ROME — The Faculty of the Sciences of Communication organized a conference on Mother Teresa entitled: Mother Teresa – saint or celebrity. Albanian born Birmingham University professor Dr Gezim Alpion author of a book under the same title presented the lecture at the Universita’ Pontificia Salesiana (UPS) Rome, 20 November. About 100 students and professors from Rome Universities attended the two hour lecture in English language.
Two Missionaries of Charity Sisters, a delegation of three Albanians including the Albanian Ambassador in Rome were present.
“I have been misjudged as an attacker of Mother Teresa,” said Gezim who claims to be a social scientist and spiritualist who does not subscribe to any particular religious label.
“There are two groups of people related to Mother Teresa: those who admire her uncritically, and those who criticize everything of Mother Teresa,” said Gezim posing himself as mediator of the two camps not prepared to meet each other.
“Mother Teresa is a complex person, more sophisticated than her attackers and hagiographers,” Gezim said insisting the need to have more in depth study, research and understanding of one of the most influential persons of the 20th century.
In an age when media needs celebrities and celebrities need media, Mother Teresa reminded media persons that “I am not a social worker. What I do, I do it for Jesus,” warning them of the celebrity danger “never make me the person I am not”.
Prof Gezim also provided an insight into two areas most Mother Teresa literatures ignore: first 18 years in Skopje, and the first 18 years in Kolkata with the Irish Loreto nuns.
Gezim explored the significance of Mother Teresa to the mass media, to celebrity culture, to the church and to various political and national groups. He also highlighted the cultural and critical analysis of Mother Teresa, and of the way she and others created, promoted and censored her public image, in the context of the sociology of fame, media, religion and nationality.
Prof. Gezim currently director of Research Postgraduate Studies, Department of Sociology (Birmingham University) received a PhD from the University of Durham, UK, in 1997. His works include Vouchers (2001), Foreigner Complex (2002), If Only the Dead Could Listen (2006), and Encounters with Civilizations (2008). The Italian version of his book Mother Teresa: saint or celebrity was published recently by Salerno publishers. END