From an interview with Christopher Hitchens

"CHERRY: There is a Roman Catholic doctrine about the redemption of the soul through suffering. This can be seen in Mother Teresa’s work: she thinks suffering is good, and she doesn’t use pain relievers in her clinics and so forth. Does she take the same attitude towards her own health? Does she live in accordance with what she preaches?

HITCHENS: I hesitated to cover this in my book, but I decided I had to publish that she has said that the suffering of the poor is something very beautiful and the world is being very much helped by the nobility of this example of misery and suffering.

CHERRY: A horrible thing to say.

HITCHENS: Yes, evil in fact. To say it was unchristian unfortunately would not be true, although many people don’t realize that is what Christians believe. It is a positively immoral remark in my opinion, and it should be more widely known than it is. She is old, she has had various episodes with her own health, and she checks into some of the costliest and finest clinics in the West herself. I hesitated to put that in the book because it seemed as though it would be ad hominem (or ad feminam) and I try never to do that. I think that the doctrine of hating the sin and loving the sinner is obviously a stupid one, because its a false antithesis, but a version of it is morally defensible.

(from “Christopher Hitchens: The Last Interview: and Other Conversations (The Last Interview Series)” by Christopher Hitchens, Stephen Fry)


Very interesting. Yes, this is a doctrine that is given lip service but largely ignored by Western Christians. And apparently ignored by Mother Theresa herself when it came to her personal health.


I don’t think any version of that ridiculous and horrible doctrine is defensible.


Christianity compels hypocrisy. It is impossible for any human being genuinely to love all other human beings, billions of people unknown to him. And Christian forgiveness is a doctrine of injustice.


Yes, exactly. Especially ones enemies.
Those two doctrines - loving ones enemies, and redemption thru suffering, go hand in hand to make Christians either easy targets for annihilation, or it forces them to become hypocrites for their own survival.


As a former Catholic I remember even as a child I couldn’t fathom this. I resent the guilt that was fostered on me by the nuns and priests And their lack of understanding of human nature and child psychology. And I am one of the lucky ones!
The loss of Christopher Hitchens was a great one and I am grateful for his teachings.


He had come so far over towards the right, he was within an inch of discovering that he’d become a conservative. An atheist conservative.


His videos and books and interviews continue to inspire.