Suffering is nothing by itself. But suffering shared with the passion of Christ is a wonderful gift, the most beautiful gift, a token of love.” ― Mother Teresa, In the Heart of the World: Thoughts, Stories and Prayers

Banyak Dikutip, Siapakah Teresa?

Bersama kutipan lainnya, kutipan ini banyak dibagikan, terutama oleh mereka yang kagum dengan apa yang dilakukan oleh Agnes Bonxha (Mother Teresa) pada kaum papa di Kalkutta beberapa dekade lalu. Para pengagum tersebut berasal dari berbagai belahan dunia, berbagai denominasi ajaran agama (termasuk Gereja Katolik, yang menjadi rumah religius Mother Teresa), terutama para penduduk Kalkutta.

Mari kita lihat sekilas apa yang dikatakan orang tentang dia. Tidak sulit mencarinya karena ulasan tentangnya memang begitu melimpah. Seperti di laman Wikipedia ini.
Bunda Teresa (Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu) lahir di Üsküb, Kerajaan Ottoman, 26 Agustus 1910 – meninggal di Kalkuta, India, 5 September 1997 pada umur 87 tahun) adalah seorang biarawati Katolik Roma keturunan Albania dan berkewarganegaraan India yang mendirikan Misionaris Cinta Kasih (bahasa Inggris: Missionaries of Charity; M.C.) di Kalkuta, India, pada tahun 1950.

Selama lebih dari 47 tahun, ia melayani orang miskin, sakit, yatim piatu dan sekarat, sementara membimbing ekspansi Misionaris Cinta Kasih yang pertama di seluruh India dan selanjutnya di negara lain. Setelah kematiannya, ia mendapat gelar beata (blessed dalam bahasa Inggris) oleh Paus Yohanes Paulus II dan diberi gelar Beata .

Pada 1970-an, ia menjadi terkenal di dunia internasional untuk pekerjaan kemanusiaan dan advokasi bagi hak-hak orang miskin dan tak berdaya. Misionaris Cinta Kasih terus berkembang sepanjang hidupnya dan pada saat kematiannya, ia telah menjalankan 610 misi di 123 negara, termasuk penampungan dan rumah bagi penderita HIV/AIDS, lepra dan TBC, program konseling untuk anak dan keluarga, panti asuhan, dan sekolah. Pemerintah, organisasi sosial dan tokoh terkemuka telah terinspirasi dari karyanya, namun tak sedikit filosofi dan implementasi Bunda Teresa yang menghadapi banyak kritik. Ia menerima berbagai penghargaan, termasuk penghargaan pemerintah India, Bharat Ratna (1980) dan Penghargaan Perdamaian Nobel pada tahun 1979. Ia merupakan salah satu tokoh yang paling dikagumi dalam sejarah. Saat peringatan kelahirannya yang ke-100 pada tahun 2010, seluruh dunia menghormatinya dan karyanya dipuji oleh Presiden India, Pratibha Patil.

Popularitas Teresa: Situasi sekarang

Bagi Gereja Katolik dan jutaan rakyat Kalkutta terutama, Mother Teresa itu BENAR melakukan kebaikan bagi manusia selama pelayanannya di Kalkutta. Menjadikannya seorang kudus dan sosok yang pantas diteladani adalah puncak dari kekaguman itu.

Bagi Hitchens, Zaenab, dan kritikus lain yang menyebut bahwa Mother Teresa melakukan malpraktek dan memanfaatkan karyanya sebagai ajang mencari popularias, Mother Teresa SEHARUSNYA tidak menjadi seorang kudus. Ia penuh kecurangan.

Kritisisme yang saya tawarkan adalah ajakan untuk menggali kembali sebanyak mungkin sumber-sumber valid dari kedua belah pihak, baik yang pro maupun kontra terhadap kebaikan Mother Teresa. Berkat bantuan akses internet, kini sumber-sumber informasi tentang REALITAS karya Mother Teresa di Kalkutta hingga wafatnya pada tahun 1997 bisa diakses sama mudahnya dengan memberikan kembali umpan balik, pandangan, opini dan komentar terhadapnya.
Tidak ada jaminan untuk bersikap objektif seratus persen, bahkan kendatipun fakta yang sama hadir di depan kita.

Mengomentari Mother Teresa sebagai seorang Katolik, rentan dicap sebagai kekaguman buta.

Mengomentari Mother Teresa sebagai orang luar, bukan penduduk Kalkutta, dan bukan sebagai Katolik, rentan masuk dalam kebingungan saking bersaingnya pages di internet, hampir sama porsinya, baik dari sisi pro maupun kontra terhadap validitas karya Mother Teresa.

Bahkan, Nobel Perdamaian yang diraih Mother Teresa pun bisa dibungkam sebagai sesuatu yang dicemari oleh nuansa politis.

Sebaliknya, mengomentari Mother Teresa sebagai seorang ateis, agnostik, muslim atau kaum agama lain yang anti-Kristen (entah golongan ini ada atau tidak, setidaknya ini semantik yang banyak digunakan), rentan dianggap sebagai argumentasi yang terdorong oleh kebencian belaka. Umum ditemui bahwa pendapat mereka ini ditengarai sebagai opinionisasi a la “haters”.

Meski demikian, karena argumentasi memang tidak harus (dan tidak akan bisa) menyenangkan siapapun, apapun posisi dan latar belakang kita dalam memandang sosok Mother Teresa, tidak berarti bahwa kita sebaiknya berhenti menggali kembali:

BENAR-kah Mother Teresa memang sebaik yang diberitakan oleh banyak media massa?

Sebaliknya,

BENAR-kah Mother Teresa memang securang dan se-munafik seperti yang ditulis oleh Christopher Hitchens?

Teresa Is A Fraud?

Kritisisme yang menyoal kembali benar-tidaknya kiprah Mother Teresa bagi warga Kalkutta pada masa hidupnya mengalir deras. Bahkan sampai pada puluhan diskusi, tak terhitung banyaknya tulisan yang menyebut bahwa karya yang dilakukan oleh si Agnes Bonxha bukanlah sesuatu yang benar. Karenanya, ia tidak pantas menjadi mendapat gelar Mother Teresa, apalagi sampai menjadi Santa. Salah satu kritisisme yang paling terkenal datang dari seorang jurnalis dan polemicist, Christoper Hitchens.

Belakangan, menjelang kanonisasi Mother Teresa sebagai santa dalam Tradisi Gereja Katolik, kritisisme yang tendensius mendiskreditkan kiprah kemanusiaan Mother Teresa oleh Hitchens tersebut di-viral-kan kembali oleh banyak orang, baik dalam perbincangan di dunia nyata maupun diskusi di dunia maya, seperti yang saya alami dalam sebuah group Facebook.

Sebuah artikel yang ditulis Zaenab Akande, seorang penulis alumna University of Delaware di website Mic.com, disebarluaskan kembali secara masif. Tulisan itu berjudul: “Mother Teresa Not a Saint: New Study Suggests She Was a Fraud” (Mother Teresa Bukan Seorang Kudus: Studi Terbaru Menunjukkan Bahwa Dia Melakukan Kecurangan).

Berikut kutipan artikelnya secara utuh:

Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, known worldwide as the Blessed Mother Teresa, is often said to be a pillar of peace. With a Nobel Prize under her belt and a legacy of charity, the results of a new study may seem shocking to some.

The study was a joint effort by Serge Larivée and Genevieve Chenard from the University of Montreal as well as Carole Sénéchal from the University of Ottawa. It delves into the effective PR strategy the Vatican constructed for her while disregarding questionable methods she used to conduct her work.

A television documentary released nineteen years earlier, in 1994, brought to light similar claims by journalist and writer Christopher Hitchens. The documentary was titled Hell’s Angel, as Hitchens’ following book release in 1995 was shrewdly named The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice. He is said to be one of the many resources utilized in the study. This brings forth the conundrum — if Mother Teresa wasn’t as good as she seemed while she was still alive, then why is she a saint in the public’s eye? Larivée and his fellow collaborators practically answer this question in the form of another, “What could be better than beatification followed by canonization of this model to revitalize the Church and inspire the faithful especially at a time when churches are empty and the Roman authority is in decline?”

Beatification is the third step towards canonization — in short, making Mother Teresa an official saint of the Catholic Church. The late Pope John Paul II beautified her in 2003. Two miracles must be attributed to her outside of the one that elevated her to beatification must occur in order for her to be recognized as a saint. A miracle called by the Vatican sped up Mother Teresa’s beatification, which is usually a five-year wait. A woman with abdominal pain gave credit to a blessed trinket for aiding in her recovery when doctors countered modern medicine did the trick. In London of 1968, Mother Teresa found camaraderie in the capable hands of Malcolm Muggeridge, a journalist who held the same Roman Catholic and conservative ideas as her. Let it be noted that Mother Teresa was anti-abortion, divorce, and contraception. It was in his name gave the booming start to Mother Teresa’s career in the limelight. His influence is so profound that it has been noted that without Muggeridge, there would be no Mother Teresa.

After analyzing over 200 documents about Mother Teresa, the researchers of the study came across jarring contrasts to her reputation, one including her policy on taking care of the poor and ill.

She once said, “There is something beautiful in seeing the poor accept their lot, to suffer it like Christ’s Passion. The world gains much from their suffering,” in response to criticism pushed on by Hitchens. With money bountiful from her charity efforts, Mother Teresa was equipped with resources to give the ill that came from across the world for healing. Instead, she allowed their health to decline, without medicine to hinder pain, proper food, and cleanliness. Yet hypocrisy dictated that when Mother Teresa needed medical care, she received it in a hospital.

Furthermore, Mother Teresa seemed to favor the darkly wealthy while offering nothing but prayer to the poor. The study points out how she accepted honors and grants from Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier, a man known for the severe mistreatment of his own people while living in a bubble of luxury. When asked to return donated money from the corrupt banker Charles Keating, she remained silent and she also accepted money from Robert Maxwell, later discovered as stolen money. She had millions of dollars transferred to secret accounts to which Larivée asked once again, “Given the parsimonious management of Mother Teresa’s works, one may ask where the millions of dollars for the poorest of the poor have gone?” When floods and chemical disaster hit her home of India, there were no financial relief efforts to be found.

The ideal situation would situate Mother Teresa in an arena where she can’t be touched — but that has not and should not be the case. Everyone wishes to remember her as an idol to look up to, rather than the reality that she was a flawed human being — arguably, a fraud.

Tulisan ini cukup provokatif, dan punya beberapa nilai pencerahan. Poin positif yang bisa diambil dari artikel ini ialah upaya kritisisme tanpa henti, seperti telah dimulai sejak Hitchens (yang reportasenya dijadikan dasar penulisan oleh Zaenab), sedemikian sehingga para pengagum Mother Teresa ini membuka mata akan adanya kemungkinan lain soal apa yang sesungguhnya dilakukan oleh Mother Teresa. Tulisan ini bersama puluhan halaman lain adalah upaya menulis ulang hasil repotase Hitchens. Karenanya, kritikus yang pantas diperhitungkan dalam kontribusinya mengenai validitas karya kemanusiaan Teresa tetap Christopher Hitchens.

Konkusi Hitchens yang cukup mencengangkan ialah bahwa menurutnya Agnes Bonxha melakukan malpraktek dalam pelayanannya di Kalkutta.

Selain itu, Agnes juga dituding sengaja menyalahgunakan dana donasi yang diperuntukkan bagi karyanya dengan malah menyimpan dana itu di sebuah rekening rahasia.

Kesucian itu tidak bisa dimanipulasi atau difabrikasi.

William Doino Jr, seorang penulis Inside Vatican, menulis sebuah kritik di First Things (afiliasi dari The Institute on Religion and Public Life, sebuah lembaga riset dan pendidikan inter-religius dan non-partisan) terhadap metodologi yang dilakukan oleh Christopher Hithens untuk menanggapi kembali viralitas tentang tuduhan eksploitasi oleh Agnes Bonxha. Tanpa menjadi apologetis fanatik, William menunjukkan beberapa hal mendasar yang juga perlu diketahui publik sehingga mereka bisa melihat kembali siapa itu Agnes Bonxha: Apakah benar seperti yang ditulis dan difilm-kan oleh Hitchens.

Untuk menyeimbangkan tulisan-tulisan Hitchens sebagaimana dikutip Zaenab, disini saya muat kembali artikel William Doino.

She was called a “messenger of the love of Christ,” awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and beatified by the Holy See. But for most people, she is simply Mother Teresa, one of the most admired women of modern times.

Born as Agnes Bojaxhiu in Macedonia in 1910, Blessed Teresa came to public attention relatively late in life, but when she did, her impact was profound. In 1969, Malcolm Muggeridge hosted a BBC documentary on her, Something Beautiful for God, following it with his now-classic book of the same name. In it, he recounted the series of events that led a young Balkan girl to become a nun, found a new religious order, and become a heroic servant of the poor and dying”first in the streets of Calcutta, then all over the world. The documentary deeply moved people, and inspired a new generation of Christian activists; more than a few became Missionaries of Charity themselves.

As with all models of beauty in life, however, there are cynics who have tried to tar Mother Teresa. In the 1990s”after Muggeridge had died, but with Teresa still active”the late Christopher Hitchens launched an aggressive attack on Mother with a documentary and book aimed to inflame: Hell’s Angel and The Missionary Position. These polemics didn’t reflect the truth, but did manage to fool a number of people.

The remarkable thing about Hell’s Angelis that it purports to defend the poor against Mother Teresa’s supposed exploitation of them, while never actually interviewing any on screen. Not a single person cared for by the Missionaries speaks on camera. Was this because they had a far higher opinion of Blessed Teresa than Hitchens would permit in his film?

Avoiding the people at the heart of Teresa’s ministry, Hitchens posed for the camera and let roll a series of ad hominem attacks and unsubstantiated accusations, as uninformed as they were cruel. He called Muggeridge”one of the most acclaimed journalists of the twentieth century”an “old fraud and mountebank,” mocked his belief in the supernatural, and even referred to Mother Teresa as a “presumable virgin.”

She was denounced for meeting with unsavory politicians and businessmen, in order to assist the poor, but ironically, it is Hitchens who used the film to promote Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a notorious ex-priest whose was symbolized by corruption and abuse. Of Teresa’s travels abroad, Hitchens declared: “She may or may not comfort the afflicted, but she has certainly never been known to afflict the comfortable””but the documentary shows her doing exactly that, decrying abortion in front of affluent pro-choice audiences.

Hitchens expressed shock that Teresa encouraged victims to forgive those who harmed them, causing many to wonder whether he was aware of the basic tenets of Christianity.

The height of absurdity came when Hitchens assailed Mother Teresa for allegedly giving her heart to greater Albania, “a cause that was once smiled upon by Pope Pius IX and his friend Benito Mussolini.” It would have been hard for Pius IX to have been friends with Benito Mussolini, given that Pius died in 1878, and Mussolini was not born until 1883, but why should Hitchens be concerned about historical facts, when he was having such fun making them up?

Despite this effort to diminish Mother Teresa’s reputation, it stands as high as ever, fifteen years after her passing. Her order and affiliates continue to expand. By 2010, notes biographer Kathryn Spink there were over five thousand Missionary of Charity sisters, serving in 766 houses in 137 countries, and another 377 active brothers serving in sixty-eight houses in twenty-one countries. The Lay Missionaries of Charity, now twenty-five years old, are also growing, operating in fifty countries.

The expansion of her order speaks volumes about its integrity and effectiveness, but the support and admiration it has received has proven too much for some. On March 1, three Canadian academics”Serge Larivee, Genevieve Chenard, and Carole Senechal”released a report on Mother Teresa, renewing the criticism. A press release, darkly entitled “Mother Teresa: Anything but a Saint,” read:

In their article, Serge Larivee and his colleagues . . . cite a number of problems not taken into account by the Vatican in Mother Teresa’s beatification process, such as her “rather dubious way of caring for the sick, her questionable political contacts, her suspicious management of the enormous sums of money she received, and her overly dogmatic views regarding, in particular, abortion, contraception and divorce.”

That was not all. The researchers accused Mother Teresa of running facilities with inadequate medical care while receiving quality medical care herself, said she was more in love with poverty than helping the poor, and implied she was psychologically unstable because she suffered through bouts of doubt. For good measure, they attacked the miracle that the Church has attributed to her intervention.

After studying their report”twenty-seven pages in French”I sought out people who had known Mother Teresa, or been involved with her cause to inquire about its charges. Every single one of them told me that the Mother Teresa presented by the Canadian researchers was unrecognizable from the one they encountered, and to prove it, provided point by point rebuttals to their accusations.

Fr. Peter Gumpel, an official at the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, told me that far from overlooking criticism of Mother Teresa, the allegations were taken quite seriously, and answered:

There are mistakes made in even the most modern medical facilities, but whenever a correction was needed, Mother and the Missionaries showed themselves alert and open to constructive change and improvement. What many do not understand is the desperate conditions Mother Teresa constantly faced, and that her special charism was not to found or run hospitals”the Church has many who do that”but to rescue those who were given no chance of surviving, and otherwise would have died on the street.

But it is “absolutely false,” he stressed, to claim that she rejected or neglected available medical care for those still treatable, or good palliative care for the terminally ill. “Beware of anecdotal stories circulating from disgruntled people or those with an anti-Catholic agenda,” he warned.

Charges of financial impropriety are equally unfounded; in fact, Blessed Teresa helped raise, and spent, “enormous sums of money” on the poor, and she donated funds to the Holy See, which in turn distributed them to Catholic hospitals and other good works. Utterly bizarre was the researchers’ charge that the Vatican officials did not adequately consider her firm stands against abortion, contraception, and divorce:of course they did”and her orthodoxy was “one of the many assets in her favor.”

Commenting about the doubts Mother Teresa experienced, Gumpel asked, “Do not these researchers understand that periods of doubt, and even severe trials of faith, have affected some of the Church’s greatest saints”St. John of the Cross, Therese of Lisieux”and that persevering and overcoming them is considered one of the signs of sanctity?”

As for the miracle attributed to Blessed Teresa, “There are always skeptics who question every Vatican-approved miracle, and accuse the Church of manipulating the evidence, but the Congregation’s medical board has very vigorous examination procedures, and stands by its decisions.” Against the skeptics, no fewer than five doctors declared there was “ no medical explanation ” of the healing attributed to Mother Teresa.

Fr. Leo Maasburg, an Austrian priest who was Mother Teresa’s close personal friend and spiritual advisor and the author of a moving portrait of her, told me that the idea that Blessed Teresa loved poverty rather than poor people was “a diabolical twisting” of her actual beliefs, which were “to help the poor and suffering to the utmost.” Despite her travels (undertaken purely to spread her charitable activities), Blessed Teresa lived an extremely modest life in Calcutta, and Fr. Maasburg was emphatic that she never asked for special favors or medical care”a fact since confirmed by others close to her, including the physicians who treated her during her final illness.

Fr. Maasburg also stressed that Blessed Teresa was the first to acknowledge her imperfections, and would constantly teach those around her: “If someone criticizes you, first ask yourself, is it right? If he is right, apologize and change, and the issue is resolved. If he is not right, clarify and correct, but if that does not work, take up the unjust accusations with both hands and offer it to Jesus in union with his suffering, because he was slandered by all sides.”

The most powerful witness I spoke to was Susan Conroy, who worked with Mother Teresa in Calcutta”traveling there as a twenty-one-year-old volunteer in 1986. She knew Mother for the last decade of her life, and wrote Mother Teresa’s Lessons of Love and Secrets of Sanctity. She speaks about Blessed Teresa often. She read the report by the Canadian academics in its original French, and reacted with sadness, offering this first-hand testimonial in response:

When I read the criticisms of how the patients were cared for in the Home for the Dying, I kept thinking back to my personal experiences there . . . . I know how tenderly and carefully we tended to each of the destitute patients there”how we bathed them, and washed their beds, and fed them and gave them medicine. I know how the entire shelter was thoroughly and regularly cleaned from top to bottom, and each patient was bathed as often as necessary, even if it was multiple times a day

They were considered “untouchables” of society, and yet there we were touching and caring for them as if they were royalty. We truly felt honored to serve them as best we could. Mother Teresa had taught us to care for each one with all the humility, respect, tenderness and love with which we would touch and serve Jesus Christ Himself”reminding us that “whatsoever we do to the least of our brothers,” we do unto Him.

After hearing from these supporters, I requested interviews with the researchers, and finally obtained one with Dr. Chenard. Her answers to my series of questions were both astonishing and revealing: She confirmed for me that her academic team did not speak to a single patient, medical analyst, associate, or worker of Mother Teresa’s before writing their paper against her; nor did they examine how all her finances were spent; nor did they speak with anyone at the Vatican involved with her sainthood cause, or consult the Vatican’s medical board which certified the miracle attributed to Blessed Teresa.The researchers had not even traveled to Calcutta, whereas even Hitchens, misguided as he was, at least did that.

As it turned out, this “research paper” was nothing but a “review of literature,” a repacking of whatothers had already written, with the academics putting their own negative spin on it. In other words, an indictment based upon no original research, and the author most frequently cited? Christopher Hitchens. Yet these “findings” made international headlines, and were repeated by many without objection.

Sanctity cannot be fabricated, and true holiness often invites worldly ridicule, as Our Lord foretold. But Blessed Mother Teresa’s radiant witness will survive as long as truth and tenderness survive in the human heart”which, God willing, will be until the end of time

Kritisisme (Belum) Berakhir

Menangkap bulat-bulat gagasan Hitchens ataupun membela mati-matian kekudusan Mother Teresa adalah dua ekstrem yang sebaiknya tidak menjadi final standing position dari kita.
Akan selalu ada perang gagasan, perang media, dan perang viralitas berita tentang setiap sosok fenomenal, karena rating memang mendapatkan sumbangan terbesar dari propaganda, opinionisasi, analisis dan komentar terhadap suatu “public figure”, atau seorang “public property”.

Satu hal jelas, lepas dari pro-kontra benar tidaknya tuduhan malpraktek yang dilakukan oleh Mother Teresa, publik Kalkutta dengan bangga menyebut bahwa Agnes Bonxha atau Mother Teresa adalah bagian dari mereka.

Sebagai pengamat, pembaca, fans ataupun kritikus, ada baiknya kita mendekat ke sumber-sumber yang paling dekat dan paling mengenal sosok Agnes Bonxha atau Mother Teresa, si ibu tua renta, si gadis manis, dan si biarawati dengan raut wajah yang tegas sekaligus penuh welas ini.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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