Mother Teresa gets her second miracle, now on the fast track to sainthood

December 18, 2015 • 11:30 am

The Big News this morning is that Pope Francis has, miraculously, come across another miracle performed by Mother Teresa—or rather by her spirit. This gives her the second miracle she needs to go beyond beatification to full canonization, becoming Saint Teresa. The Vatican clearly put the old fraud on the fast-track to sainthood ever since she died, and now they get their chance. In the old days, it took decades or centuries from candidacy to canonization, but now, trying to court popular sentiment, the Vatican has accelerated the process.

But remember that even Mother Teresa’s first miracle was totally bogus. As I wrote in Faith Versus Fact:

The Vatican itself, which requires a miracle to beatify someone, and two miracles to make them a saint, is none too scrupulous about the medical evidence needed to elevate someone to the pantheon. The beatification of Mother Teresa, for instance, was the supposed disappearance of ovarian cancer in Monica Besra, an Indian woman who reported she was cured after looking at a picture of the nun. It turns out, though, that her tumor wasn’t cancerous but tubercular, and, more important, she’d received conventional medical treatment in a hospital, with her doctor (who wasn’t interviewed by the Vatican) taking credit for the cure.

(See also the objections of Indian rationalists to this “evidence.”)

Now, just in time for Christmas, the Pope has recognized a second miracle. The BBC reports:

Pope Francis has recognised a second miracle attributed to Mother Teresa, clearing the way for the Roman Catholic nun to be made a saint next year.

The miracle involved the healing of a Brazilian man with several brain tumours in 2008, the Vatican said.

Mother Teresa died in 1997 and was beatified – the first step towards sainthood – in 2003.

. . . “The Holy Father has authorised the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to proclaim the decree concerning the miracle attributed to the intercession of blessed Mother Teresa,” the Vatican said on Friday.

She is expected to be canonised in Rome in September.

. . . There are few details about the recovery of the Brazilian man, whose life the Vatican says was saved in the second miracle.

His identity has not been disclosed to maintain the discretion needed for the investigation, the Catholic New Agency has said.

It says he was unexpectedly cured from brain tumours in 2008 after his priest prayed for Mother Teresa’s intervention with God.

Well, before Agnes Bojaxhiu can be elevated to the Heavenly Pantheon, she has to be vetted, including examination by the genuine “Devil’s Advocate,” who militates against making her a saint. It was Christopher Hitchens who did that when Bojaxhiu was up for beatification, as described in this article.

But the procedure is not an objective examination of the miracles and saint-worthiness of Mother Teresa; it’s a pure put-up job. We can see that because the Vatican already says she’ll be a saint within a year. I wouldn’t bet against that!

The Church is none too scrupulous about these “miracles,” of course. They decide in advance that someone will become a saint, like the popular John Paul II, and then, if you look hard enough, you’ll find people willing to come forward to provide the requisite two “miracles.” It’s not even close to an objective, scientific procedure.

Even if there were no natural explanation for these “miracles,” usually involving the disappearance of a disease, isn’t it odd that those diseases happen to be the ones that can show spontaneous remission anyway? Nobody gets canonized for helping legs or eyes grow back. And in the case of Mother Teresa’s first miracle, the “remission” occurred after medical treatment, and the disease was misdiagnosed anyway.

Catholics should be ashamed of themselves for buying into this bogus vetting of saints. For, after all, this is not just an earthly honor, for sainthood is not supposed to be bestowed on an individual by the Church, but recognized as a special sign of holiness and God’s favor. And once you’re a saint, you have special access to God, and therefore praying to saints gives one a hotline to the divine.

What a foolish idea, and one made more foolish by the purely subjective decision that it takes at least two miracles to confer—excuse me, recognize—sainthood, and by the arbitrary and tendentious way these miracles are recognized.


h/t: Matthew Cobb

43 thoughts on “Mother Teresa gets her second miracle, now on the fast track to sainthood

  1. …just think about all the others suffering from this disease at the same time in history yet god says to hell with them

    1. Mother T the puppet. Ironic, that I can fewer people on this planet regulating the lives of others in such an despicable manner as that person. What a selfish ¡(*^†!.

  2. Coincidence that this comes nearly four years to the day of the anniversary of the death of MT’s de facto advocatus diaboli, Christopher Hitchens?

  3. In the old days, it took decades or centuries from candidacy to canonization, but now, trying to court popular sentiment, the Vatican has accelerated the process.

    With the Rock n’Roll hall of fame elections just behind us, it strikes me that if the RCC was concerned about faddism they could simply implement a rule similar to the one R&RHoF uses; you must wait 25 years for consideration. There they use ‘first record,’ but here we could use ‘death.’ Of course in this case that might not have made any difference, as in 2022 I’m sure she’ll be just as popular with Catholics as she is at the end of 2015.

    1. Or they could comprise by adopting the eligibility requirements of the original Hall of Fame (baseball) — 10 years after retirement. (In a just world, Mother T would probably be consigned to a Pete Rose-style fate: permanent banishment for conduct unbecoming.)

  4. I think there’s another thing about this process that’s weird.

    Once Mother Teresa becomes a saint, she gets special access to God, so she can intercede for people with God when they pray to her. Presumably God thus needs this earthly process to decide for Him whether a person is worthy to approach him as an intercessor – it’s not something He can manage himself.

    This is actually part of the medieval saints’ cults thing, especially the extreme Marian devotion that started then. Ordinary people were taught they weren’t good enough to pray directly to God – that was a privilege reserved for the upper nobility and royalty.

    In my opinion, it was a way of reinforcing people’s place in society in a time when social mobility, especially upwards, was seen as against the will of God.

      1. 🙂

        Well, since it’s only about the 76 millionth incoherency, I doubt the one I’ve pointed out is going to do too much damage. Unfortunately.

    1. The papacy was open to aristocrats only. And if you wanted to become Pope, you had to spend exorbitant sums of money to impress the right people

      I was watching a program on Italian gardens, and this one garden, of a medieval cardinal who had campaigned for the office of Pope, was worth something like 300 million in modern dollars

      I also recall hearing, from an RCC insider, that priests are more valuable than parishioners, which is one of the reasons why child sex abuse was and is allowed to continue. The priest is closer to God in the hierarchy, and, no matter what he does, will always be more valuable as a person than a mere child.

      1. Yep! And priests are protected to maintain confidence in the Church as an institution. All parishioners are good for is proving money to buy power. And just remember the huge number of scandals the RCC has been at the centre of over the years. Imagine if any other business protected tens of thousands of rogue employees because it was better for society? Such an excuse would be universally derided.

      2. Yep, the papacy was a plutocracy. Just ask the Borgia and Medici families (half a dozen popes between them).

        Hey, the Vatican bank has to have something on deposit, the Swiss Guard something to guard.

  5. We’re not allowed to know the things that we need to know to check the validity of the claim. Another example of how different the ways are in which theologians and scientists search for truth. Needless to say, only the scientists succeed.

  6. I recall reading recently about a woman, Brazilian I think, who reported that the pope, during a walk about, touched her baby’s forehead. The following morning she discovered that his cancer had gone into recession.

    There is no mention of what type of cancer it was, whether it actually was cancer, what conventional treatment he’d been receiving, so nothing to judge the validity of the story. I also wonder if there’d have been a reporting of the story had, the following morning, it been discovered that the baby was HIV positive.

  7. Surprised the church hasn’t milked this nonsense further … “And it appears St. Gertrude of Bohemia has notched her 51st miracle, making her the 94th dead do-gooder to achieve ‘Uber-Sainthood’. Congrats St. G!”

  8. I went checking for Hitchens’ “Missionary Position” at my local library, but it was not listed in the catalog of the entire system. I have to wonder if someone might have removed it to save us all from having our eyes burned out.

  9. Anjezë Bojaxhiu made people suffer for her magic, in the terms of the magic practitioners being a ‘devil’.

    But else, maybe it is me, but every time I see articles about the magic process I read it as “quainthood”.

  10. Mother Teresa’s fame in the West is heavily due to the influence of British right-wing pundit Malcolm Muggeridge and his documentary “Something Beautiful for God” (with a tie-in book.)
    I have always found Muggeridge to be horribly sanctimonious and an enormous distorter of religious history. (MM was also one of the most outspoken opponents of Monty Python’s “Life of Brian”, which pained John Cleese in part because he thought the younger Muggeridge to be a very genuinely witty satirist.)

    Some of Teresa’s perfidies were brought to Christopher Hitchen’s attention by a nun who worked for her and was really appalled by things that were going on.

    Hitchens seems to have developed a more charitable view of Teresa after the publication of her letters in which she expressed a great deal of sense of depression and darkness.

    I did not see the movies about Teresa starring Geraldine Chaplin (daughter of Charlie) or Olivia Hussey (who has oddly played both the mother of Jesus AND the mother of Psycho’s Norman Bates), but I DID see the recent one starring Juliet Stevenson entitled “The Letters” which is in part based on the above-mentioned letters. It is nonetheless a whitewash, and a missed opportunity, because all the elements of those letters which caused Hitchens to mellow his views on Teresa are glossed over.
    (The film also marks atheist actor Max von Sydow’s second performance as a very saintly Catholic priest, though he played a deeply neurotic and insensitive clergyman in “Hawaii”. He was also Jesus in “The Greatest Story Ever Told”.)

    1. Very interesting comment, thank you.

      Max von Sydow has long been a favorite of mine. He makes every movie he has been in worth watching, even the bad ones! I had no idea he was an atheist. That is good to hear.

      1. Agreed on von Sydow. Now there’s an actor with presence — from his early films with Bergman right up to (probably) his role in this new Star Wars movie.

      2. I did not mention that Sydow has literally portrayed both Jesus and Satan, the latter in the film version of Stephen King’s “Needful Things” which I suppose outdoes Olivia Hussey’s portrayal of both the mother of Jesus and the mother of Norman Bates, the latter in the well-written, but perfunctorily directed “Psycho IV: The Beginning”.

        (John Hurt has technically played both Jesus and the emperor Caligula- the latter in “I, Claudius”- but I’m not sure if playing Jesus in Mel Brook’s “History of the World, Part I” really counts.)

        1. As did Malcolm McDowell in, well, Caligula.

          I’m not sure if McDowell was an allegorical devil, Job, or Jesus as Alex Delarge in Clockwork Orange — maybe each in turn over the film’s three-act structure.

          1. In the film, when Alex gets arrested by two former mates who are now policemen, he is between the two policemen, and if you look closely their badge numbers are 665 on the left and 667 on the right.

  11. Somewhat off topic, but here’s a Hitchens interview just uploaded the other day. It should start about 22 mins — a priest, wisely not using his surname and going only by “Reverend Tim” phones in and starts hectoring Hitchens, with predictable results for poor Reverend Tim from — appropriately — Blandford.

    (Apologies to the host if this is too far off topic.)

    1. Rev Tim: How could this be a delusion, because I don’t think I am a smart enough person to delude that many people.

      Hitch: That could well be right.

    2. He makes glorious use of the word “recrudescence”. More usually, a medical term meaning a more severe relapse after a period of remission.

  12. Has the church discussed her particular interests and advocacy? Perhaps she could become the patron saint of sexually transmitted viral epidemics, unsustainable overpopulation and unnecessary suffering. These are all areas in which the Catholic Church is a principal stakeholder, so a well qualified specialist saint could ensure that God’s will is interpreted correctly in these areas.

  13. Has anyone tried to compile a statistic of [number of prayers offered up to Mother Teresa] vs [number of successful results].
    (Ok, I know that’s impractical, but I’ll bet the first number is in the tens of thousands).

    I think the answer might demonstrate that Mother T is rather less efficacious than homeopathy or apricot kernels or even just going out on the booze every night.


  14. “What a foolish idea, and one made more foolish by the purely subjective decision that it takes at least two miracles …”

    Based on the above quote, I assume that you are unfamiliar with the “Catholic Charismatic Renewal”. Those superstitious fools desperately want *more* Catholic miracles declared. Conveniently, the Vatican sets up a sub-benthic bar to “leap over” to achieve sainthood.

    As at least one scientist said quite some time ago: Show people how to destroy their own power of reason and some will eagerly finish the job on their own.

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