Last September, Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu (more favourably known as Mother Teresa) was canonised by Pope Francis before tens of thousands of adoring fans, despite the controversial and injurious legacy she left behind. One cannot blame her supporters for their ignorance about her dangerous shortcomings—she was after all consistently displayed by the media and the Church as a compassionate samaritan who devoted her life to serving and assisting the poor, attracting a universal admiration which, as Hitchens put it, “few have since had the poor taste to question”.¹ But what of her numerous views and actions which acted as bottlenecks in the processes of peace and secular humanity? Remarkably, but not surprisingly, they all seem to have either been forgotten about, or become encompassed by the blanket of corrupt misrepresentation and hyperbole which surround her character. In addition to this, certain more questionable aspects of Bojaxhiu’s crusade have somehow developed into a source of much contemptible praise from many of those whom she manipulated with her fraudulent demeanour and unwarranted political influence. An example of one such aspect, and one which I find to be especially dangerous and short-sighted, is her stance on the use of contraceptives. I wish not, however, to focus this discussion on the sexual advice of this particular virgin, and would rather steer it towards the institution from which these views originated: Holy Mother Church.
In 2010, Christopher Eric Hitchens was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus, and until his death eighteen months later, he “wrote on politics and culture, astonishing readers with his capacity for superior work even in extremis”, as it is worded in the blurb of Mortality; a soberingly candid summary of this extraordinary man’s intrepid attempts to comprehend and come to terms with the diagnoses of a particularly cruel disease which was vehemently attempting to bring him to his premature demise.
Have you ever noticed that there’s a stunning correlation between a person’s place of birth and their religious affiliation? Have you ever noticed that there’s a stunning correlation between someone’s parent’s religious beliefs and their own? I can’t count the amount of times that upon asking a theist why they subscribe to a particular religion I’ve been met with the response of ‘well, that’s just because I was born into it’. It’s amazing how often times religious people can so effortlessly point out the flaws in the doctrines of others, yet fail entirely to apply precisely the same rudimentary critical thinking to their own faith.