On, Sunday, September 4, 2016, Pope Francis canonized Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu AKA “Mother” Teresa of Albania, the Catholic Church officially from then on recognizing her as a “saint.”
ROME — This Sunday, Pope Francis will canonize Mother Teresa as a saint, one of the highest honors in the Roman Catholic Church. Tens of thousands of people are expected to fill St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican for the ceremony to a woman who lived her life dedicated to the poorest of the poor. (CBS News)
The scene will be quite the spectacle, and since world attention will once again be on Rome, the Vatican, the Pope, and Catholicism, it seems to be a good time to remind folks that Catholicism is not Christianity. All born-again believers in Jesus Christ are saints already (1 Corinthians 1:2, Ephesians 2:19), because Jesus declares us so and not because a Church declared us so. Finally, Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu AKA “Mother” Teresa, who died in 1997, is almost certainly in hell.
CREDIT: Gianni Foggia/AP
Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu was a Roman Catholic nun who labored throughout the twentieth century ostensibly for the poor. She founded the Missionaries of Charity, and set her sphere in the middle of the poorest neighborhood in the poorest city of one of the poorest nations, Calcutta, India offering aid to those in direst poverty at the end of their life. She won the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1979, and some have even nominated her name on lists of the twentieth century’s greatest person. And now, the richest and world’s only absolute monarchy wielding the most absolute power will proffer the highest prize to one of its members, canonization.
In the Catholic Church (both Latin and Eastern Churches), the act of canonization is reserved to the Holy See and occurs at the conclusion of a long process requiring extensive proof that the person proposed for canonization lived and died in such an exemplary and holy way that he or she is worthy to be recognized as a saint. The Church’s official recognition of sanctity implies that the persons are now in heavenly glory, that they may be publicly invoked and mentioned officially in the liturgy of the Church, most especially in the Litany of the Saints, (Source)
Put another way, as the Catholic Encyclopedia says,
The Catholic Church canonizes or beatifies only those whose lives have been marked by the exercise of heroic virtue, and only after this has been proved by common repute for sanctity and by conclusive arguments. The chief difference, however, lies in the meaning of the term canonization, the Church seeing in the saints nothing more than friends and servants of God whose holy lives have made them worthy of His special love. … Catholics … honour the saints because of the Divine supernatural gifts which have earned them eternal life,
It also must include proof that the Catholic person being considered for canonization had performed at least two miracles.
The question remains, from a born-again, Christian point of view, during her long tenure through the twentieth century, was Agnes Bojaxhiu–
–a spiritual help to the lost and dying poor of Calcutta?
–a temporal help to the impoverished and ill of Calcutta?
Spiritually, Agnes Bojaxhiu was Catholic, a Catholic’s Catholic. John MacArthur and his family met her in Calcutta, and MacArthur said of the visit,
Mother Teresa was very true to her Catholic faith. I was – my family and I went to visit her when we were in Calcutta. We gave her a copy of the book The Gospel According To Jesus, and it was an interesting occasion. She’s a very gracious woman, very strong, very gracious little four-foot lady. And the kids wanted to give her this book and so they did, and she said she would read it, but Mother Teresa was very, very true to her Catholic faith. She’s a very true Catholic. She understood Catholicism very well. In the front of a Bible which she autographed, she wrote, “May you enter into the heart of Jesus through the Virgin Mary,” and signed her name. So she believed that salvation is by virtue of Mary. And that’s very true of the Catholic faith.
More specifically, Agnes Bojaxhiu did not believe in the exclusivity of the Gospel,
If in coming face to face with God we accept Him in our lives, then we become a better Hindu, a better Muslim, a better Catholic, a better whatever we are. What God is in your mind you must accept. (Source)
In one of her more strange quotes, Agnes said, “If I ever become a Saint–I will surely be one of ‘darkness.’ I will continually be absent from Heaven–to light the light of those in darkness on earth,” she said, according to Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light, whose author described it as her “mission statement.” (source) This demonstrates a dramatic misunderstanding of who Jesus is in His sovereignty, and of our human destiny as one of only two places after death, heaven and hell.
Even more specifically, in a speech she delivered to the Worldwide Retreat For Priests in October of 1984 she made the following quotes:
a) “At the word of a priest, that little piece of bread becomes the body of Christ, the Bread of Life.”
b) “Without a priest, without Jesus going with them, our sisters couldn’t go anywhere.”
c) “When the priest is there, then can we have our altar and our tabernacle and our Jesus. Only the priests put Jesus there for us. … Jesus wants to go there, but we cannot bring him unless you first give him to us. This is why I love priests so much. We could never be what we are and do the things we do without you priests who first bring Jesus to us.”
d) “Mary … is our patroness and our Mother, and she is always leading us to Jesus.” The Myth of Mother Teresa.
In just these four quotes we get a glimpse of beliefs that contradict so many gospel truths. We see a belief in transubstantiation (that the bread of communion actually becomes the body of Christ) and her belief that Christ is present in this bread. We also see her belief that Mary, the mother of Jesus, is a mediator between God and ourselves (see Catholic Catechism, paragraph #969, #1172 and #494) and as such, plays a role in our salvation. The Myth of Mother Teresa.
Even liberal NPR notes that the Catholics hold an unusual stance regarding mediation of mere humans in heaven for other humans on earth, as you see in the pull quote below.
No other Christian denomination posits this notion of an individual in heaven mediating between God and humanity. NPR
As Agnes worked with the poor, she had an extraordinarily rich opportunity to offer spiritual hope and peace to those trapped in filth, poverty, and hopelessness. Sadly, she did not believe in evangelizing.
We never try to convert those who receive [aid from Missionaries of Charity] to Christianity but in our work we bear witness to the love of God’s presence and if Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists, or agnostics become for this better men — simply better — we will be satisfied. (Myth of Mother Teresa)
So you see, the spiritual help of this woman whom the world and the Catholics love, was no help at all.
Temporally, her health aid to the sick and dying of Calcutta is also under scrutiny. Though she did dedicate herself to the poor and did help many people, her approach did not help many others.
But another volunteer, Hemley Gonzalez, said the charity sometimes added to the misery. Gonzalez now runs his own aid group in Kolkata but spent two months in 2008 working with Mother Teresa’s organization. “I saw nuns washing needles with tap water and reusing them on patients, I saw facilities without doctors or nurses on staff. I saw volunteers like myself without any medical training being put in situations that were very difficult,” Gonzalez said. Today, Gonzalez pushes for better care and greater financial transparency at Mother Teresa’s charity.
This author at Patheos, who uses very harsh language regarding the five-foot missionary to the poor, accused Agnes of medical malpractice and quotes
Dr. Aroup Chatterjee, a London-based physician, and author of “Mother Teresa: The Untold Story,” which gives extensive evidence that the Missionaries of Charity ran inadequate facilities and often offered little comfort to those it was trying to help. Dr. Chatterjee said he found a “cult of suffering” in homes run by Mother Teresa’s organization, with children tied to beds and little to comfort dying patients but aspirin.
The pagans will do what pagans will do. They cannot please God with their works, and though they may try to fool man, in the end quite often their sins, errors, or even their malpractice comes out. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 5:12,
For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?
And “Mother” Teresa, Pope Francis and those Catholic Cardinals and Bishops involved in the process to investigate her position her as a saint, are most assuredly outside the church. However, it is good to remember that appearances are deceiving, and “Mother” Teresa’s life is an example of such a deception. Works will not earn you heaven. Man’s applause and regard will not earn you heaven. Longevity in your designated charity will not earn you heaven.
What will earn you heaven? Nothing. Nothing except the God-given gift of the ability to respond to Jesus Christ, His atoning work on the cross, and His resurrection. (Romans 9:16, Acts 13:48).
As the celebration of Mother Teresa AKA Agnes Bojaxhiu erupts in Rome, many will be attracted by her life-long work with the poor and the RCC’s teaching that works are part of our salvation. Many might become interested in what the Catholic Church teaches. Its undeniable attraction of pomp, the steady hand of a ‘Father’ on earth in the form of the Pope, (literally, Latin: papa, childhood word for father), the ceremonies and glitter, and the possibility of being worshiped as a Saint will attract the weak and unstable. (2 Peter 3:16).
The truth is much more simple and profound. The Lord saves us and the Lord glorifies us.
For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. (Romans 8:29-30).
The simplicity and profundity of the salvation by the Lord Jesus Christ is more than enough for me.