Washington D.C., May 28, 2021 / 16:02 pm
A new podcast that likens St. Teresa of Calcutta to a cult leader is full of “untruths and false accusations,” the former legal counsel for St. Teresa told CNA on Friday.
The podcast, titled “The Turning: The Sisters Who Left,” discusses Mother Teresa and the religious order she founded, the Missionaries of Charity; the podcast asks the question, “What is the line between devotion and brainwashing?”
The podcast features claims of “abuse and betrayal” in the order by former sisters. A recent opinion piece for the New York Times highlighting the podcast was titled: “Was Mother Teresa a Cult Leader?”
According to the Times article, the podcast features a woman named Mary Johnson, who says she sought to “escape” the order but ultimately left “through official channels.”
In response, Jim Towey – the Catholic legal counsel to St. Teresa for the last twelve years of her life – blasted the podcast in a piece for National Review, calling it a “smear campaign.”
He told CNA on Friday that in his view, the podcast is part of “a continued effort by people who are trying to draw attention to themselves by degrading the memory of Mother Teresa, by attacking her sisters, and in so doing, kind of attacking the Catholic Church and its moral teachings and all we stand for.”
He added that “It’s easy to take pot-shots at the Missionaries of Charity, and it’s always by people who don’t do the work.”
The founder and CEO of the group Aging with Dignity, a nonprofit working for the elderly, disabled, and mentally ill, Towey says his nonprofit was inspired by St. Teresa’s work with the poor.