by Brad Nelson 9/2/16
Kevin Williamson has a good article that brought to my attention that Mother Teresa of Calcutta will, on Sunday, be recognized as a saint by the Catholic Church. Kevin thoughtfully writes:
Mother Teresa was an uncompromising opponent of putting the unborn to death in the service of sexual and economic convenience, and for that many people will never forgive her. Her critics will make the same argument made by Margaret Sanger, the eugenicist who founded Planned Parenthood and enshrined her pseudoscientific views therein: Think of all the misery that might have been averted if the people suffering from that misery had never existed! “I am going to make you wish you were never born!” is a bully’s threat, not a philosophy of community life. But that idea remains very much with us, and, these being perverse times, it is the people who oppose that idea who are denounced as cruel, inhumane, or fanatical.
Mother Teresa’s challenge was twofold: to help those suffering avoid falling into the error of being sorry they had been born, and to help the rest of us avoid falling into the error of being sorry that had been born, or merely acting as though we were sorry they had been. When anti-abortion activists talk about the “seamless garment” of human life and human dignity, this is what they are talking about.
But we like finding the seams.
Poverty, contrary to the bedtime stories we like to tell ourselves, is not ennobling. It is a safe bet that many of the people Mother Teresa and her sisters have helped over the years were not especially good people, and that some of them were simply bad people. Perhaps you’ve seen something like this yourself, volunteering at a homeless shelter or a soup kitchen. For many people, the main problem presented by doing charity work is the sort of people one encounters. We are not supposed to talk about it, but the people helped by food banks and the like have a strange and powerful talent for changing one’s mind about the virtue of helping people at all. That certainly has been my experience, which is one of the many reasons you can pencil in my canonization for never.
Rest in splendid peace, St. Teresa. May you be standing with the angels.
Brad is editor and chief disorganizer of StubbornThings.
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