Mother Teresa is dead

September 5, 2010

I confess that I do not know that many details about Mother Teresa.

I can picture her image. I have read a typical handful of news articles about her, and read bits of what she said (an address to the US National Prayer Breakfast, and her remarks at accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, for example). I find it so exhausting to stomach.

I have read only a few paragraphs of Christopher Hitchen’s attack on her reputation (“Missionary Position”, ludicrously dense in its prose).

She’s said to have dedicated her life to the poor – I’m not interesting in debating this.

She spoke against abortion. I find her remarks on this subject to be mistaken (deluded) and cruel.

She spoke against contraception. And here I find her contribution to the world to be utterly repugnant. Let that be the moment’s focus:

It’s tempting to dismiss anything a nun – pledged to chastity – has to say about matters of sexual heath and reproduction. (But, to be honest, I’m not sure that a complete lack of personal experience will, a priori, disqualify the opinions of a thinker).

Her hatred for contraception was expressed as a fear that it might undermine the proper love within a marriage, and between that couple and god. She saw contraception of any type (using the ability to choose when (or if) to have children) as undermining the purpose of sexuality: honouring god by obeying his biblical command to multiply.

The idea that procreation is sex’s only purpose is nonsense.  It is supported by nothing other than an invisible god and the faithful who claim to be able to explain his will to the rest of us.

But beyond such questions of faith, and the “purpose” of things like sexuality and marriage…

What kind of beast, in the age of HIV/AIDS, tells their followers that the use of condoms is immoral?

Even within her precious (rigid) idea of a family based on “traditional” marriage, the danger of disease still lurks. No one can be certain that their spouse has been monogamous, and therefore can never know if they are putting themselves at risk.

Mother Teresa is dead… silenced in her adopted home of Calcutta, 13 years ago today — September 5th.

You are missed, but not by me.


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