Church leaders in India are protesting after a Hindu Swami made a number of derogatory comments about St Teresa of Calcutta, during a broadcast on national television. He said: "Mother Teresa organized the illegal trafficking of 50,000 women, making them work as nuns after converting them to Christianity." Swami also said that she had undeservedly received the highest national honour, the "Bharata Ratna" prize in 1980 by the Government of India.
Archbishop Thumma Bala, who leads the diocese of Hyderabad and is President of the Council of Bishops of Telugu, said it was necessary to condemn and take legal measures regarding the false accusations and derogatory words.
Archbishop Bala said: "Is this not an insult to the nation and to the President of India who recognised the services of the Mother to the poor, the needy, the terminally-ill, the elderly, the abandoned and the suffering?"
"The work of Saint Mother Teresa is recognized all over the world and in 1979 was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Currently there are 5,161 Sisters of Mother Teresa in 758 Homes working in 139 countries. Besides, the comments of Paripoornananda Swamiji were not requested because the subject of the discussion was something different. It was not necessary for Swamiji to speak of the Pope and Mother Teresa."
The Archbishop notes that "Paripoornananda Swamiji's comments and accusations on Mother Teresa not only deeply hurt the hearts and feelings of the Catholic Church and the Christian community, but also of people belonging to all regions and religions who respect her as saint and mother of the poor and the suffering."
Following the footsteps of Jesus Christ, "we can forgive Paripoornananda Swamiji", the Archbishop said, recalling religious leaders of all faiths that "the primary duty of every religious leader is to foster harmony and peace in the community of our pluralist nation and safeguard the secularity and religious freedom guaranteed by our Constitution". The Bishops ask the government to ensure that such incidents are not repeated in the future.