It’s a miracle, not a pension

The _Times of India_ had the excellent idea of “finding out what happened”: to the woman who was meant to have been miraculously cured by a miracle blessed by Mother Teresa. There are, or course, disputes about the cure. Medical science suggests that she was suffering from TB, rather than stomach cancer, and that she was cured by drugs rather than the unaided efforts of the Holy Spirit. In any case, Monica Besra was “briefly famous”:,9171,501021021-364433,00.html and then the world moved on.

Now she appears to have been left by her husband, a grumpy figure in the background of earlier stories, and is working as a day labourer to feed her five children. Neither I nor Christopher Hitchens, nor anyone from the Missionaries of Charity, have given her any money, or enough to lift her for a little while from poverty. I, at least, feel rather guilty about this, without having any clear idea what might be done about it.

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5 Responses to It’s a miracle, not a pension

  1. chris y says:

    I, at least, feel rather guilty about this

    Don’t feel guilty. Neither you, nor Hitchens, nor Warren Buffett have the funds to lift all the day labourers in the world out of poverty, and this woman’s claim on you is no greater than any other’s. On the other hand, she (briefly) believed she had received a miracle, which is probably quite cool, and not available to most of us.

  2. acb says:

    I don’t see that the impossibility of general benevolence removes from me the obligation to particular acts. I cannot, alas, seduce every clever woman in the world. Should this stop me from trying with those I can?

    Hmmm. Let me rephrase that.

    I know perfectly well that no act of charity of mine — possibly even of Bill Gates’s will lift everyone out of poverty. But it doesn’t follow that I should lift no one out of poverty, nor give any money to the beggars I meet just because I can’t give money to everyone. And “meet” in this sense seems to me the sort of thing that the good samaritan did on the road to wherever it was; not necessarily some kind of physical interaction.

  3. Mrs Tilton says:

    Your problem and Ms Besra’s, Andrew, would be neatly solved if she would only install a PayPal link on her website.

  4. chris y says:

    acb, I quite agree. I usually give a quid to beggars who aren’t obviously to far out of their heads to hold onto it, on the starfish principle. But neither Andrew, you nor I have been approached by Monica Besra, and feeling guilty about her specifically seems like walking the length of the beach and ignoring thousands of starfish, just to throw one back at the other end.

  5. chris y says:

    Sorry, Andrew, just realised acb is you. It was the “c” that threw me.

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