THREE years before her death in 1997, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta spoke before the National Prayer Breakfast forum in Washington DC in front of a “politically correct” crowd that included then First Lady Hillary Clinton and pleaded: “Please don't kill the child. I want the child. Please give me the child. I am willing to accept any child who would be aborted and to give that child to a married couple who will love the child and be loved by the child.”

It was a daring speech considering how abortion is being embraced in the United States but Gonxha (Agnes) Bojaxiu, Mother Teresa of Calcutta to the world, was not to be deterred. In a world that had started to spin towards a period of hate and cheapening of the value of human life, she held on to Jesus's gospel of love:

“And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion? As always, we must persuade her with love and we remind ourselves that love means to be willing to give until it hurts. Jesus gave even His life to love us.”

An opinion piece posted on the Washington Times website on Aug. 31 and written by Jean Mancini provided us with this interesting insight:

“Against the backdrop of having lost 57 million Americans to abortion since it was legalized in the United States, living in a culture where HBO runs a series aimed at normalizing abortion, and facing a presidential candidate who once said abortion should be safe, legal and rare now advocating abortion on demand at any time in pregnancy paid for by taxpayer dollars, our 'shout your abortion' world needs the antidote of Mother Teresa’s gift of love and human dignity more than ever.”

In a way, the Philippines also needs this “antidote of Mother Teresa's gift of love and human dignity,” considering how drug users and suspected drug dealers are being gunned down mercilessly everywhere in the name of purging this country of the “evil” that is the illegal drugs trade. We need the discussion of her life and times as a reminder of the humane values that our leaders once embraced as Christians.

This Sunday in Rome, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta (by way of Skopje, Yugoslavia), also known as the “Saint of the Gutters” and founder of the Missionary of Charity, will be canonized as “St. Teresa of Calcutta.” May we use the occasion to reflect on the Christian values we have lost on the way to this mess we are in.

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Every time I hear people bash the entire Catholic Church for the objectionable viewpoints, acts and lifestyle of some of its leaders, I cringe not only because I am Catholic but more so for the ignorance that underline the criticism. Especially when these critics say that the Church has not done anything for the poor. They are ignorant of what church workers everywhere have done throughout the centuries. Consider Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.

While some sectors criticize her and her religious order for their “unorthodox” ways of helping the poor--Mother Teresa was accused of “treating the synptoms of poverty while ignoring the causes, of accepting donations from the corrupt, of refusing to provide an accounting of the money her congregation received, of failing to give adequate health care to those they served and of having been a religious fundamentalist—there is no denying the impact of their work.

Paul Vallely, writing for The Guardian, enumerated Blessed Teresa's legacy: “homes for the dying, homeless hostels, soup kitchens, leprosy clinics, HIV/Aids hospices, orphanages, schools, mobile dispensaries, mother and baby clinics, and centers for drug addicts and alcoholics in 133 countries.”

(khanwens@gmail.com/ twitter: @khanwens)