POLSIS academic says Canadian researchers criticizing Mother Teresa miss the point

Posted on Monday 11th March 2013

Dr Gëzim Alpion, Lecturer in Sociology in the Department of Political Science and International Studies, who is considered "the most authoritative English-language author" on Mother Teresa, was interviewed by Nikolaj Krak of the Danish daily newspaper "Kristeligt Dagblad" on 08 March 2013 to comment on a controversial study authored by three Canadian researchers on the Albanian-born nun.

Notwithstanding the media hype, Dr Alpion argues that the article entitled "The Dark Side of Mother Teresa", published in French in the journal "Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses" in March 2013, does not reveal anything new about the controversial missionary. The fact that the media is paying so much attention to a study that largely reiterates what is already know about the nun proves once more that Mother Teresa remains newsworthy in death as much as when she was live. Rather unwittingly, Dr Alpion contends, the Canadian researchers apparently depend rather too much on the writings of Christopher Hitchens to substantiate their criticism of Mother Teresa.

Dr Alpion, whose ground-breaking book "Mother Teresa: Saint or Celebrity?" (Routledge, 2007) has been covered widely by the world media and reviewed in a number of peer-reviewed journals, welcomes the Canadian researchers’ interest in the nun but argues that time has come for Mother Teresa scholarship to relegate to a footnote under researched, biased and sensationalist vitriolic attacks of the likes of Hitches.

Dr Alpion, who has been researching the sensitive topic of Mother Teresa's spiritual darkness since 2007, and will shortly give a series of lectures on his work in progress at the Universities of Delhi and Melbourne, concluded that controversial aspects about this iconic humanitarian and religious figure should not prevent scholars from acknowledging that in a world that treats the unfortunate as 'human debris', she had the courage, stamina and farsightedness to remind mankind with her 'faith in action' of the sacredness of human dignity. Mother Teresa's work should not and cannot be quantified; the value of her work is symbolic.

More information

"Scholar claims critical report on Mother Teresa misses the point" (Danish: "Forsker: Kritisk rapport om moder Teresa misforstår det vigtigste"): www.kristeligt-dagblad.dk/artikel/501344:Udland--Forsker--Kritisk-rapport-om-moder-Teresa-misforstaar-det-vigtigste.