She is remembered as a beacon of compassion for the poor – but Mother Teresa’s saintly image could have been a myth.The Nobel Peace Prize winner’s 517 missions have ‘a rather dubious way of caring for the sick’, researchers have claimed.
Those in Calcutta lacked hygiene, food and painkillers doctors found – despite her Missionaries of Charity foundation raising hundreds of millions of pounds.
Large sums were also transferred to secret accounts and – although Mother Teresa offered prayers to victims of natural disasters in India – they allegedly received no cash or direct aid.
The nun also held ‘overly dogmatic views’ on abortion, contraception and divorce, according to researchers from Montreal and Ottawa universities.
Her ‘questionable political contacts’ included a grant from Haiti’s Duvalier dictatorship, they added.
Serge Larivie and Genevieve Chenard, who studied 300 documents surrounding her life.
Dr Larivie said her celebrated image could have come about after a meeting in 1968 with anti-abortion journalist Malcolm Muggeridge, who shared her right-wing Catholic values.
He added: ‘If the extraordinary image of Mother Teresa conveyed in the collective imagination has encouraged humanitarian initiatives that are genuinely engaged with those crushed by poverty, we can only rejoice.
‘It is likely she has inspired many humanitarian workers whose actions have truly relieved the suffering of the destitute and addressed the causes of poverty and isolation without being extolled by the media.
‘Nevertheless, the media coverage of Mother Teresa could have been a little more rigorous.’
Born Agnes Gonxha in Albania, Mother Teresa spent much of her life in Calcutta.
She was beatified in 2003, six years after the 87-year-old’s death, and is one miracle away from sainthood.