Saint or sinner: New documentary claims to reveal Mother Teresa's dark truth

  • 09/05/2022
Mother Teresa, Saint Teresa of Calcutta.
Mother Teresa, Saint Teresa of Calcutta. Photo credit: Getty Images

Nobel Peace Prize winner and role model to many, Mother Mary Teresa has been dubbed one of the greatest humanitarians for her dedication to helping the poor. But a new documentary claims to reveal the truth behind the popular figure.

A Sky documentary titled Mother Teresa: For The Love Of God claims the Saint had a darker side.

Told through the multiple viewpoints from people who knew her well and delving into her archive and personal letters, the documentary discusses the Catholic missionary nun's complex life.

Born in 1910, Mother Teresa's family was plunged into poverty after her father died when she was eight. She took solace in the Catholic church and when she was 12 she decided to become a nun, which later lead to her founding the Missionaries of Charity, a religious congregation aimed to help the poor.

The congression was established to provide support to those in need, but as the documentary claims, there was a shift from the needs of the poor to the needs of the church's image.

At a time when the widespread institutional sexual abuse by the Catholic Church was being uncovered, Mother Teresa rejected the allegations against Donald McGuire, a former priest and convicted child molester, and wrote a letter to authorities highlighting her trust in him.

While it is unknown how much Mother Teresa knew about McGuire's abuse, the letter allowed him to abuse hundreds of boys for another decade before he was eventually convicted.

It has also been claimed that she was sent to towns to save the churches from growing scandals of child abuse perpetrated by priests.

The documentary also looks into the claims by British doctor Jack Preger, who worked with her charity, that it didn't provide proper medical care.

According to Preger, unsterilised needles were used and people were refused painkillers.

"They had the money to run a decent hospital for poor people, but they never did. They said, 'We will pray for the alleviation of pain without providing treatment'."

An integral part of her work was suffering and her nuns were forced to whip themselves and wear chains with spikes as their suffering "redeemed the world", Preger said.

Mary Johnson, who worked with Mother Teresa for two decades, said in the programme "she thought being poor was good because Jesus was poor. It's schizophrenic".

While Mother Teresa still is seen as a great humanitarian by many, questions remain about whether Mother Teresa's main goal was to help better the poor or convert as many people to the Catholic Church as possible.