicted of genocide and other crimes against humanity. Her friend in Haiti, Jean-Claude Duvalier, was also accused of torture and genocide. She received millions from fraudster Charles Keating and flew on his private jet. In the US this humble, modest woman only got the best medical treatment that wealthy people can buy. After her death, even NPR gave credence to her performance of a real-life, bonafide miracle, writing, “Hard-core rationalists would not be likely to see such cases as evidence of a 'miracle' even while acknowledging they have no alternative explanation.” As was soon pointed out, you don't have to be a hardcore rationalist to believe nuns don't make terminal brain abscesses disappear with a flick of the wrist, but this was all part of the myth and it seemed almost everyone was in on it. Can you blame Mother Teresa for that? Well, in her private diaries she wrote about her doubts and “emptiness and darkness”, but that never stopped her forcing a “ticket to heaven” on people or demanding women should not have the right to make choices about their own bodies. We'll leave you with a question someone once asked her.