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Mother Teresa

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Mother Teresa (August 26, 1910 - September 5, 1997), also known as Mother Teresa of Calcutta was a revered Christian nun, missionary, peace advocate and anti-abortion advocate who tirelessly worked to improve the lives of the poor.

She was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in Skopje, Ottoman Empire (present-day Republic of Macedonia) of Albanian parents. At the age of 18, she attended the Christian order "Our Lady of Loreto" in Ireland. In 1928 she went to teach at a convent school in Kolkata (Calcutta), India called the "Saint Mary's High School." She spent twenty years working there. On May 24, 1932 she took her final vows at Darjeeling, India and left the convent in 1948 to receive medical training in Paris, then to work in the Indian slums. She opened "The Mission of Charity[?]" in 1950 to help Orphans. In 1957 she and her congregation began working with lepers and victims of disasters all over the world. She opened centers for the blind, sick, orphaned children and others who were in need of help.

She was awarded the Pope John XXIII peace prize in 1971 and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. An excerpt from her Nobel Prize acceptance speech:

"I choose the poverty of our poor people. But I am grateful to receive (the Nobel) in the name of the hungry, the naked, the homeless, of the crippled, of the blind, of the lepers, of all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared-for throughout society, people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone."

Other awards bestowed upon her include:

  • 1971 Prize of Good Samaritan (Boston),
  • 1971 Kennedy Prize,
  • 1972 Koruna Dut Angel of Charity (Bestowed by the President of India),
  • 1973 Templeton Prize,
  • 1974 Mater et Magistra,
  • 1975 Albert Schweitzer International Prize,
  • 1977 Doctor Honoris Causa in Technology (University of Cambridge),
  • 1980 Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honour.
  • 1982 Doctor Honoris Cause (Catholic University of Brussels),
  • 1985 US Presidential Medal of Freedom (President Reagan),
  • 1996 Honorary Citizen of the United States (She was the 4th person to ever receive this honor)

She died of natural causes in 1997 and was succeeded by Sister Nirmala[?] on March 13 of the same year. The Holy See has begun the process of beatification, the first step towards possible canonization, or sainthood.

Mother Teresa's career was not, however, without some controversy. Christopher Hitchens published a book in 1997 that offered criticisms of her activities. He accused Mother Teresa of associating with dictators and other powerful but ethically questionable persons in her quest for funding and publicity; intervening on behalf of criminals who had donated money to her causes; eliciting money which did not in fact go to help the poor; and maintaining substandard medical practices in clinics founded by her order. It should be noted that these accusations are contended by most, with the result that the character of Mother Teresa's aid to the poor is still the subject of debate in some circles.

Further reading

  • Mother Teresa et al. Mother Teresa: In My Own Words. ISBN 0517201690.
  • Kathryn Spink. Mother Teresa: A Complete Authorized Biography. ISBN 0062508253.
  • Christopher Hitchens. The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice. ISBN 185984054X.

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