Indiana Republican Told To Cease And Desist Using Mother Teresa’s Image

An Indiana Republican candidate for Congress has used his late-90s meeting with Mother Teresa in promotional materials for his endeavors for years, but when he associated her name and image with his political campaign, it went too far. An attorney representing Missionaries of Charity, an organization founded by Mother Teresa and claiming the rights to her name and image, sent Dr. Chuck Dietzen a cease-and-desist letter, saying that the famous figure had never wished to be associated with political campaigns.

Dr. Chuck Dietzen announced his candidacy for U.S. Congress in early April, and shortly after released the following ad campaign.

The ad opens with an image of Dietzen appearing to greet Mother Teresa, described in the video as the Republican “working with Mother Teresa to save kids.”

It’s hardly the first time Dr. Dietzen has brought up his meeting with Mother Teresa. It’s been described as an impetus to the foundation of his own charitable organization, and spoke on a morning news show in 2016, to describe how the meeting affected his life’s work.

When he transferred the image to a political ad, however, the focus wasn’t acceptable to the organization that holds exclusive rights to any commercial use of Mother Teresa’s name and image. According to Newsweek, the letter from attorney Jim Towey referenced Mother Teresa’s own refusal to be connected to political campaigns when she was alive, and the Missionaries of Charity’s ownership of her image.

During her lifetime, Mother Teresa strictly prohibited any political use of her name, image or likeness, or any other representations that sought to associate her with any political cause or campaign. Your YouTube campaign ad, which begins with footage of Mother Teresa is in direct violation of her wishes, as well as the wishes of the Missionaries of Charity who exclusively control the commercial use of her name, image and likeness.

Indy Politics spoke with Dr. Dietzen, noting that the image he used was taken with his own camera. In the interview, Dietzen argues that there’s no evidence the attorney represents Missionaries of Charity and that he’s had a member of his campaign reach out. When asked whether he thinks Mother Teresa would approve of his use of her in the political campaign, he pivots to describe his medical work and says that feedback has been positive.

Dietzen’s primary defense throughout the interview is that meeting Mother Teresa was an experience that had a significant influence on his life and work.

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