There is very little a humble editorial writer could say that would do real justice to the life and work of Mother Teresa of
To suggest that this champion of the poor and unwanted influenced so many people in a positive way would only scratch the
surface of her remarkable achievement. Her death on September 5 has taken from this world a genuine inspiration not only for
Roman Catholics, but for anyone concerned with bettering the predicament of the millions of our brothers and sisters who are
denied even basic comforts.
In a society which looks for heroes, and then practically delights in tearing them down, Mother Teresa became a
counter-cultural role model who rejected the materialism and secular values by which so many others define success.
This is not to suggest the Missionaries of Charity founder adopted a lordly or holier-than-thou attitude towards others. She
strove for a Christ-like acceptance of anyone with whom she came into contact. Those who described Mother Teresa as a
ruthless administrator, or as someone too friendly with dictators and pompous potentates, would do well to remember one of
her most moving quotations: “I see God in every human being. When I wash the leper’s wounds, I feel I am nursing the Lord
Himself. Is it not a beautiful experience?” And with Mother Teresa, it wasn’t just words, but concrete action.
The pro-life, pro-family community has much to celebrate in the life and work of Mother Teresa. Her longstanding commitment
to an orthodox faith, her defence of the unborn, and her rejection of contraception and extra-marital sex were much-needed
bulwarks against the seeping secularism of this generation.
Her oft-repeated phrase: “The fruit of abortion is nuclear war,” undoubtedly pricked the consciences of radical feminists and
abortion rights advocates, who were loath to associate their progressive thinking with a diminished respect for human life.
Mother Teresa’s condemnation of abortion and her views on the traditional family unit invited the only criticism liberal elements
would dare to level at such a universally admired figure. They applauded her work with the poor, but they sniped at her
orthodox Catholicity which became an obstacle to the advancement of women. And again, they would argue, how could
someone so mired in poverty and debasement reject contraception in favor of natural family planning?
Society’s tendency to devour its heroes might explain the mounting criticism that found its way into the secular press only days
after her passing. Some commentators – who gave as much thought to the poor as Mother Teresa did to material comforts –
criticized her for not doing enough to attack the root causes of poverty and injustice. One writer for a Toronto entertainment
magazine, praised Mother Teresa’s compassion and heroic empathy for the poor. At the same time however, the writer couldn’t
resist a few self-serving digs. “As a gay man,” he wrote, “I know she would never have accepted me. Unconditional love?”
In the grand scheme of things, Mother Teresa doesn’t need defending from the assorted critics who have come to the surface
since her passing. She anticipated criticism and advised her followers that their best efforts would always be met with someone’s
disapproval. Her humility, following the Christ-directed call to make one’s self lowly in service to others, was more than enough
to disarm the critical chorus.
More significantly perhaps, Mother Teresa helped those in the west understand a novel definition of poverty. In spite of a vast
array of material blessings, many in the west exhibit a spiritual poverty that shows its face in cynicism, loneliness, despair and
Perhaps this lesson above all others, will serve to inspire a new generation of pro-life, pro-family Canadians.