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Hillary Clinton and Mother Teresa

An inconvenient truth about the adoption home founded by the former first lady and the nun from Calcutta.

12:00 AM, Feb 24, 2010 • By PAUL KENGOR
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A few years ago, I wrote a book on the faith of Hillary Clinton. Released in 2007, the book flopped, dismissed by conservatives who didn’t believe Hillary believed in God and liberals who didn’t care that Hillary believed in God.

I felt compelled to insert a word of caution in the book’s preface: I noted that the Clintons are like a hurricane to those who come near them. I hoped this wasn’t likewise true for their biographers, leaving us, too, in their wreckage of misleading information.

Lo and behold, a case in point is provided by reporter Emily Belz in World magazine, in a story getting coverage from only a handful of sources. Belz caught Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s keynote at the National Prayer Breakfast, where Clinton extolled the “common ground” she once found with Mother Teresa. The two had come together to open an adoption center, the Mother Teresa Home for Infant Children, near the northwest section of Washington, D.C. In a 30-minute address, Clinton devoted five minutes to the home.

I certainly wasn’t surprised by the reference. The home is a warm example of Hillary Clinton and Mother Teresa—rabid abortion advocate and abortion opponent—joining in a wonderful cause. Mrs. Clinton touts it whenever she can.

Belz, however, had a thought: Why not call the home to see how things are going? She did just that, only to find it closed—for almost 10 years now.

Hmmm, Clinton and her spokespersons never mentioned that.

Let me back up a bit, to give a fuller glimpse of the saga:

Hillary Clinton’s encounter with Mother Teresa began, it just so happens, at the National Prayer Breakfast, way back in 1994. That year, the keynoter was a special guest: Mother Teresa. Nearly 3,000 packed a huge room. Near the dais were the president and first lady—the Clintons.

Unlike in typical years, where the keynoter sits among the assembled waiting for others to finish speaking, Mother Teresa appeared from behind a curtain only when called to the platform, and then slowly hunched toward the microphone. She began talking about Jesus and John the Baptist in their wombs, about their mothers, and how the “unborn child” in the womb of Elizabeth—John—leapt with joy, heralding the arrival of Christ as Mary neared Elizabeth, a moment known as “The Visitation.”

Mother Teresa next spoke of love, of selfishness, of a lack of love for the unborn—and a lack of want of the unborn because of selfishness. Then, the gentle sister made this elite group uncomfortable: “But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because Jesus said, ‘If you receive a little child, you receive me.’ So every abortion is the denial of receiving Jesus.”

After an awkward silence, the entire ballroom erupted in a standing ovation that seemed to last minutes. It felt even longer to the embarrassed Clintons (and Al and Tipper Gore), who remained seated and did not clap.

Undeterred by the Clintons’ coldness, the tiny, aged lady was only warming up. Abortion was, said Mother, “really a war against the child, and I hate the killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that the mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? ... This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.”

Hillary Clinton was shaken. But it wasn’t over.

After the talk, the weak nun persisted, taking the matter directly to the first lady. As Clinton recalled, “[S]he wanted to talk to me. Mother Teresa was unerringly direct. She disagreed with my views on a woman’s right to choose and told me so.”

Mother Teresa said something that resounded with Hillary. She offered an olive branch: “Please don’t kill the child. I want the child. Give me the child. I’m willing to accept any child who would be aborted and to give that child to a married couple who will love the child and be loved by the child.” She said, “I will tell you something beautiful. We are fighting abortion by adoption.”

That was something Hillary could applaud. She made clear that while she supported legalized abortion, she preferred more adoptions as an alternative. The nun told the first lady she had placed over 3,000 orphaned babies into adoptive homes in India, and informed the first lady of her goal of establishing a home in Washington, D.C. She invited Hillary to India for a tour, and Mrs. Clinton obliged.

To Hillary’s great credit, when she returned to Washington, she went to bat for Mother, rounding up pro bono lawyers, fighting the DC bureaucracy, telephoning community leaders and pastors, calling them to the White House to see how they could help.

Mother Teresa was equally relentless. When she feared the project was lagging, she sent letters, emissaries, and called the first lady. “She called me from Vietnam,” remembered Hillary, “she called me from India, always with the same message: ‘When do I get my center for babies?’”

On June 19, 1995, she got her center. That moment is captured by a photo of Hillary and Mother Teresa smiling and clasping hands in the nursery. Mother Teresa died two years later.

My compliments to Mrs. Clinton: Unlike so many liberals who insist they want abortion to be “safe and legal” but “rare,” here was one who finally lifted a finger to promote the birth and adoption of unborn babies rather than feed them into the jaws of Planned Parenthood clinics. Hillary Clinton, lifelong Methodist, did a good work.

It turns out, however, that the work didn’t bear the fruit we hoped. It reportedly lasted a handful of years, closing by 2002. World’s Emily Belz called the Washington, D.C. branch of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity. The nun who answered didn’t go into details on the home’s closure, noting that the nuns are not permitted to talk to the press, but did confirm that the order sold the Chevy Chase house in 2002. (One could only wish that the rich liberals in this wealthy neighborhood might have tossed some scraps to the home as they scooted by in their Beamers.)

So, that’s it. The adoption home that Clinton and her advocates have touted as a display of her Christian compassion has been out of operation for a long time.

This prompts some inconvenient questions:

Has Mrs. Clinton known that the home has been shut down, all the while boasting about it in books, statements, interviews, and no less than the keynote at the 2010 National Prayer Breakfast?

FoxNews sought an explanation from Clinton’s spokesman, Philippe Reines, who said: "[Hillary Clinton] remains very proud of her work with Mother Teresa in opening this home in 1995. Their partnership is a success story to be emulated."

Yes, but what kind of success?

This begs another inconvenient question—actually, more of a request:

Where’s Mrs. Clinton’s commitment? Why not strive to keep the home open? Where are her wealthy liberal friends, overflowing with compassion for the needy?

I have a sincere suggestion for Mrs. Clinton: What would Mother Teresa do? This frail little woman got on her mangled hands and knees and fed and held the dying of Calcutta. She declared it “a poverty” when a child died from abortion. Why not rekindle the tenacity Mother had shown in wanting that home, and which Hillary seemed to share?

With the breathtaking number of abortions performed in the nation’s capital, and with Obama-Pelosi-Reid having approved taxpayer funding of abortions in the District, there’s an urgent need.

I opened my 2007 book with a quote from Mother Teresa, directed at Hillary: “My prayer for you is that you come to understand and have the courage to answer.”

I was thinking of Hillary’s need to understand the tragedy of abortion. Now I’m also thinking of the need to answer the call to continue one’s service. 

Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College. His books include God and Ronald Reagan, God and George W. Bush, and God and Hillary Clinton.

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