Talk:Mother Teresa

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Former good article Mother Teresa was one of the Philosophy and religion good articles, but it has been removed from the list. There are suggestions below for improving the article to meet the good article criteria. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
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Dead Link[edit]

Reference 94 is a dead link. I believe this is the article it should point to:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1561247/Mother-Teresas-40-year-faith-crisis.html — Preceding unsigned comment added by 198.74.80.200 (talk) 15:43, 9 January 2014 (UTC)

Done. This appears to be a slightly different article, but it has the same gist, so it's a worthwhile replacement. Thank you very much for pointing that out and doing the search. Elizium23 (talk) 19:29, 9 January 2014 (UTC)

Criticisms[edit]

The section was a long dense block, so I broke it up under the relevant cross-headings. I also expanded the treatment of Keating (and propose attending to the Duvalier case in due course). The result, granted the existence of Criticism of Mother Teresa, is that the now section seems out of proportion within Mother Teresa - an effect (partly optical, I think) which I didn't foresee when introducing the cross-headings. The next step, then, would seem to be a radical pruning of the criticisms section in the main article and its reformation to give a general overview of criticisms rather than detailed discussion of a few choice topics. Does anyone object or have any comments? Ridiculus mus (talk) 06:32, 27 January 2014 (UTC)

I think if there is a link to the main Criticisms article then the criticisms in the actual biography should be reduced to just a summary rather than a detailed section. I would say definitely prune it. RoyalBlueStuey (talk) 09:13, 27 January 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for your input. I drafted a reduced version (cut down by 27%) which I have now posted in a sandbox. I would be very grateful if comments/ suggestions/ criticisms/ questions were posted by you and others on the sandbox discussion page. I am now working on Criticism of Mother Teresa and The Missionary Position, aiming at a coherent treatment across all three articles. Thanks Ridiculus mus (talk) 17:16, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
Now see an alternative, and somewhat shorter, version of the sub-section at my v2 sandbox. Ridiculus mus (talk) 10:42, 3 February 2014 (UTC)


Currently the styling here is distinct from Wikipedia norms. I would prefer either severe pruning, which will draw readers to the full article, or if it is to be a detailed subsection, then the individual categories of criticisms should use standard header styling. Syneil (talk) 11:38, 6 February 2014 (UTC)

When I introduced the sub-headings I deliberately avoided using standard sub-sections, because it would have created a huge disproportion in the contents box. It was, in any case, a temporary expedient and I have now pruned the section, removing the need for cross-headings. Once Criticism of Mother Teresa has been edited, further pruning may be possible and desirable in the instant article. Ridiculus mus (talk) 16:44, 7 February 2014 (UTC)


The entire piece is riddled with weasel words. When reference to a criticism is made, it is followed by a dismissal. e.g. "She was depicted as cunning, lacking in modesty and humility; they were either dupes or manipulators. Nor were these criticisms expressed in measured terms. Her critics frequently used vulgar, insulting and abusive language, and even grave allegations of personal impropriety were made against her, dependent on nothing but insinuations and suspicion, guilt by association, and adverse conclusions drawn from her silence. Throughout, Mother Teresa was silent in the face of abuse, and when pressed replied only that she forgave those who attacked her."
This is not how we do things on Wikipedia. Compare it to the criticism sections of other controversial figures. No one would come away from reading this piece well-informed about the body of criticism against Teresa.
I think it would be better that the criticism section reflect much of the evidence against her, with references, without suffixing every sentence with apologia or idolatry. Even the introduction has been skunked: it concludes "she has not lacked detractors, nor was she immune from personal abuse and insults whether in her life or after her death, all of which she bore calmly" Can you imagine the WP intro on Thaksin Shinawatra or George W Bush ending with ?
We need to move this piece so that it is closer to what an encyclopedia article ought to be. Ordinary Person (talk) 05:52, 11 February 2014 (UTC)

Something really needs to be done about this. It's honestly the most biased article I've ever read on Wikipedia and it reads like a catholic opinion piece. Definitely see WP:Weasel Words and compare to the content of this article – specifically the criticism section as Ordinary Person mentioned. I honestly believe keeping this article the way it is hurts WP's overall credibility. Teresa is a controversial figure for good reason and this article has clearly been written on one side of the controversy. Even a little further up I'm the talk page one of the editors dismisses criticisms with an ad hominem on one of her critics. Ridiculous. 107.215.192.17 (talk) 18:57, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

Completely agreed with the above. The entire article reads like an apologetic tract. At this point I'd rather link people to the rationalwiki article on her. Merari01 (talk) 19:13, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

To be honest seeing as there is a link to the separate article on the criticism I think a brief summary that some people have criticised her & her work would suffice in the biog. That way we avoid this issue entirely RoyalBlueStuey (talk) 12:12, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Agree with RoyalBlueStuey. Criticism sections within articles are not encouraged precisely because they involve an implicit bias to negativity. See WP:CRIT

Editors should avoid having a separate section in an article devoted to criticism, controversies, or the like because these sections call undue attention to negative viewpoints. Instead, articles should present positive and negative viewpoints from reliable sources together, fairly, proportionately, and without bias

As for the inapposite reference to George W. Bush, I find the approach there (where there is no distinct "Criticism" section) not so different, in principle, from that adopted here. In the section "Image" we read (in-line refs omitted):-

Bush has been parodied by the media, comedians, and other politicians. Detractors tended to cite linguistic errors made by Bush during his public speeches . . . Some pundits labeled Bush "the worst president ever". In contrast to his father, who was perceived as having troubles with an overarching unifying theme, Bush embraced larger visions and was seen as a man of larger ideas and associated huge risks. Tony Blair wrote in 2010 that the caricature of Bush as being dumb is "ludicrous" and that Bush is "very smart".

Ridiculus mus (talk) 16:55, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

I disagree that the topic should be avoided entirely because that again leads to apologetics and a rose-tinted article. "Instead, articles should present positive and negative viewpoints from reliable sources together, fairly, proportionately, and without bias" would indicate that the criticism has its place. Furthermore, the language as used in the article needs trimming. If one wishes to present a wholly positive image one should go to information as presented by the church, not a wikipedia article. The apologetic language needs removing and instead there should be a mere representation of facts in non-emotional tones. Phrases like "all of which he bore calmly" or attacks on the character of Hitchens really have no place.

Merari01 (talk) 00:23, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

No one is suggesting the topic be avoided altogether. There is a distinct article Criticism of Mother Teresa. Compare the treatment of criticism of Mohammad to which reference is made below. The reference to bearing attacks calmly has been deleted. Can we move the discussion along? Yesterday I proposed replacing the existing section along the lines suggested below (with a redirect to Criticism of Mother Teresa); the other possibility is deleting the dedicated sub-section and also deleting the article Criticism of Mother Teresa, reintegrating criticisms into the main article as per the guidelines in WP:CRIT. The implication that rebuttals of criticism should be omitted is not justified, however. Ridiculus mus (talk) 05:19, 22 February 2014 (UTC)

Thanks, Merari01. There's no point in shying away from the fact that some of these matters are controversial. I'll start by trimming the weasel words now and then we'll have a go at reforming the criticism section later.Ordinary Person (talk) 04:59, 3 March 2014 (UTC)

Okay, I think I got most of it. Ordinary Person (talk) 03:12, 4 April 2014 (UTC)

Criticism of Criticism of Mother Teresa[edit]

Don't do it this way. Just list important criticisms of Mother Teresa as they are found in good WP:RSes. That is all. You are doing this wrong. This should be a collection of criticisms of Mother Teresa, that is all. Chrisrus (talk) 18:05, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

As per criticism of Mohammad, perhaps. There is a main article Criticism of Muhammad, and a section in the article Mohammad which reads, in toto:

Criticism of Muhammad has existed since the 7th century. He has been attacked by his non-Muslim Arab contemporaries for preaching monotheism, as well as for his multiple marriages, possession of slaves and military expeditions across the Middle East

Suggestion:- Criticism of Mother Teresa first began to circulate in certain quarters after the award of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.[in-line refs] She was attacked for her views on abortion and artificial contraception as well as by those who disputed, on diverse grounds, the reputation for sanctity widely accorded her during her life.[in-line refs] Ridiculus mus (talk) 17:25, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Do this. The current article is as biased as fuck and has original research in the citations.

Semi-protected edit request on 13 March 2014[edit]

108.14.34.188 (talk) 20:46, 13 March 2014 (UTC) she had cancer when she was five and she was a buttox doctor for 3 years

Not done: please provide reliable sources that support the change you want to be made. Cannolis (talk) 21:25, 13 March 2014 (UTC)