Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 11:27 AM
[I]t is my pleasure to introduce you to my favorite columnist, Christopher Hitchens, a regular contributor to such acclaimed publications as The Atlantic, The Nation, Vanity Fair, Slate, and World Affairs.
(“Who Outed Valerie Plame?” The iPINIONS Journal, August 31, 2006)
I always get a kick out of people regaling me about a topic on which I am not only well-versed but have actually written. Which is why I imagine the late Christopher Hitchens would be getting quite a kick out of commentators waxing shock and dismay this week about a study by Canadian academics which belatedly found, among other things, that:
Mother Teresa was a product of hype who housed the poor and sick in shoddy conditions, despite her access to a fortune.
(Huffington Post, March 4, 2013)
After all, Hitchens became a veritable John the Baptist with his polemics debunking the myth of Mother Teresa’s charitable works. Most notable in this respect was his forensic inquiry into the sinful disconnect between the millions she collected (especially from people of plainly dubious reputation) and the trademark squalid conditions of her convents.
Hell, even I have wondered aloud about the seemingly fetishistic delight she derived from the suffering of the poor, opting for rote prayer (as religious fanatics are wont to do) instead of medical care even for those writhing in easily treatable pain.
Anyway, here is how Hitchens crystallized his regard for her – with moral indignation and common sense – in “The Pope Beatifies Mother Teresa, a Fanatic, a Fundamentalist, and a Fraud,” Slate, October 20, 2003:
[Mother Teresa] was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty [saying] that suffering was a gift from God. And she was a friend to the worst of the rich, taking misappropriated money from the atrocious Duvalier family in Haiti (whose rule she praised in return) and from Charles Keating of the Lincoln Savings and Loan. Where did that money, and all the other donations, go?
And here is a truly damning excerpt from the Amazon.com review of his 1995 book, The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice:
The most riveting material in the book is contained in two letters: one from Mother Teresa to Judge Lance Ito – then weighing what sentence to dole out to the convicted Keating [who bilked investors of billions of dollars] – which cited all the work Keating has done ‘to help the poor,’ and another from a Los Angeles deputy D.A., Paul Turley, back to Mother Teresa that eloquently stated that rather than working to reduce Keating’s sentence, she should return the money he gave her to its rightful owners, the defrauded bond-holders.
Indeed, based on the particulars of indictment in this book alone, which effectively paint Mother Teresa as the Bernie Madoff of Catholic charities, one would have thought the Catholic Church would feel a moral obligation to rebuke her. Instead, Pope John Paul II was purportedly inspired by God in 2003 to put her on the fast track to sainthood. (She died in 1997.)
But far be it from me to question the moral rectitude of that or any Pope (although I suppose I’d be forgiven for doing so in light of recent revelations which suggest that moral turpitude and Machiavellian shenanigans are, and have always been, as pervasive in Vatican City as they are, and have always been, in Rome). Not surprisingly, Hitchens suffered no scruples in this respect. For, in the above-referenced sermon published in Slate, here is how he exposed the all too human vainglory that inspired Pope John Paul II to breach common practice to make her a saint right away:
According to an uncontradicted report in the Italian paper L’Eco di Bergamo, the Vatican’s secretary of state sent a letter to senior cardinals in June, asking on behalf of the Pope whether they favored making MT a saint right away. The response was in the negative… The Pope’s clear intention has been to speed the process up in order to perform the ceremony in his own lifetime.
Frankly, given all of the diabolical sins Catholic priests, bishops, cardinals and Popes have committed over the years, it might be more fitting for the new Pope to be vested with devil horns and fisherman’s trident instead of papal crown and fisherman’s ring.