Calcutta, Nov. 29: A report in today’s Daily Telegraph of London says that Mother Teresa’s personal writings reveal she was “tormented by a crisis of belief for 50 years”, and that her previously unpublished letters and diaries are being brought out in a volume next month in Italy.
The report, authored by Bruce Johnston in Rome, adds that her writings “present a completely different picture of the nun and Nobel peace prize winner from her public image as a woman confident of her faith”. It even says that “biographies would have to be rewritten to take the revelation into account”.
The report, which says these writings were collected by Roman Catholic authorities in Calcutta after her death five years ago, has quotes purportedly written by her. “My smile is a great cloak that hides a multitude of pains,” she had written in 1958.
In another letter, she had written: “The damned of Hell suffer eternal punishment because they experiment with the loss of God…. In my own soul, I feel the terrible pain of this loss. I feel that God does not want me, that God is not God and that he does not really exist.”
But Roman Catholic authorities, who conducted the hearings and investigations as the first step of her beatification process, say the report has distorted Mother Teresa’s writings.
Contacted by The Telegraph in Rome, Father Brian, who was heading the investigations in Calcutta, said the report had quotes from an Italian book on Mother’s writings, and not her diary.
“The writings have been translated twice, once from English to Italian and again into English. In the process, the interpretation of Mother’s notes have been twisted around.” Father Brian explained that these quotes were mostly contained in letters written by her to Jesuit priests like Father Joseph Neuner and Father Le Joly, whom she used to approach for spiritual solace and strength.
Father Brian said a correct interpretation of her writings and a clarification of the Daily Telegraph’s report would be put up on “our website (www.motherteresacause.info) by Monday”. He explained that one must have an understanding of Christian spiritual life to realise what Mother’s writings meant.
Mother House is aware of the report and has dismissed it as a misinterpretation of her writings. Several others who have been associated with Mother Teresa for years during her lifetime have dismissed the report as “absolutely ridiculous”.
Sunita Kumar, who had known her and has worked with the Missionaries of Charity for about 30 years, said all this was “hype at a time when the beatification process” was in an advanced stage. “I have never seen her sad, let alone even hinting that she doubted her faith in God.”
Father Albert of Archbishop House, who used to meet Mother Teresa every week till a year before she died, pointed out that one must take into account at what juncture the notings were made.
“For example, the suffering that she saw on the streets of Calcutta in 1958 must have prompted her to write ‘my smile is a great cloak that hides a multitude of pains’.”