I want to believe that Mother Teresa didn’t proselytize.
How much ever I want to believe, evidence that I see are to the contrary.
Take a look for yourself:
An interview with her in the magazine ‘India Today’ dated 31-May-1983 goes thus :
Q : As a Christian missionary, do you adopt a position of neutrality between Christian poor and other poor ?
A : I am not neutral. I have my faith.
Q : Do you believe in conversion ?
A : To me, conversion means changing of heart by love. Conversion by force or bribery is a shameful thing. It is a terrible humiliation for anyone to give up religion for a plate of rice.
To me, she seems genuine. She is a Christian, has her faith, is open about it and declares that she is not neutral when it comes to faith even when the poor are concerned.
So much so good. But the following piece is damning:
Christopher Hitchens, an author and columnist wrote a book by name ‘The Missionary Position – Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice’.
In the book he quotes from a former nun of Missionaries of Charity Susan Shields thus : For Mother, it was the spiritual well-being of the poor that mattered… In the homes for the dying, Mother taught the sisters how to secretly baptize those who were dying. Sisters were to ask each person in danger of death if he wanted a ‘ticket to heaven’. An affirmative reply was to mean consent to baptism. The sister was then to pretend she was just cooling the person’s forehead with a wet cloth, while in fact she was baptizing him, saying quietly the necessary words. Secrecy was important so that it would not come to be known that Mother Teresa’s sisters were baptizing Hindus and Moslems’.
Even after this, I am prepared to hold the Mother in great admiration. She, as a Christian, followed her faith’s dictum to convert. But she did lot more good to the dying than any other person in Calcutta.
So, what if she converted the dying after having taken care of the uncared for leper and the destitute and the like?
If she had converted people, forgive her, for she has cared for those that the other communities had abandoned.
If her organization has embezzled millions of dollars, forgive it , for it has saved at least some from disease.
If Missionaries of Charity has hobnobbed with dictators, forgive , for it has cared for the terminally ill patients.
In essence, forgive them, forgive her.