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Slur on Mother Teresa in paper stuns Church

A bizarre attack on Mother Teresa published in a British newspaper last week has produced a reaction of surprise and dismay within the Church.

The article, by one of her long-term critics Christopher Hitchens (pictured), appeared in The Mirror under the headline 'Why Mother Teresa should not be a Saint' and proceeded to criticise the Vatican decision to beatify her in October.

In the article, Hitchens asks why the traditional seven-year interval between the death of a person and their beatification, the standard first step on the path to sainthood, has been ignored in this case. He notes that Mother Teresa, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, was first put forward for beatification only four years after her death and also claims only one miracle has been required of her when two are usually asked for.

Mr Hitchens' article comes after he previously published a book in which he accuses the Macedonia-born nun of exploiting her fame and receiving funding from questionable sources such as the Duvalier dictatorship in Haiti. He claims she was more interested in mixing with the rich and famous than helping the poor in Calcutta and never gave proper account of the huge sums of money donated to her.

Mr Hitchens also slams Mother Teresa's strict views on pro-life and contraception issues, and ends by saying he feels the media have created a 'collective hallucination' of her life.

But Church sources have dismissed Hitchens' criticisms, and a spokesman for the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales said Mother Teresa was 'an extraordinary woman whose goodness, humility and depth of faith are legendary.'

The Universe

Why Mother Teresa should not be a saint (The Mirror)
The Christopher Hitchens Web
Pope to move Mother Teresa closer to sainthood (20/12/02)
Pope to approve Mother Teresa miracle (Reuters)
Pope to OK Beatification for Mother Teresa (AP)
Pope keen to beatify Mother Teresa in Calcutta (17/12/02)
Mother Teresa's Cause Website
Vatican body recognises Mother Teresa miracle (2/10/02)
Miracle Approved; Beatification Set for Mother Teresa
Vatican confirms Mother Teresa 'miracle' (CNN)
Mother Teresa successor says happy for miracle nod (Reuters)
Vatican moves Mother Teresa nearer to canonisation (25/9/02)
Hundreds pray at Mother Teresa's tomb (27/8/02)
Mother Teresa beatification could occur this year (20/8/02)
Mother Teresa voted India's greatest citizen (14/8/02)
The Mother Teresa Website

15 Jan 2003