Mother Teresa of Calcutta: A Challenging Memory
If I may gloat, I am a member of the Mother Teresa Parish in India’s Delhi Archdiocese. I knew the Saint of Calcutta as a journalist in her lifetime, even argued with her on her position on abortion, and defended her in print when the editor of the country’s biggest English language newspaper sought to castigate her for supporting the cause of the Dalit Christians in the 1990s when they launched a national campaign for the restoration of their constitutional rights.
“Mother don’t divide your love,” the late Chandan Mitra, executive editor of the Hindustan Times, had said in a page one, eight-column article. The Mother had launched the Dalit movement at a rally held at the gates of the Sacred Heart Cathedral — the complex housing both the headquarters of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India and Delhi Archdiocese.
The government of the day, and her “secular” or apolitical followers did not want her to identify herself so closely with a community that has emerged from casteism within the Church, and before that, from a status that deemed them not fit to even cast their shadow on people of the upper castes. Enlightened Hindu savants had called some of the Indian provinces Hell because of the manner in which they practiced untouchability.