Today seems like a strange time to defend St. Teresa of Calcutta, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.
Actually, my goal in a post earlier this week -- then in our "Crossroads" podcast (click here to tune that in) -- was not to defend the tiny Albanian nun who dedicated most of her life to serving poor people who were dying in a dark corner of Calcutta. There are plenty of articulate, qualified people who have spent decades studying the fine details of her life and work who can defend her.
Yes, there are also critics who have spent decades developing detailed arguments for criticizing her, especially when it comes to the messy medical details of life and death inside the Home for the Dying. Both sides of that debate are worth attention.
Of course, there are Catholics who totally embraced Mother Teresa's defense of church doctrines on subjects such as contraception, abortion and the authority of church leaders -- including herself in her role as founder of the Missionaries of Charity. But there are Catholics on the left who believe she abused that power and that she should have used her clout to fight for social change in India and around the world.
Many doctrinal conservatives were upset that Mother Teresa and her sisters didn't strive to convert Hindus and Muslims to the Christian faith. There are others on the left who are just as upset that, when people whose lives she touched wanted to know about Christianity, she was more than willing to help them convert.
So what's the bottom line here? In the earlier post and the podcast, I stressed that it is totally appropriate to cover the controversies that surrounded Mother Teresa's life, as well as covering her fame as a living saint -- in the eyes of millions -- who served the poorest of the poor. What I questioned is media coverage that discusses the facts raised by her critics, without turning to authoritative voices on the other side to offer their side of this debate.
Take that CNN piece about her critics.