Thursday, 24 December 2015


Mother Teresa not really much of a role model

Eamon McCann

It’s not the fact that Mother Teresa has been credited with cures for which there is no known disease that renders the plan for her canonisation ridiculous. The ridiculousness lies in canonisation itself.
Not even the pope is authorised to hand out ceremonial passes to paradise. To qualify for canonisation, you have to have made the cut and be resident in heaven already. If you’re not in, you can’t win. All of which renders the elaborate ceremony planned for next year redundant – apart from its propaganda value, which is, of course, the point.

Propaganda has always been the name of the canonisation game. The main reason medieval popes came up with the idea was so the church could take control of the selection of role models for society at large. It’s about shaping the world the way you want it to be, about power and influence, not holiness and prayer.
What model of society does the Albanian nun exemplify? Twenty years ago, in January 1996, writing for Hot Press ,I phoned the Los Angeles district attorney’s office to check whether there had been progress in persuading Mother Teresa to hand back a million dollars stolen from the poor.

Not a lot, assistant district attorney Paul Turley told me. Front for fraud The money had been filched from the pockets of pensioners and small savers by the notorious conman, Charles Keating, head of what turned out to be a front for fraud, Lincoln Savings and Loan.

Charles Keating

Keating had siphoned $225 million from the accounts of thousands of victims, and had bunged a million of this loot to Mother Teresa. (The closest Irish equivalents of US savings and loan associations are credit unions.)
Four years earlier, in 1992, Turley had appealed to Teresa: “If you contact me, I will put you in direct contact with the rightful owners of the property now in your possession.” Any developments since, I wondered?
“She has ignored us,” Turley told me. “We have honestly given up on this. It is obvious she is determined to keep it.”
Sentenced to 10 years, Keating may have taken comfort from contemplation of the crucifix on the wall of his cell personally blessed by Pope John Paul and delivered by a messenger from Mother Teresa.
It has commonly been suggested, including in recent days by commentators sceptical about Mother Teresa’s sanctity, that in this and similar matters she had been blinded by intense religiosity, her mode of thought too other-worldly to appreciate mundane stuff like money.
As an excuse for the criminal offence of knowingly receiving stolen property, this would be laughed out of any court in the land. Thomas “Slab” Murphy had a better defence.
A more subtle argument advanced by Catholic traditionalists is that what matters most at a time of ideological turmoil and creeping secularisation within the church is the unwavering adherence and global witness she gave to the teachings of the church now most under siege, on contraception, divorce, abortion etc. It is this, they suggest, which, despite all, makes her a suitable role model for the times we live in.
But this won’t wash either. The journalist Daphne Barak quoted Mother Teresa in April 1996 in Ladies’ Home Journal, commenting on the break-up of the marriage of Princess Diana and Prince Charles. “I think it is such a sad story. Diana is such a sad soul . . . You know what? It is good that it is over. Nobody was happy. I know I should preach for family love and unity, but in their case . . .” Then her voice “trailed off”.

The masses are told under pain of hellfire that they must unquestioningly obey the rules of the church, but when it comes to the useful rich and glamorous, immutable laws of God can be amended on the instant.
In October 1994, Mother Teresa sent a message to the UN International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, pleading for outright rejection of contraception and abortion. “Every child is a gift from God. If you have a child you think is unwanted, give that child to me. I will find it a loving home where it will be cherished as a blessing.” Dishonest opportunism The Cairo conference was to hear that up to 40,000 children under 12 were dying every day of malnutrition or preventable disease. Mother Teresa’s order was not running any adoption operation anywhere in the world. Her statement was not off-the-cuff or a flight of holy fantasy. It was a written declaration, widely distributed. It was dishonest, manipulative opportunism for which it is hard to find adequate words. “Despicable,” maybe.
In the year before her death in 1997, as a team of doctors flown in from around the world tried by extraordinary means to bring her back to health, one Irish newspaper carried the headline, “World Unites in Prayer For ‘Living Saint’.”
We may hope there’ll be a lot less of that sort of thing in 2016.


  1. Ah, Eamonn of the perpetually curled-lip and wall-to-wall sneer. A very nasty and poisonous little man.

  2. Well said Eamon.
    I went to an RC funeral recently, and pondered on the utter idiocy of the sermon and prayers.
    "We pray that she may be admitted to paradise ......" She'd already been dead for a week, so where's she been meanwhile?
    If she's down below it's tough luck for prayers won't change her lot. And it she's already in paradise then aren't the prayers superfluous?
    Please don't mention purgatory:just don't go there!
    Then there was the priest's euology of her good humour and lively spirit right to the end, .......Rubbish. She was, unfortunately, a frail tortured demented soul incarcerated within a decayed body requiring 24/7 care in local nursing home!
    What a log of ritual twaddle the RC church links up to the inevitability of death, dressing it all up in some kind of romanticised fantasy of a glorious afterlife, .........if you are a good catholic, pay your dues, and don't question too much!

    As Eamon writes, the whole charade of sainthood serves the RC church's continuing abuse of its supposed position to influence and determine one's alleged destiny after death.
    "Moment, homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem revereris" is good enough for me!

    1. MMM, I believe in Heaven ( and Hell ).

      However I do not believe that those who are part of robbing the "poor" go to Heaven.

      In facf JC highlighted a much different terminus for them.

    2. MMM just read your comment about RC funeral homilies&I totally agree. In college we were taught to concentrate on the merits of Christ rather than the "goodness"of the deceased (In sermons everyone dead was a saint) - in our church anyway. The "magic" of religious experience takes place within the heart of the believer. Popping a religious pill (ex opere operato) will not on its own achieve the desired end

  3. I met Mother Teresa briefly at her convent in Rome. i said something like "it is an honour to meet you" She mumbled something dismissive- not very saintly where I believe the norm is to accept-as Jesus did-then challenge if and as appropriate. As for the saint factory. I'm inclined to agree. The proddies challenge the intercessory role of the saints. There is nothing wrong with asking a "mate" for a favour. Turning this into a commercial project takes things to a whole new level-Merry Christmas and to all a happy New Year

  4. William Shakespeare24 December 2015 at 21:31

    "Hell is empty,
    And all the devils are here" (The Tempest)


  5. Like MMM I recently attended a funeral mass. The priest told us that the holy sacrifice of the mass was the ultimate prayer needed for the eternal salvation of the deceased. Perhaps he could have told the mourners why if the mass is the "ultimate" prayer why priests take hundreds of pounds signing Mass cards for the same deceased. Do these extra masses give the ultimate prayer a fattening injection? If so then it can't be that " ultimate" or powerful ! Whatsmore, the hypocracy of the church and its operation of double standards was in full flow. A fellow mourner had lost his brother several weeks before and his funeral was from the same church. The same priest told the family that the could not deliver a eulogy as it was forbidden and only the priest could speak from the altar. It was the policy of the church that the focus of anything said should be relative to the gospel. You can imagine the anger of my fellow mourner when at the end of the requiem we were attending a colleague of the deceased delivered a 15 minute speech which included a full career biography( and delivered a number of jokes) all of which was obviously enjoyed by the priest himself. So true about the RC church in Ireland. Tis not what you are but who you are !!
    Ballymena Barney

  6. I read Eamon McCann's article with much amusement. He is right. The RC church is very good at the business of Saint creation. They have a very good system based on the old economic principle of demand and supply. Demand is determined by how ungodly or secular the world or a particular geographic region is or has become.
    When the world in general shows signs of " slippage" then the well timed drama of the canonisation of a "big hitter" takes place. Pope John Paul 2, well known and of recent memory in the minds of everyone was a prime candidate for elevation before he breathed his last. And soon ,when the time is right, we will have that other well known celebrity nun Mother Teresa following suit. It will be hoped by the think tank in the Vatican that the canonisations of this pair will lead to a return to the fold of large numbers of the lapsed and uninterested.
    When the nuncios report in to HQ that the punters in their patch are starting to wander from the fold then a "local" Saint is created. The Vatican always has a list of saints in the making on the back burner ready for promotion to satisfy local or regional needs. In recent times in Dublin, which has become increasing secular and rebellious on the back of the various clergy abuse scandals, a new saint suddenly was pulled from the hat, Charles of Mount Argus. (His canonisation certainly has done wonders for the Passionists finances) If his elevation doesn't do the trick by getting the troops back into the pews then poor oul Matt Talbot may well be called into play.
    Over in Scotland a few years back the church was keen to cash in on the upsurge in catholicity in the years after Celtic won the European Cup with the creation of Glasgow's very own Saint, John Ogilvie.
    Meanwhile back in Rome the strategists are preparing for the fallout from a number of soon to be exposed scandals in Australia. When the "you know what" hits the fan Oz will suddenly get a new saint. A certain Mother Mary McKillop.
    Who said the dead are soon forgotten. Lol
    Dalriada Dick

    1. Thank you DD for that magnificent expose of the manipuations of the RC corporation.

  7. Thank you for that Barney. Your comment on priests taking cash for mass cards very nicely shows the rotten hypocrisy so evident if only people would stop and think.
    Of course that whole money spinning ritual is now commercialised so that parish shops and even some local "holy" shops now sell already signed mass cards.
    The manner in which the RC church abuses humankind's natural worry about the entirely natural inevitability of death was well portrayed in Leon Uris' first chapter of Trinity concerning the death of old Kilty Larkin. An American Jew, Uris admirably captures the whole rigmarole of priestly power all bound up with their supposed power of the "afterlife".

  8. McCann's characteristically nasty little diatribe against MT has all been said before by the likes of Chris Hitchens.

    Unsubstantiated, unproven slanders, willingly believed, by the haters who are gonna hate, no matter what - and who are always looking for an object - at which to spew their venom and spite.

    All these detractions and slurs on the character of Blessed Teresa of Kolkata have been answered, even by atheists. Not that it will make a button of difference to the ilk of Eamonn McCann and his admirers - the likes of "Ballymena Barney", "Dalriada Dick" and "MMM".

    As far as these "100s of pounds" for signing Mass cards go - I can honestly say, that I rarely, if ever, sign a Mass card when I have a Funeral in the Parish (which is very often). In fact, it sometimes happens that there is no offering made for the actual Requiem Mass itself.

    The whole business of Mass stipends - I have never been comfortable with - in any case. Most importantly, it is intended as an "offering". It is not compulsory. It is intended for the upkeep of the priest. The priest is only allowed, by Canon Law, to accept one such stipend (averages between £5, £10 or £20) per day - no more. Any surplus must be handed over to the diocese.religious order - or is sent to missionary priests for their upkeep and support. It is by no means a lucrative business for priests in parishes.

    A priest's average wage today (in the diocese in which I serve), is £14000 per annum. It is not a fortune but I am not complaining.

    The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is of infinite value and every Mass is offered for the living and the dead. A Requiem Mass (despite the misapprehensions for which some clergy themselves are personally responsible) is a prayer for the soul of the deceased - be it a Pope or a lay faithful - that they be speedily freed and purified from the residue of their sins and weaknesses - so as to enter the fullness of life.

    Purgatory, properly understood, is a beautiful and consoling doctrine of the Merciful Love of God that cleanses us after death, to make us ready to see the Face of God, in Joy, forever.

    How sad to read the crass and jaundiced spin put upon the Communion of Saints by BB, DD and MMM. People of Faith know these accusations to be motivated by either malice or ignorance.

    Sagart Paroiste.

  9. Dear S P Noble words in my day there was the A P account and the practice of trousering where allegedly some priests allegedly channelled some of the mass card contributions etc. Occasionally this was sometimes justified via the doctrine of occult compensation. While some parishioners were generous to a fault others expected everything and never parted with a penny allegedly

  10. Big rumour going round the district that Big Shuey in St Pete's (the Great Dane) is going have a big part in HM's New Years Honours List.

    He is getting a seat in the House of Lords in recognition of his services to Queens everywhere and, especially, those who live over the Rainbow, in a land of which he and Nigella have heard, once in lullaby.

    He will be henceforth known as Lord Kennedy of the Pound Loney (The Rt Hon, The Rev Dr Dean, Lord Poundloney).

    Out of the sheer and abject humility that is the hallmark of the man, he says will accept it only on condition that he can do so on behalf of all the 'poor aul' craythurs' of the Lower Falls - for, in his eyes, they are all kings and queens.

    One of the double basses out of the Schola was telling a crowd of his mates in Event Horizon, Union St, all about it on Boxing Night after the Wassailing.

    He also let slip that an even higher up Royal visitor is coming to the Dean's Cathedral than went to St Patrick's Pseudo Cathedral, Donegall St.

    Here's a wee clue - the Royal visitor's initials are ERII.

    The royal Visit and conferring of honours will occur sometime in late March. She will be opening a Holy Door during a garden party in front of St Pete's, to which will be invited the poor, the blind, the sick and the lame (of course they will all be busy that day).

    Lord Poundloney and Baroness Nigella of Nether-Newtownards, will intone a madrigal and then lead a chain dance through the Holy Door, followed by those members of Down and Connor Cathedral Chapter who can still walk, followed by the choristers.

    An organ scholar will play a suitably festive gigue on the mighty Ken Jones Wurlitzer.

    Bishop Treanor has already sent his apols: He has to see a man about a dog that day in Brussels; and a funeral later, on the same day, in Bobbio.

    And the Dean's new title will be produced by the Black Santa from out of his sack.

    It will be a historic day, indeed, at St Pete's. For the first time, patriotic bunting and Ire Fleg will flutter from the lamp posts of Prince Albert St.

    The festivities will conclude with a rousing rendition of The Famine Song by the Schola, followed by Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

    1. Jazs isthe proddie catholic rift finally sorted by way of queenies visit

    2. Is it true Joe McGuigan is being brought back by the dean to beat off the hoods at the garden party?

    3. What a novel way to placate the Divis Hoods! I'm surprised the Dean hasn't thought of it before now!

  11. Sagart Paroiste,
    You would do well to travel a little from the confines of your locality. Mother Teresa has caused trouble in many places and was not held in high esteem at all. Indeed priests and people in this diocese (D&C) need look no further than the late Canon Padraig Murphy, Bishop Philbin and some of their clique to see how much she and her nuns were regarded. Big Padge told her to get outa town. He quickly rumbled her and what she was at. That sort of situation was replicated the world over but seldom reported by the media because she was a creation of and a darling of the media. They needed her for "goodwill" stories just as they needed Princess Diana! Sad but true!
    As for the masscard signing industry the reason why you seldom are asked to sign cards is either you live in a parish where folks just can't afford it or the good people have rumbled the system.
    Perhaps the brainwashed firms man Sagart Paroiste could answer me this about the infinite value of mass and the " beautiful and consoling doctrine" of purgatory. ( the clue, by the way Sagart, is in the word doctrine- man made-dictated from the Vatican). Two neighbours of mine were decent, good and charitable people. They helped many many others by their quiet charitable acts and support and gave of their time to be of service without notice or reward but out of goodness. Both now deceased. Not Catholics. No requiems, no purgatory in their world, no Mass cards. Nothing but a quiet simple funeral without fuss or fanfare. Will they go to their eternal reward slower than some murdering reprobate who has had the supposed benefit of being fast tracked as the result of the "infinite value" of a requiem mass? Wise up Sagart. Wake up and smell the roses!!
    Dalriada Dick

    1. Showing your abysmal ignorance, DD.

      Every Mass is offered for ALL of the living and ALL of the dead - irrespective of creed/denomination.

      People will go to Purgatory whether they believed in it or not and they will benefit, nonetheless, from the Mass, as much as faithful Catholics. The Love and Mercy of God is indiscriminate.

      Doctrine most certainly DOES NOT equate with "man made-dictated from the Vatican" (sic). The Doctrine of Christ and the Doctrine of His Church is God-dictated. (Not that everything "man-made" is necessarily bad anyhow - since human beings are created in God's image and likeness - and the Church contradicts the false Calvinist notion of the 'total depravity of man'.

      Believe you me, DD, Padraig Murphy, God rest his soul, is NO recommendation for anything - especially his being against MT.

      In fact, that "Big Padge" was so against Mother, speaks even more loudly in favour of her true sanctity.

      Think of me as a "brainwashed firms man" (sic) if that is what your little mind needs to do for its ease. It is not of even the remotest concern to me.

    2. "Think of me as a brainwashed firms man....."
      The man talks sense, and took the words right out of my mouth!
      I recall as a 14 year old in 1958 walking with two school friends one Sunday past a Protestant church hall where the congregation was singing their hearts out. We discussed with certainty that they were wasting their time, for they were all going to hell anyway! And we RCs felt very smug.
      We were, in reality, the naive products of RC church and educational indoctrination, blindly and unquestioningly accepting as absolute truth and certainty the teachings of holy mother church.
      Now, some 60 years later I can look back on that naivity and see it as that stage in life's passage before I experienced broader academic and real life education, started to question and think for myself and left behind an inward looking simplistic RC world view.
      I'm reassured that many others from similar backgrounds have made the same journey. You know who you are, and I appreciate and enjoy your comments here.
      I see little point though in debating with some others stuck in a different mentality choosing to cling to a cossetted mindset somewhat analogous to that of my 14 year old self.

    3. Your fourteen year old self was, understandably, perhaps, ignorant of the true Catholic teaching. Your present day 74 year old self, has no excuse for such ignorance - nor for the condescending arrogance you add to it further, MMM.

      The Catholic Church does NOT and never did teach that only Catholics go to Heaven. In 1949, the Church excommunicated Fr Leonard Feeney SJ for claiming that non-Catholics could not be saved.

      The Catholic Church has always believed that God gives every human being sufficient grace for salvation - if they will cooperate with that grace.

      The Church's position is in stark contrast to some shades of " Protestant evangelicalism" which insists that those who are not "saved", according to their peculiar interpretation of what it means to be saved, are all going to Hell en masse.

    4. I have to say, MMM, I never heard taught or preached, either in school or in Church, that Protestants are all going to hell (in the 1950's).

      As regards, Mother Teresa, the poisonous little Mr McCann is being well answered in the IT.

    5. I was definitely taught in Belfast in the 60s and 70s that only Catholics went to heaven. I remember it only too well, as I'll never forget the hounding that went on of catholic families who dared to send their children (I was one) to protestant grammar schools.

      Great blog btw Pat. I've only just discovered it and applaud your courage in speaking out.

  12. There are two good letters in today's Irish Times responding to McCann's scurrilous attack on Blessed Mother Theresa. You might like to append those also to the above article, Bishop Pat, for the sake of balance.

  13. To contributor 28th 14.18

    Answer me this please. If every mass offered is for the living and all the dead why the hell does the Mass card have a space for the deceased's name. Is this a further ruse to trick the mug parting with their hard earned cash that the one for whom the mass is being "offered" will get special treatment. Another confidence trick

    1. The space for the deceased person's name is obviously to allow for sentiments of sympathy to be personalised to his/her family.

      As regards the Mass and the eternal realm that pertains to the Holy Mass, the names of all human beings are known to the God of Infinite Love. Every single person is called by name and loved uniquely.

      You, however, have maliciously concluded that it is all a "ruse", and "a trick". There is nothing that can be done to reason with your mentality unless you experience a conversion of mind and heart.

  14. Indeed a good question, and one unlikely to get an intelligent, logical or straightforward answer.
    Any attempted answer defending the practice will inevitably be based on some convoluted theological, doctrinal or scriptural based interpretation articulated as an unquestionable absolute......just like so much of the rest of the RC codswallop.I just wish more of 'the faithful' would ask these hard questions and demand sensible answers.

    1. For all your pretensions of 'tolerance' and being 'reasonable' and broad-minded, MMM, you are pretty much limited and intellectually constricted.

      No point dialoguing with such a close-minded man, whose prejudices have already declared any answer to be 'codswallop'.

    2. O Micky from the Mournes, you are so smart and enlightened!!! I want to be just like you when I'm growed up!! Yours sincerely, 14 year old Indoctrinaire.

    3. For Anon @ 11:56: 'Argumentum ad hominem' my friend, and I yield you the last word on this, ....for I have no need of it.
      And to Anon @ 14:45: I wish you well in your search for maturity. I appreciate the sarcasm. Indeed sir, or madam, you display such wit that you may be half right.

    4. Meh, MMM.... Meh

    5. Argumentum ad hominem? That's rich coming from you, MMM. I'd say that Big Mountain Micky is rattled lol

  15. I appalud MMM for sniffing out the fraud involved in the 'business' of the RCC. Pity his 'sniffing' is limited our Church.