Personal Letters Show Now-Sainted Mother Teresa Was An Atheist

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In life, Mother Teresa was an icon for believers of God's work on Earth. Her ministry to the poor of Calcutta was a world-renowned symbol of religious compassion. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

In a rare interview in 1986, Mother Teresa told CBS News she had a calling, based on unquestioned faith.

"They are all children of God, loved and created by the same heart of God," she said.

But now, it has emerged that Mother Teresa was so doubtful of her own faith that she feared being a hypocrite, according to a book of her letters which was recently released. Her doubts about faith were documented as far back as the 1950s.

"Where I try to raise my thoughts to heaven, there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives and hurt my very soul. Love -- the word -- it brings nothing," wrote the woman known the world over as the "Messiah of Love."

In a new book, "Mother Teresa: Come be My Light", that compiles letters she wrote to friends, superiors and confessors, her doubts are obvious.

Shortly after beginning work in Calcutta's slums, the spirit left Mother Teresa.

"Where is my faith?" she wrote. "Even deep down… there is nothing but emptiness and darkness... If there be God — please forgive me."

Eight years later, she was still looking to reclaim her lost faith.

"Such deep longing for God… Repulsed, empty, no faith, no love, no zeal," she said.

As her fame increased, her faith refused to return. Her smile, she said, was a mask.

"What do I labor for?" she asked in one letter. "If there be no God, there can be no soul. If there be no soul then, Jesus, You also are not true."

"These are letters that were kept in the archbishop's house," the Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk told Phillips.

The letters were gathered by Rev. Kolodiejchuk, the priest who's making the case to the Vatican for Mother Teresa's proposed sainthood. He said her obvious spiritual torment actually helps her case.

"Now we have this new understanding, this new window into her interior life, and for me this seems to be the most heroic," said Rev. Kolodiejchuk.

According to her letters, Mother Teresa died with her doubts. She had even stopped praying, she once said.

The church decided to keep her letters, even though one of her dying wishes was that they be destroyed. Perhaps now we know why.


Posted by Thomas k Ho on 2007-08-25 11:58:07
I am deeply touched by Mother Teresa's letters. All the great saints had similar experiences. Some called it the dark night of the soul. We should also refer to Greene's "Brighton Rock" Therese of Lisieux had similar expereinces. The only genuine experience of God is the negative kind---His total absence here down below. Our father, who art in heaven.
Posted by Sheik on 2007-08-26 00:53:08
Saithan will make every human being to think the way she through about faith at some moment. But for a faithful, not to discuss or reveal about it to another person is called faithfulness and try to seek refuge in GOD.
Doubt is healthy
Posted by Vorpal on 2007-08-27 12:18:29
That she felt free to express her doubts demonstrates the depths of her faith. After all, love is an action, not a warm fuzzy feeling, and her actions demonstrate her love.
Posted by wizeGurl on 2007-08-27 12:43:47
Sure, many people experience a "moment of doubt." But we kind of expect our religious icons to get over it at some point. Mother Theresa seems to have been almost completely mired in doubt since the 1950's--I'd have to say that a half-century of doubt is more than a "moment" or a "night." And there doesn't seem to be a speck of evidence that she ever fully regained her most of the historical saints did.

As for her actions...yeah, witholding pain medication from the dying so they could suffer nobly and zip straight up to heaven when they died...if that's love, I'll pass.
Highly motivated
Posted by kunyed on 2007-08-28 07:24:38
Human nature moves from pain to pleasure, from discomfort to comfort. She was obviously made very unconfortable and deeply distressed by this process. God was drawing her to him by his abscence and she did not abandon her work but perservered. Her perserverence is what makes her holy.
Atheist sourgrapes
Posted by Teófilo on 2007-08-31 11:39:32
Atheists and skeptics are busy spinning Mother's Dark Night to their ideological advantage.

This is understandable. There are no atheists working in the streets of Calcutta or anywhere elese for that matter, to help the poorest of the poor and co-suffer with them. Sacrificial love is not part of their survival-of-the-fittest-and-brightest toolkit.

Mother Theresa symbolizes all that is wrong with the atheist worldview. Now atheist ideologues are beside themselves because they believe they have a weapon against her. They will be more than happy to cast the first stone. In the meantime, Mother Theresa's spiritual children, quietly and without pretense, continue the work she started, atheism and unbelief notwithstanding. Praised be the Lord for Mother Theresa and her children who teach us that love is a choice, not a mere feeling.

-Theo (
The Japs know their stuff!
Posted by Evil1 on 2007-09-12 22:16:36
What if she felt that way because she was looking for God in the wrong place? Because she might have had doubts he was there doesn't mean he wasn't and isn't. What if Christianity's way of communing with God was completely wrong in its ritual and spiritual practice? Would we even know? When doubt arises, do faithful Christians stop to consider it? Or has the clergy buried those skeletons so deep in the closet that they have been entirely forgotten? The system of worship in Christianity is a great and fantastic tool for bringing people together, and making them feel like a part of CHRISTIANITY, however, it isn't too absurd to say that the feeling of communion with god felt by fervent Christians could be self induced, a kind of Placebo, generated by the overwhelming joy of the temporary destruction of the fear of existence just ending at death, and there being nothing there.

When a person comes into the faith, they do so because they need to give greater purpose to their lives. Doing this could potentially make them feel as if it is God touching their souls. When the pink-shaded glasses come off, some people can't help but to feel like it was an over-hyped social club.

So let us sit back, just for a moment, and set aside our bibles long enough to ask ourselves whether God is really in the Church, or if it's just we who just really really really wish he was.
she is a real saint
Posted by T.devaprasad on 2007-09-13 05:06:57
mother teresas experiences show that she is in real love with God.That is why she fells so troubled when she is not feeling it.Thus attitude of ignonymy is the game played by any lover with his dear one.This shows the trust God has in her. Lord we thank you that you have loved mother teresa so much.Bless us through her intercession
T.devaprasad Journalist Trivandrum Kerala India
God or no god.
Posted by Wowzers on 2009-03-30 08:38:12
God or no God you have to admitt that she was a wonderful women, whether God is real or not is up to everyone individualy. But for her, for some time in her life she felt he was real and with her. During that time she did great things. I say we stay out of her personal feelings and leave the poor dead women in peace, remember the great things she did and leave her troubles as rest.
At the "Atheist sourgrapes" comment
Posted by Tim on 2009-03-30 15:48:37
That simply isn't true, the atheist/rationalist club at my school does routine coat runs, that is, they go to the city, and literally give coats to homeless people, no church middleman, no dropping off at a shelter, they are there on the streets, as it were. Not to mention that the largest charity in the world, the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation is run by atheists. I'm a Deist myself, but please, get your facts straight.
Posted by SHOKZANA on 2009-11-11 10:42:56
non-duality is the key
Posted by on 2010-09-03 19:31:41
it seems that almost everyone (probably teresa herself is also included) have missed the real issue and is/was trying to fit what happened into their worldview to justify whatever they believe. teresa's doubt is not the doubt of a christian saint. teresa's "emptiness and lack of seeing god" is not the kind you and i and the atheist feels. what she writes about is not her personal thoughts and feelings, it is truth that has to be expressed no matter which "side" you are on. familiarizing oneself with non-duality (understanding its fundamental teachings) makes it very clear what the teresa's letters are about. they are not about the integrity of teresa's faith but the most genuine pointers beyond faith, religion and even logic, that the mind cannot understand.
Give the credit where credit is due.
Posted by Nick on 2010-10-08 16:20:00
She made it her life-work to help those that were in need. She did this because of her caring and selfless nature; not because of her religious beliefs. She tried to be faithful; but I believe that she had the same doubts as the majority of the people who consider themselves religious. The doubts stem from the contradictions and hypocrisy of religious dogmas and values when applied to reality. She was intelligent and seen enough of the world to realize that divinity does not exist.
Posted by Call332 on 2012-05-15 18:19:52
Mother Theresa was a fraud pure and simple. She funneled money into the Vatican (as if they needed anymore) and the horrible conditions of her Hospitals have long come to light. Affection of any kind towards the children was forbidden as were pain killers for the seriously ill. This very sick individual believed that the only way to be close to God was through disease and suffering. The best? She pardoned a child molester and suggested that he be allowed to continue working in the church. Her response to his protestors? "Just forgive him" The only people in a position to forive this monster was his victims. How dare she! We live in times where finally the veil is being lifted from all these phonies of the world.
Wake up!!!
Posted by Antitheist on 2015-05-20 06:55:54
God? Which one? How can god believers think theirs is the one and only? Selfish and ignorant people! Luckily more and more people are starting to wake up around the world and are no longer believing in fairy tails. And yes, she was NOT a good person. Needles reused over and over. Kids tied up to beds and beaten. People dying under the worst conditions. Read up folks, other than that fantasy book.
Thats not true.
Posted by CatholicMan on 2016-05-27 23:50:02
The Bill and Melinda foundation is run by Melinda who is a very devoted catholic and Bill even says that they raise their children in a religious way.
As for Mother Teresa she had problems with not feeling the presence of God but if you read the letters you will know that many of them where directed to God and the she believe in him, she even stated that her faith was the only thing that keep her going.
One of us
Posted by Benito on 2016-09-03 17:05:22
Deal with it God Squad, Teresa was one of us. Deny it all you want, faith is a form of denial anyway huh?


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