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Last updateTue, 17 Mar 2015 2pm

Researchers question Mother Teresa's saintly image

The legacy Mother Teresa, long considered one of the greatest humanitarians in history, has been put into question after researchers uncovered compromising details about her work.

In an article published in the Journal of Studies in Religion/Sciences, Canadian researchers Serge Larivie and Genevieve Chenard questioned Mother Teresa's care of the sick, her political contacts and management of the millions in donations she had received.

The basis for the claims is said to be more than 300 documents uncovered by Larivie and Chenard, surrounding Mother Teresa's life.

The documents allegedly reveal how the more than 500 missions for the poor and sick were really only 'homes for the dying' by visiting doctors who noted serious lapses in hygiene and an acute shortages of care as well as food and painkillers.

The researchers say however, there was no shortage of money as the foundation created by Mother Teresa continued to receive hundreds of millions of pounds.

Dr Larivie says: 'Given the parsimonious management of Mother Teresa's works, one may ask where the millions of dollars for the poorest of the poor have gone?'

He also said that her image may have been built upon a meeting in 1968 with the BBC's Malcom Muggeridge, an anti-abortion journalist who shared her staunchly Catholic values.

It was his promotion of her which led to her fame, they say.

Chenard and Larivie have also raised questions about Mother Teresa's connections to 'dubious' politicians in India    
Mother Teresa - who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize - died in 1997, one miracle short of sainthood, and was beatified by the Vatican in 2003.

The research however ignores a deeper understanding of Mother Teresa's life mission, which - as she herself had articulated on many occasions - was to infuse the world with spiritual wealth, especially at her homes for the sick and dying.

Mother Teresa repeatedly denied gifts of dishwashers and washing machines, claiming that physically caring for people was not about technology, or money, or painkillers — but about the physical labor, human contact and the spirituality involved in being with another while he or she passes away.

The researchers, too, recognize that Mother Teresa’s image, however misunderstood, was an important gift to humanity.

“If the extraordinary image of Mother Teresa conveyed in the collective imagination has encouraged humanitarian initiatives that are genuinely engaged with those crushed by poverty, we can only rejoice,” Larivie said.

- Staff Reporter

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