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The Missionary Position: Mother Theresa in Theory and in Practice

Christopher Hitchens

What's next--The Girl Scouts: The Untold Story? How could anybody write a debunking book about Mother Teresa and her Missionaries of Charity order? Well, in this little cruise missile of a book, Hitchens quickly establishes that the idea is not without point. After all, what is Mother Teresa doing hanging out with a dictator's wife in Haiti and accepting over a million dollars from Charles Keating? The most riveting material in the book is contained in two letters: one from Mother Teresa to Judge Lance Ito--then weighing what sentence to dole out to the convicted Keating--which cited all the work Keating has done "to help the poor," and another from a Los Angeles deputy D.A., Paul Turley, back to Mother Teresa that eloquently stated that rather than working to reduce Keating's sentence, she should return the money he gave her to its rightful owners, the defrauded bond-holders. (Significantly, Mother Teresa never replied.) And why do former missionary workers and visiting doctors consistently observe that the order's medical practices seem so inadequate, especially given all the money that comes in? (Hitchens acidly observes that on the other hand, Mother Teresa herself always manages to receive world-class medical care.) Hitchens's answer is that Mother Teresa is first and foremost interested not in providing medical treatment, but in furthering Catholic doctrine and--quite literally--becoming a saint.

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