Mother Tereesa (Ethical Issues)

Topics: Mother Teresa, Missionaries of Charity, The Missionary Position Pages: 10 (3804 words) Published: February 26, 2013
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...
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