Mother Teresa died 10 years ago today, just days after ‘The Peoples' Princess’, Diana died under a flyover in Paris. History has been kind to them since.
Both Teresa and Diana had a lot in common – they have both been remembered for their personal suffering, their selflessness, and for good works (Mother Theresa for ‘helping the poor’ – Diana for ‘helping’ people with AIDS and boldly going where no princess had boldly gone before – into the middle of a field of landmines.
Mother Teresa is on a fast track to Sainthood – and there are still many that would like to cast Dianna as some kind of secular Saint.
There has been nearly as much coverage today in Poland of the death of Mother Theresa ten years ago as there was in the UK on the tenth anniversary of the speed crash death of Diana.
But are their reputations so deserved?
Diana has been portrayed as a victim of the media’s greed and intrusiveness – quite forgetting that she courted their attention when she wanted to. She was also a victim of a jug-eared adulterer, apparently.
And Mother Teresa?
Father Tomasz Jaklewicz of Poland's largest Catholic weekly Gosc Niedzielny told Polish Radio today::
'I think that blessed Mother Theresa is very popular in Poland. Maybe this is because she is associated with Pope John Paul II. She is one of the three persons in white - John Paul II in his white cassock, Mother Theresa in her white sari, and I would add here brother Roger of the Taize community in his white habit. These three persons constitute a kind of an icon of the Church in the 20th century. What is interesting, they are not so much like saints of the old type, whom we pray to and ask for intercession, but they are more like role models. I think each of them, in their own way, present the face of the Church that is close to people.'
Mother Teresa as role model?
Christopher Hitchens – the author of the Mother Teresa biography The Missionary Position makes comments about the Mother of Calcutta that are equally compatible (although substitute the word 'church' for 'media') to Diana, who Tony Blair once called ‘The Queen of Hearts…(puke).:
What is so striking about the "beatification" of the woman who styled herself "Mother" Teresa is the abject surrender, on the part of the church, to the forces of showbiz, superstition, and populism...
Mother Teresa was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction.
And she was a friend to the worst of the rich, taking misappropriated money from the atrocious Duvalier family in Haiti (whose rule she praised in return) and from Charles Keating of the Lincoln Savings and Loan. Where did that money, and all the other donations, go? The primitive hospice in Calcutta was as run down when she died as it always had been—she preferred California clinics when she got sick herself—and her order always refused to publish any audit.
But we have her own claim that she opened 500 convents in more than a hundred countries, all bearing the name of her own order. Excuse me, but this is modesty and humility?