Sex and the Holy City: You can watch the BBC Panorama program from a link on this page. I haven't been this horrified since I watched the governor of northern Nigeria in an interview happily say that he would be willing to participate in the stoning of Amina Lawal.

And today the pope is "beatifying" Mother Theresa. Many, if not most, people have an uncomplicated view of this woman. But there was another side. In Christopher Hitchens' book about her called "The Missionary Position", he describes visiting her at her Calcutta center years ago. Near the end of the visit, during which he'd been suitably impressed, he compliments her on her work providing care to the dying. Mother Theresa suddenly turns and surveys her clinic with a sweep of her arm and says (I can't recall the exact line), "yes, and this is how we fight against birth control in India."

Hitchens being Hitchens, this complete non sequiter sparked an interest which culminated in the book. We learn that Mother Theresa actually considered her main mission in life to proselytize against abortion and all forms of birth control. She even travelled to Ireland once to speak to rallies against removing a ban on abortion from the Irish constitution. She visited and honored Enver Hoxha, dictator of Albania (she was born there). She received multi-million dollar donations from people like Papa Doc Duvalier and Charles Keating who wanted to deflect criticism from themselves by pretending to care about Mother Theresa's work. When informed about Keating's crimes and the source of the money he donated, she refused to return any of it.

She never built a hospital and considering the millions and millions of dollars in donations she received, her hospice facilities were strangely primitive. What she did do was set up convents under her own order of nuns in many countries of the world. There's one right here in Prague. I do know they do good things for the homeless and others. I know a couple of people who volunteer there. But Mother Theresa herself considered its mission to be to stop the spread of the sin of birth control.

The Pope is said to have been a great "fan" of Mother Theresa's. If you watch the program above, it's tempting to believe that this was because of her stance on abortion, rather than her work with the sick and dying.

The Catholic Church now teaches people with Aids not to use condoms, telling them that Latex has "holes" in it through which the virus can pass. For the Church the real objection is that, as a form of birth control, using the rubber sleeve is a sin. The most telling thing about the holey-latex lie is that the Church has realized that the fear of committing the sin no longer seems to have any effect, even in the third world. So, as the interviewer points out to a Kenyan Archbishop, "with all due respect, you've resorted to peddling rumor and superstition."

Steve | 19:48 |