Was Mother Teresa an Atheist?

Mother Teresa [wiki], who worked tirelessly to help the poor, sick and orphaned in Kolkata, India, was a symbol of religious compassion - she was even beatified after her death (a step toward sainthood).

Now, letters written by Mother Teresa revealed her deep and unending spiritual torment:

Shortly after beginning work in Calcutta's slums, the spirit left Mother Teresa.

"Where is my faith?" she wrote. "Even deep down… there is nothing but emptiness and darkness... If there be God — please forgive me."

Eight years later, she was still looking to reclaim her lost faith.

"Such deep longing for God… Repulsed, empty, no faith, no love, no zeal," she said.

As her fame increased, her faith refused to return. Her smile, she said, was a mask.

"What do I labor for?" she asked in one letter. "If there be no God, there can be no soul. If there be no soul then, Jesus, You also are not true."

The letters were gathered by Rev. Kolodiejchuk, who said that the insight will actually help Mother Teresa reach sainthood:

"Now we have this new understanding, this new window into her interior life, and for me this seems to be the most heroic," said Rev. Kolodiejchuk.

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To clarify, what doubt actually has to do with is trusting God, not teachings about God, not the existence of God, but God himself. To not live in fear or distrust, including of doubt.
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The real problem is the Catholic Church decideding Doubt is evil. Indeed, doubt is a major part of "carry your cross and follow." (Luke 14) Christianity is not easy - you face some combination (different for every sinner) of persecution from the outside and psychological terror from within, both from within your soul and from within the church and its many false prophets and hypocrites. I would point out that the meaning of "faith" has nothing to do with unquestioning belief, though some degree of that may be necessary to get anywhere in anything from Christianity to Mathematics. It is also, however, immensely rewarding. My mind has been spectacularly expanded since I followed, my relationships have deepened, my character has grown full and rich. Even my very scars, bleeds, and bruises I consider a mark of pride. Thanks be to God!
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Thank goodness the Ghoul of Calcutta can do no more harm.

Nicholas Dollak - You've only defined one kind of atheist. For many of us it's not a decision at all. For plenty, often angry ex-fundamentalists, it does take on a rather rebellious nature.

People should also be aware that it's possible to be an atheist and agnostic at the same time.

Troy Dean - You have a scary god there. Faith is more important than the countless condemned to suffer in hell? What's so wrong with the idea of a god who talks to each of us in an undeniable way? Anything else is rather elitist and horrifying.
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