Indian archbishop slams RSS chief over Mother Teresa conversion claim

Published: February 25, 2015
The archbishop of Kolkata Thomas D'Souza said the Nobel peace laureate "wanted to give dignity to the poor and the sick and dying." PHOTO: AFP

The archbishop of Kolkata Thomas D'Souza said the Nobel peace laureate "wanted to give dignity to the poor and the sick and dying." PHOTO: AFP

KOLKATA: The archbishop of Kolkata on Wednesday condemned claims by a prominent Hindu group that Mother Teresa’s work was motivated by a desire to convert Indians to Christianity.

Thomas D’Souza said the Nobel peace laureate “wanted to give dignity to the poor and the sick and dying,” calling the claims by the head of the right-wing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) “absolutely false”.

“She believed that every person is created in the image and likeness of God,” he said. “Whatever Bhagwat [RSS chief] has said is absolutely false.”

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat sparked protest in India when he said this week that the true motive behind the nun’s work was that its beneficiaries should turn to Christianity.

Mother Teresa won global acclaim for her work in the slums of Kolkata and is still revered by Indians of all faiths.

Bhagwat’s comments come at a time of heightened sensitivity over religious freedom in India, where churches and a Christian school have been attacked in recent months.

The RSS is a key supporter of India’s Hindu nationalist Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, who recently promised to crack down on religious violence and ensure freedom of worship for all faiths.

Modi had been heavily criticised for not speaking out earlier against religious violence and has also faced flak for remaining silent about a recent spate of mass “re-conversions” of Christians and Muslims to Hinduism.

Sunita Kumar, spokesperson for Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, told AFP that Bhagwat’s comments were “very sad” and called him “ill-informed”.

“I am a devout Sikh. I never witnessed any conversion or felt that there was a covert or overt design to convert people to Christianity,” said Kumar, who worked closely with Mother Teresa before the nun’s death in 1997.

“She preached to serve the poor and to care for the sick and dying.”

Critics of Modi’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have voiced fears about a rise in influence of Hindu hardliners.

Modi joined the RSS in his youth and the organisation campaigned heavily for his party at last year’s general election, which it won in a landslide.

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Reader Comments (5)

  • Stranger
    Feb 25, 2015 - 8:15PM

    RSS should have some shame. Looks like they spare no body for their myopic propoganda. Recommend

  • dada
    Feb 25, 2015 - 9:27PM

    Teresa cam from Albania. Google on Albania and its history. Albania has been a criminal den of Europe with prostitution, women traficking and drug peddling and use very rampant. A saint or well intentioned would first take care of home before setting out distant colonized people. Even as late as in 1943, more than 3 Million Bangalis died because of artificial drought created by colonizer British by confiscating grains grown by the Bangali farmers and hoarding it for their war effort. There were many missionaries harvesting Bangali souls and also many Communists with yet another alien book (Das Capita) in hand, how many of these gentle well emeaning folks protested this atrocity in Bangal?Recommend

  • Gangadas
    Feb 26, 2015 - 12:34AM

    ”Mother Teresa had a great opportunity to move forward the commandment of Lord Jesus Christ,’Thou shalt not kill’.Unfortunately she never stopped condoning the slaughter of the poor animals! Whenever you see a dichotomy such as ‘serve the poor but kill the animals’,you have to understand that actually there is no love of God,no love of man,no love of animals.The agenda is something entirely different!!”Recommend

  • FAZ
    Feb 26, 2015 - 8:27PM


    Spot on you two! I as a true and patriotic Pakistani, hope all of india think like you, live like you and strive for Hindutva!!Recommend

  • zara haq
    Feb 28, 2015 - 9:27PM

    @ dada
    I totally agree with you. I too hope all india thinks like you.Recommend

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