We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Mother Tereesa (Ethical Issues)

The whole doc is available only for registered users

A limited time offer! Get a custom sample essay written according to your requirements urgent 3h delivery guaranteed

Order Now

Mother Teresa is known across the globe as the brave and selfless servant of the poor and sick of Calcutta’s slums. She was also much more: a bold social advocagte, and even a thoughtful theologian. In 1994, just three years before she would pass away, Mother Teresa spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. The focus of her presentation was a condemnation of abortion, given in the presence of the pro-choice administration of President Bill Clinton (First Lady Hilary Clinton was also in attendance) and Vice President Al Gore. Mother Teresa’s treatment of abortion is in the context of a series of fascinating ethical and ecclesiological reflections that reveal the intriguing insight of her thoughts on love, family, the Church, and of ultimate good. The ethical framework Mother Teresa presents in her address centers around the life and ministry of Christ. She devotes a significant portion of the early part of her address to reiterate the life of Christ, primarily his sacrifice. Since Christ’s commandment is to “Love as I have loved you,” she explains that the life of Christ must serve as an ethical model and source for human beings.

She summarizes that Christ’s entire life was one of giving of a “greater love” to all. Jesus’ death on the cross, according to Mother Teresa, was the pinnacle of this love and, consequentially, the summit of ethical action. She notes, most importantly, we must recognize that Christ’s occasion of sacrifice was not an easy task: “It hurt Jesus to love us. . .Jesus makes Himself the hungry one, the naked one, the homeless one, the unwanted one. . .” Jesus gave until it hurt, she summarizes. And as the ethical standard for righteous living, Mother Teresa teaches that we too must “give until it hurts.” Since Christ exemplified the greatest of love, which was defined by giving until all had been relinquished – his prestige, his reputation, his comfort, his life – Mother Teresa concludes that we must “realize that love, to be true, has to hurt.” This is Mother Teresa’s basic axiom of her ethical reflections; true love is the sort that gives until all that can be given has been given. There is a “duty of care,” to borrow legal language, that we owe to others to lay down everything for them.

There is no legitimate limitation (not even our survival) that we can place upon our giving. She elaborates: “I must be willing to give whatever it takes not to harm other people and, in fact, to do good to them. This requires that I be willing to give until it hurts. Otherwise, there is no true love in me and I bring injustice, not peace, to those around me.” Mother Teresa first applies this ethical framework to family relationships, telling anecdotes bringing to light the innate desire to be cared for by our families when we are suffering. She claims that “love begins at home.” It is the place where giving until it hurts first takes place. It is in this context of the need for family, and defining it as the place where Christ’s paradigmatic love should begin, that Mother Teresa introduces abortion and how it fits in her ethical framework. Mother Teresa describes abortion as an action that directly contradicts the ethical standard she has constructed, and in the place where her principle applies first: the family. “By abortion,” she declares, “the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems.

And, by abortion, the father is told that he does not have to take any responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the world.” These parents, according to Mother Teresa, have put a limitation on their own giving whether it be a limitation of convenience, fear of stigmatization, or financial woe. In fact, hurt is inflicted on another to prevent hurt on your part, the opposite of her ethic of giving until it hurts. Since Christ gave until he was killed, anything less no matter how difficult the circumstances, is an ethical shortcoming. While Mother Teresa does not explicitly make this claim herself in this address, this point could likely necessitate the condemnation of abortion when the life of the mother is threatened, which is the typical Catholic interpretation. Because abortion strikes right to the center of the family, where love should begin, Mother Teresa considers abortion the greatest force in discouraging the ethic she advocates: she calls abortion “the greatest destroyer of peace.”

This ethic of ‘giving’, as applied to abortion, is not simply an individual ethic, but one that is deeply communal and involves others. Mother Teresa claims that “[T]he mother who is thinking of abortion, should be helped to love, that is, to give until it hurts her plans, or her free time, to respect the life of her child. The father of that child, whoever he is, must also give until it hurts.” The parents should not be alone in giving until it hurts, but there is a mutual and communal responsibility that must be recognized. While Christians should give until it hurts, with Christ as the example, this does not mean they are not supposed to help alleviate the hurt in others’ giving. Presumably, to not do so would be a failure on others’ part to ‘give until it hurts’. If this is what we are to take Mother Teresa to say, a complex, interdependent relationship has been created. When others are suffering in their giving, others around them must also give to alleviate their hurt, until it hurts.

This is a profound statement about the ethical function of the Church. Furthermore, Mother Teresa turns to adoption to emphasize the communal responsibility to give until it hurts. Even if parents may forget a child, the Church must reflect God’s assurance to such children that “I will not forget you. I have carved you in the palm of my hand.” She speaks of her work with mothers and orphans in the slums of Calcutta: “We are fighting abortion by adoption -by care of the mother and adoption for her baby.” She and her nuns, she explained, would spread the word throughout the town that they would take any child that was considered for abortion. “From our children’s home in Calcutta alone,” she claimed, “we have saved over 3000 children from abortion.

These children have brought such love and joy to the adopting parents and have grown up so full of love and joy.” Mother Teresa continues her reflections and delves into issues of the use of contraception, and ultimately ends her address with a return to her axiomatic point that God (and Christ) must serve as the foundation for ethical decisions and reasoning. He must be the example by which humans live, think, act, and judge their actions: “If we remember that God loves us, and that we can love others as He loves us, then America can become a sign of peace for the world. From here, a sign of care for the weakest of the weak -the unborn child- must go out to the world. If you become a burning light of justice and peace in the world, then really you will be truest to what the founders of this country stood for. God bless you!”

Works Cited

Mother Teresa, “Whatever You Did Unto One of the Least, You Did Unto Me.” The National Prayer Breakfast, Washington, D.C., February, 1994. http://www.luisprada.com/Protected/mother_teresa_on_abortion.htm V

http://voices.yahoo.com/giving-until-hurts-abortion-mother-teresas-6489700.html Historical Importance of Mother Teresa: Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity, a Catholic order of nuns dedicated to helping the poor. Begun in Calcutta, India, the Missionaries of Charity grew to help the
poor, the dying, orphans, lepers, and AIDS sufferers in over a hundred countries. Mother Teresa’s selfless effort to help those in need has caused many to regard her as a model humanitarian. Dates: August 26, 1910 — September 5, 1997

Mother Teresa Also Known As: Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu (birth name), “the Saint of the Gutters” Overview of Mother Teresa:  Mother Teresa’s task was overwhelming. She started out as just one woman, with no money and no supplies, trying to help the millions of poor, starving, and dying that lived on the streets of India. Despite others’ misgivings, Mother Teresa was confident that God would provide.

Birth and Childhood

Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, now known as Mother Teresa, was the third and final child born to her Albanian Catholic parents, Nikola and Dranafile Bojaxhiu, in the city of Skopje (a predominantly Muslim city in the Balkans). Nikola was a self-made, successful businessman and Dranafile stayed home to take care of the children. When Mother Teresa was about eight years old, her father died unexpectedly. The Bojaxhiu family was devastated. After a period of intense grief, Dranafile, suddenly a single mother of three children, sold textiles and hand-made embroidery to bring in some income.

The Call

Both before Nikola’s death and especially after it, the Bojaxhiu family held tightly to their religious beliefs. The family prayed daily and went on pilgrimages annually. When Mother Teresa was 12 years old, she began to feel called to serve God as a nun. Deciding to become a nun was a very difficult decision. Becoming a nun not only meant giving up the chance to marry and have children, it also meant giving up all her worldly possessions and her family, perhaps forever.

For five years, Mother Teresa thought hard about whether or not to become a nun. During this time, she sang in the church choir, helped her mother organize church events, and went on walks with her mother to hand out food and supplies to the poor. When Mother Teresa was 17, she made the difficult decision to become a nun. Having read many articles about the work Catholic missionaries were doing in India, Mother Teresa was determined to go there. Thus, Mother Teresa applied to the Loreto order of nuns, based in Ireland but with missions in India. In September 1928, 18-year-old Mother Teresa said goodbye to her family to travel to Ireland and then on to India. She never saw her mother or sister again.

Becoming a Nun

It took more than two years to become a Loreto nun. After spending six weeks in Ireland learning the history of the Loreto order and to study English, Mother Teresa then traveled to India, where she arrived on January 6, 1929. After two years as a novice, Mother Teresa took her first vows as a Loreto nun on May 24, 1931. As a new Loreto nun, Mother Teresa (known then only as Sister Teresa, a name she chose after St. Teresa of Lisieux) settled in to the Loreto Entally convent in Kolkata (previously called Calcutta) and began teaching history and geography at the convent schools.

Usually, Loreto nuns were not allowed to leave the convent; however, in 1935, 25-year-old Mother Teresa was given a special exemption to teach at a school outside of the convent, St. Teresa’s. After two years at St. Teresa’s, Mother Teresa took her final vows on May 24, 1937 and officially became “Mother Teresa.” Almost immediately after taking her final vows, Mother Teresa became the principal of St. Mary’s, one of the convent schools and was once again restricted to live within the convent’s walls.

“A Call Within a Call”

For nine years, Mother Teresa continued as the principal of St. Mary’s. Then on September 10, 1946, a day now annually celebrated as “Inspiration Day,” Mother Teresa received what she described as a “call within a call.” She had been traveling on a train to Darjeeling when she received an “inspiration,” a message that told her to leave the convent and help the poor by living among them. For two years Mother Teresa patiently petitioned her superiors for permission to leave the convent in order to follow her call. It was a long and frustrating process. To her superiors, it seemed dangerous and futile to send a single woman out into the slums of Kolkata.

However, in the end, Mother Teresa was granted permission to leave the convent for one year to help the poorest of the poor. In preparation for leaving the convent, Mother Teresa purchased three cheap, white, cotton saris, each one lined with three blue stripes along its edge. (This later became the uniform for the nuns at Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity.) After 20 years with the Loreto order, Mother Teresa left the convent on August 16, 1948. Rather than going directly to the slums, Mother Teresa first spent several weeks in Patna with the Medical Mission Sisters to obtain some basic medical knowledge. Having learned the basics, 38-year-old Mother Teresa felt ready to venture out into the slums in December of 1948.

Founding the Missionaries of Charity

Mother Teresa started with what she knew. After walking around the slums for a while, she found some small children and began to teach them. She had no classroom, no desks, no chalkboard, and no paper, so she picked up a stick and began drawing letters in the dirt. Class had begun. Soon after, Mother Teresa found a small hut that she rented and turned it into a classroom. Mother Teresa also visited the children’s families and others in the area, offering a smile and limited medical help. As people began to hear about her work, they gave donations. In March 1949, Mother Teresa was joined by her first helper, a former pupil from Loreto. Soon she had ten former pupils helping her. At the end of Mother Teresa’s provisionary year, she petitioned to form her own order of nuns, the Missionaries of Charity. Her request was granted by Pope Pius XII; the Missionaries of Charity was established on October 7, 1950.

Helping the Sick, the Dying, the Orphaned, and the Lepers

There were literally millions of people in need in India. Droughts, the caste system, India’s independence, and partition all contributed to the masses of people that lived on the streets. India’s government was trying, but they could not handle the overwhelming multitudes that needed help. While the hospitals were overflowing with patients that had a chance to survive, Mother Teresa opened a home for the dying, called Nirmal Hriday (“Place of the Immaculate Heart”), on August 22, 1952. Each day, nuns would walk through the streets and bring people who were dying to Nirmal Hriday, located in a building donated by the city of Kolkata. The nuns would bathe and feed these people and then place them in a cot. These people were given the opportunity to die with dignity, with the rituals of their faith. In 1955, the Missionaries of Charity opened their first children’s home (Shishu Bhavan), which cared for orphans. These children were housed and fed and given medical aid.

When possible, the children were adopted out. Those not adopted were given an education, learned a trade skill, and found marriages. In India’s slums, huge numbers of people were infected with leprosy, a disease that can lead to major disfiguration. At the time, lepers (people infected with leprosy) were ostracized, often abandoned by their families. Because of the widespread fear of lepers, Mother Teresa struggled to find a way to help these neglected people. Mother Teresa eventually created a Leprosy Fund and a Leprosy Day to help educate the public about the disease and established a number of mobile leper clinics (the first opened in September 1957) to provide lepers with medicine and bandages near their homes. By the mid-1960s, Mother Teresa had established a leper colony called Shanti Nagar (“The Place of Peace”) where lepers could live and work.

International Recognition

Just before the Missionaries of Charity celebrated its 10th anniversary, they were given permission to establish houses outside of Calcutta, but still within India. Almost immediately, houses were established in Delhi, Ranchi, and Jhansi; more soon followed. For their 15th anniversary, the Missionaries of Charity was given permission to establish houses outside of India. The first house was established in Venezuela in 1965. Soon there were Missionaries of Charity houses all around the world. As Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity expanded at an amazing rate, so did international recognition for her work. Although Mother Teresa was awarded numerous honors, including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, she never took personal credit for her accomplishments. She said it was God’s work and that she was just the tool used to facilitate it.


With international recognition also came critique. Some people complained that the houses for the sick and dying were not sanitary, that those treating the sick were not properly trained in medicine, that Mother Teresa was more interested in helping the dying go to God than in potentially helping cure them. Others claimed that she helped people just so she could convert them to Christianity. Mother Teresa also caused much controversy when she openly spoke against abortion and birth control. Others critiqued her because they believed that with her new celebrity status, she could have worked to end the poverty rather than soften its symptoms.

Old and Frail

Despite the controversy, Mother Teresa continued to be an advocate for those in need. In the 1980s, Mother Teresa, already in her 70s, opened Gift of Love homes in New York, San Francisco, Denver, and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for AIDS sufferers. Throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s, Mother Teresa’s health deteriorated, but she still traveled the world, spreading her message. When Mother Teresa, age 87, died of heart failure on September 5, 1997, the world mourned her passing. Hundreds of thousands of people lined the streets to see her body, while millions more watched her state funeral on television. After the funeral, Mother Teresa’s body was laid to rest at the Mother House of the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata.

When Mother Teresa passed away, she left behind over 4,000 Missionary of Charity Sisters, in 610 centers in 123 countries. After Mother Teresa’s death, the Vatican began the lengthy process of canonization. On October 19, 2003, the third of the four steps to sainthood was completed when the Pope approved Mother Teresa’s beatification, awarding Mother Teresa the title “Blessed.” http://history1900s.about.com/od/people/a/motherteresa_2.htm

What business leaders can learn from Mother Teresa

‘Mother Teresa, CEO: Unexpected Principles for Practical Leadership’ is a paean to the leadership talents of the Roman Catholic nun who led Missionaries of Charity in India. September 18, 2011|Philip Delves Broughton

“The rich world has a poor conscience,” wrote Christopher Hitchens in one of his assaults on the reputation of Mother Teresa, “and many people liked to alleviate their own unease by sending money to a woman who seemed like an activist for ‘the poorest of the poor.'” He has called Mother Teresa a friend of poverty, rather than the poor, and a Roman Catholic fundamentalist. His view is rhetorically harsh, but worth reflecting on as one reads “Mother Teresa, CEO: Unexpected Principles for Practical Leadership,” a paean to the leadership talents of history’s most famous Albanian.

My father spent many years at an Anglican mission in Kolkata, India, doing work similar to that of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, and always said admiringly that she was a hard nut, iron-willed and politically adept in a way that one rarely finds in the world of religious charities. While other efforts to help the poor floundered for lack of funds, Mother Teresa courted publicity for the financial resources it brought her, but almost to the point of immodesty. She risked her credibility by taking money from former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier and let herself be trivialized by the many who sought to bask in her reputation as a modern saint. So what lessons does she provide for the business leader? Authors Ruma Bose, co-chief executive of Sprayology, a “wellness company,” and Lou Faust, a strategic advisor, try to divine some answers from her example in “Mother Teresa, CEO.” It is published by BK Business.

Bose spent time as a volunteer at the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata, the city formerly known as Calcutta, some 20 years ago. The experience, she writes, shaped her as a businesswoman, guiding her through the vicissitudes of running a janitorial services business and now at Sprayology. She and Faust lay out eight “Teresa principles”: “dream it simple, say it strong”; “to get to the angels, deal with the devil; wait, then pick your moment”; “embrace the power of doubt”; “discover the joy of discipline”; “communicate in a language people understand”; “pay attention to the janitor”; “use the power of silence.” The first step to leading like Mother Teresa is to decide “What are you Mother Teresa of?” What is the vision you are capable of bringing to reality? “Dealing with devils to get to the angels” is the authors’ way of excusing her taking Duvalier’s money. The cause was right, even if the source of the money was tainted.

They suggest Mother Teresa had an ethical framework that allowed her to make such decisions, and that we should do the same. Likewise, we should develop a framework for dealing with doubt, as successful leaders “find courage in the face of fear so that they can lead their organizations forward.” The authors dare not say it, but obviously Mother Teresa’s framework was her Christian faith, beliefs that would never make it into an executive management diagram. Mother Teresa also possessed what Peter Drucker called the “bias toward action.” Bose and Faust say she believed that “if something needs washing, wash it. If something needs fixing, fix it.” There are moments in the book when you realize how vast the gulf is between business writing and normality. Bose compares Mother Teresa’s devotion to discipline to her own commitment to jogging.

And Faust recommends keeping a book of office malapropisms to generate the kind of joy in work shown by Mother Teresa’s nuns. Other tips are worth being reminded of, such as the importance of good manners and taking time to think rather than endlessly acting. The book’s greatest merit may be its brevity. Unlike many business books, it does not gas on for 200 pages more than it should. But to get a real sense of the joys and travails of Mother Teresa as CEO, I recommend her private writings, which show how lonely it was at the top. Philip Delves Broughton is a columnist for the Financial Times of London, in which this review first appeared, and is the author of “Ahead of the Curve: Two Years at Harvard Business School.”


Related Topics

We can write a custom essay

According to Your Specific Requirements

Order an essay
Materials Daily
100,000+ Subjects
2000+ Topics
Free Plagiarism
All Materials
are Cataloged Well

Sorry, but copying text is forbidden on this website. If you need this or any other sample, we can send it to you via email.

By clicking "SEND", you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. We'll occasionally send you account related and promo emails.
Sorry, but only registered users have full access

How about getting this access

Your Answer Is Very Helpful For Us
Thank You A Lot!


Emma Taylor


Hi there!
Would you like to get such a paper?
How about getting a customized one?

Can't find What you were Looking for?

Get access to our huge, continuously updated knowledge base

The next update will be in:
14 : 59 : 59