CV NEWS FEED // The man responsible for presenting Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta’s case for canonization is speaking out against how she’s depicted in a new film inspired by her life.
Fr. Brian Kolodiejchuk, Mother Teresa’s postulator and director of the Mother Teresa Institute, says the new film, “Mother Teresa and Me,” misrepresents the saint’s character, personality, and experience of spiritual darkness.
“Based on my own close relationship with Mother Teresa, my role as her postulator, and my familiarity with the experiences of those who testified during her canonization process,” Kolodiejchuk wrote, “this film does not accurately capture the woman who captured the world with her steadfast, joyful love of God and neighbor; one of the most loved and admired women of the 20th century.”
The film’s director, Kamal Musale, describes Mother Teresa on the film’s website as “a woman who lost her lover, her husband, her intimate soul mate, and never recovered from it,” and furthermore, as having “lost her faith,” during her period of darkness.
“During [an] approximately 12-year period, Teresa goes through a complete change, from the intensity of her epiphany to the disillusionment and the realization that her connection with God is lost,” Musale added.
Kolodiejchuk, who was responsible for publishing Mother Teresa’s personal correspondence, says this is a misinterpretation.
“Unfortunately,” he wrote, “the producers of the film appear unaware of Mother Teresa’s own interpretation of her darkness, or the significance it had for her life and vocation.”
Kolodiejchuk said the letters Mother Teresa wrote to her confessors were not despairing, but rather demonstrated “her confidence that Christ would not abandon her.”
In her letters, Kolodiejchuk pointed out, Mother Teresa was clear in her adherence to Christ, writing “I will hear his voice,” and “I know this is only feelings—for my will is steadfast bound to Jesus.”
In failing to capture the essence of Mother Teresa’s experience of spiritual darkness, the film also falls short of representing the saint’s personality, Kolodiejchuk said.
“I don’t believe those who knew Mother personally or spent the most time with her would recognize her on-screen depiction,” he wrote.
“‘A frustrated and loss-driven middle-aged woman’ is a far cry from our experiences of a loving, radiant, joy-filled saint. It is also far from the legacy that Mother Teresa herself aspired to, which was to be an “apostle of joy”, and to offer “a hearty ‘yes’ to God and a smile for all.”
Acknowledging the challenge of depicting the saint, Kolodiejchuk admitted “it would take an extraordinary actress to fittingly portray Mother Teresa” because there are still many people alive who remember her well.
“We still must wait for a non-documentary film that adequately portrays the ‘real and relatable’ Saint Mother Teresa,” Kolodiejchuk concluded, “since a misrepresentation is unjust to her and to those who wish to know her in all her beauty and fullness.”