The Canonization of Mother Teresa

Posted on December 13, 2016 by

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For this assignment I chose to write about Mother Teresa. Mother Teresa, or, Saint Teresa, as she is called now, is best known for her missionary work in Calcutta, India. On September 4th, 2016, Mother Teresa was canonized as a saint in the Catholic church.

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To become canonized, there is a process you must go through. First, the bishop of the person-in-question’s region must decide if he things that the particular person is worthy of being a saint, and if so, he submits the info on the person to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints. At this point, the person in question is called a Servant of God. Next, the congregation can accept or decline to do their own research. If they approve, they are basically saying that the person lived a holy life while here on earth. This is when they are called Venerable. The next step requires a healing miracle to happen in the saint-to-be’s name. The miracle must be scientifically unexplained. If the Pope approves, they are declared blessed. Lastly, another miracle must take place, under the same scrutiny as the first. If this passes once again, the Pope thinks on it even further, and then he can declare a person a saint. This is the process that mother Teresa went through in order to be named a saint. While many news sites had articles on this historic event, though, not all of them seemed to agree on the overall message. Through comparison we will be able to identify the differences between these news sites.

Even though many news sites have reported on this event, not all of them took the exact same stance. While they all reported the main story, her canonization, they all went about it in a different manner, ranging from reporting in a positive manner, to a manner of great negativity.

I will be grouping the news articles depending on their stance on the event. First off, we will talk about the more negative news articles. These articles would be:

  • “Mother Teresa’s Canonization: Controversy Mars Nun’s Work”, NBC.
  • “As Mother Teresa Becomes a Saint, Controversies Linger”, National Geographic.
  • “Saint Teresa: Mother Teresa Canonized Amid Controversy”, The Week.

Let’s dissect these sources a bit before we analyze the articles. Mother Teresa embodied Christian spirit and care when she was taking care of the many thousands of people that she looked after. It would make sense if these were more liberal news sources because they would sooner criticize Christians/Catholics then conservatives would. I did not have any pre-conceived notions of these sources being very liberal, however, so we can keep moving. When analyzing these websites, the first thing that stands out right away are the titles. You can see that their point of views on this topic are going to be very negative just based on the wordage in the titles. They take an event that is supposed to be joyful into one of suspicion by adding the word “controversy” right into the beginning of the article. When reading these articles, they mention the basic storyline “Mother Teresa was canonized by the Catholic church”, “There were many people watching in the Vatican”, etc. However, you can almost sense the hastiness in the air, as if they are getting to a more important point which will contradict the specialness of the occasion, which they did. They do not waste much time before they expose the controversies of which they mentioned earlier. In the NBC article, they only waited a few sentences before stating such claims as, “Catholic devotion collided with the real needs of the impoverished people she set out to help”, and, “In the eyes of some, particularly in India, she put fame and piety before her mission of aid.” Later in the NBC article, they had this quote, “‘I personally think that she did more harm than good,’ said Chatterjee, who published a book-length critique of Mother Teresa in 2003 called Mother Teresa: The Final Verdict.” Then later, “She was very cruel in how she treated people at her home for the dying. I think she preached a very negative, very medieval, obscurantist ideology.” These claims come with no factual evidence that supports them, however, so it is hard to take these seriously, especially considering we are talking about Mother Teresa. Not one of these sites dares to make the claim that she did not administer to thousands of people in her lifetime, however, they still do their best to find fault. In National Geographic they add to this by talking about the poor living conditions, under Mother Teresa’s care. They mention how there were no pain killers used and the food was very poor in quality. From The Week article, they have a quote from the source The Guardian that sums up another aspect of controversy. They mentioned her “rather dubious way of caring for the sick, her questionable political contacts, her suspicious management of the enormous sums of money she received, and her overly dogmatic views regarding… abortion, contraception and divorce.” Regarding a point taken from the last thing they just mentioned, the article mentioned that during her acceptance speech of her Nobel Peace prize, she said, “Today, abortion is the worst evil and the greatest enemy of peace.” They tried to use this against her in the article and in my opinion this is an example of religious persecution. While I consider abortion a human rights issue, you find that usually only Christians/people of religion find issues with the concept of abortion, so this is also a religious issue. Mother Teresa cared so much for the misfortune, especially the children, that it makes perfect sense she was so opposed to abortion. But rather then looking at her compassionate side, this article chose to criticize her for this and made her out as a bad person.

What I find about these articles is just how negative you can get about a topic that is supposed to be of rejoicing and joy. In one of these articles they claim that Mother Teresa intentionally used dull needles to cause the patients more pain, as a form of torture. I am not sure what would possess someone to make a claim like this with no actual evidence, but as I was hinting at throughout, these articles are extreme examples of bias towards religion and this type of bias is something that needs to be eradicated.

These next sources are those that provide a more positive message and allow the readers to really focus on what is important without getting false information.

  • “Mother Teresa Declared a Saint by Catholic Church”, FOX.
  • “Mother Teresa declared a saint as Pope Francis lauds her in Vatican ceremony”, Los Angeles Times.
  • “Mother Teresa Declared a Saint Before Huge Crowds in the Vatican”, CNN.
  • “Mother Teresa Canonized as Saint Teresa of Calcutta”, IB Times.
  • “Mother Teresa Canonized as a Saint by Pope Francis”, WSJ.
  • “Pope Francis Canonizes Mother Teresa before St. Peter’s Square Masses”, The Guardian.
  • “Mother Teresa Declared a Saint in Vatican ceremony”, PBS.

When reporting on a certain event, I think it is important that the main idea of what you are trying to communicate, is in the title. Crazy, right? For instance, the event is the canonization of Mother Teresa. The title should look something like “Canonization of Mother Teresa”, which most of these look like. In good reporting, you should address the concerns of the other side of the argument, and also state your own side. These arguments do a good job of that. While they do not have the word “controversy” in their title, they do, for the most part, all mention something about controversy later on in the article. For the most part, however, they keep it positive and stick to the facts. In the Fox article they start it out well by saying that her (Teresa’s) main goal was to take in the unwanted people, and to same world leaders for “crimes of poverty they themselves created.” The LA Times article mentioned a little about how she received the Nobel Peace prize in 1979, despite rumors of her “shoulder rubbing” with foreign leaders. This, I think, is very important to remember when considering whether she was a good or bad person. You would think that the Nobel-Prize-Committee would do a lot of research before they start giving all of their prized possessions away. The next article is CNN. This one kind of threw me for a loop because I thought for sure CNN was going to be a negative type of news source against Catholicism. CNN has never been to fond of Christianity. However, they also focused on a more positive message, which was good to see. In the CNN article they described the situation of the canonization, such as the attendance (hundreds of nuns from the order Mother Teresa started), and the decorations on the happy day, such as the huge portrait of Mother Teresa which hung from St. Peter’s Basilica during the ceremony. The nuns in attendance later served lunch to 1,500 homeless people who were also invited out to the celebration, according to The Guardian. CNN then went into some detail about the miracles that took place in her name, such as the woman who was cured of her stomach tumor, and the man who was cured of his multiple brain tumors. In response to some of the “haters”, the Wall Street Journal has good comebacks, if you will. According to Francis Rocca, when addressing the concerns of some people that Mother Teresa cared more about her title than her work, said that he believed she did a good job of using her fame to draw attention to her cause. He also brought up the fact that Mother Teresa herself had never wanted to run a hospital. She wanted to get emergency care to the poorest of the poor, which might be why some people do not think that she gave out the best care possible. India, where she spent most of her time alive, greatly loved and appreciated this little nun. According to IB Times, she was honored by a state funeral by India, after she passed. Pope Francis summed up Mother Teresa when he said that she was a “dispenser of divine mercy,” according to PBS. Truly, she was a role model for us all when it came to caring for the less fortunate, and Pope Francis it a point to mention this as well.

While there are people out there who have problems with Mother Teresa and claim that she was not actually a good and holy person, I believe that she is as saintly as she is believed to be. Mother Teresa was the greatest saint of our time. She helped too many people and did too much work for poor communities in third world countries for people to be falsely accusing her of being a bad person and to accuse her of taking advantage of people. She spent her life in dedication to the poor, and contrary to opposing news sites, that is the “real” version of her.

 

 

References

 

Mother Teresa Declared a Saint by Catholic Church, FOX news. http://www.foxnews.com/world/2016/09/04/thousands-gather-for-canonization-mother-teresa.html.

Mother Teresa declared a saint as Pope Francis lauds her in Vatican ceremony, Los Angeles Times. http://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-mother-teresa-canonization-20160903-snap-story.html.

Mother Teresa’s Canonization: Controversy Mars Nun’s Work, NBC NEWS. http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/mother-teresa-s-canonization-controversy-clouds-nun-s-work-n641181.

As Mother Teresa Becomes a Saint, Controversies Linger, National Geographic. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/09/mother-teresa-sainthood-canonized/.

Mother Teresa Declared a Saint Before Huge Crowds in the Vatican, CNN. http://www.cnn.com/2016/09/04/europe/mother-teresa-canonization/

Saint Teresa: Mother Teresa Canonized Amid Controversy, The Week. http://www.theweek.co.uk/76222/saint-teresa-mother-teresa-canonised-amid-controversy

Mother Teresa Canonized as Saint Teresa of Calcutta, IB Times. http://www.ibtimes.com/mother-teresa-canonized-saint-teresa-calcutta-2411288

Mother Teresa Canonized as a Saint by Pope Francis, Wall Street Journal. http://www.wsj.com/articles/mother-teresa-canonized-as-a-saint-by-pope-francis-1472980320

Pope Francis Canonizes Mother Teresa before St. Peter’s Square Masses, The Guardian.  https://www.theguardian.com/news/2016/sep/04/mother-teresa-declared-saint-by-pope-francis

Mother Teresa Declared a Saint in Vatican ceremony, PBS. http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/mother-teresa-declared-saint-vatican-ceremony/

 

 

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