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There’s no evidence Mother Teresa sold babies.
Two workers at a shelter for unwed mothers run by the order of nuns Mother Teresa founded were accused of selling four children in 2018, 21 years after Mother Teresa died.
Mother Teresa died in 1997 and was canonized as a saint by the Catholic Church in 2018.
Mother Teresa was a diminutive Roman Catholic nun who devoted her life to helping the poor in India. She was canonized by the Church in 2016, nearly 20 years after her death at age 87 in 1997.
But to one social media user, she was no saint.
"Mother Theresa sold babies & was used in photo-ops throughout the 1980’s when she was pushed on us as a saint!" read text above an old photo of her posing with Anthony Fauci and others in a Feb. 15 Instagram post.
This post was flagged as part of Instagram’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
The Instagram post is wrong on a couple of things. The church’s efforts to canonize Mother Teresa for sainthood didn’t begin until about two years after her death, not in the 1980s.
There is no evidence we can find in a search of Google and a Nexis database that Mother Teresa was accused of or engaged in child trafficking. However, two workers at a shelter for unwed mothers that was run by the order of nuns Mother Teresa founded decades earlier were accused of selling babies in 2018, news reports show. That was 21 years after Mother Teresa died.
The shelter was run by Missionaries of Charity, which was founded by Mother Teresa in 1950. The Missionaries of Charity told the Catholic News Agency in 2018 that it had stopped doing child adoptions in India in 2015, and that they previously did not accept money for administering them.
Although Mother Teresa did have critics — some accused her order of proselytizing to patients and providing poor conditions and medical care in shelters run by her mission — we could find no evidence that she participated in selling babies.
We rate this claim False.
Instagram post, Feb. 15, 2023
NPR, "Late Mother Teresa's Order Investigated For Child Trafficking In India," July 17, 2018
The Associated Press, "2 at Mother Teresa’s charity arrested over alleged baby sale," July 5, 2018
Catholic News Agency, "Missionaries of Charity sister arrested in baby-selling investigation," July 5, 2018
Times of India, "Missionaries of Charity sister arrested in baby-selling investigation," July 16, 2018
NBC News, "Mother Teresa's Canonization: Controversy Mars Nun's Work," Sept. 2, 2016
The Washington Post, "Why Mother Teresa is still no saint to many of her critics," Sept. 1, 2016
CNN, "‘Troubled individual:’ Mother Teresa no saint to her critics," Sept. 4, 2016
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