Defense Date


Graduation Date

Fall 1-1-2017


One-year Embargo

Submission Type


Degree Name



Health Care Ethics


McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Gerard Magill

Committee Member

Henk ten Have

Committee Member

James Chukwuma Okoye


Solidarity, Vulnerable, Ethics, Empowerment, Spiritan charism, Dignity, Solidarity with the Vulnerable, Justice, Human Rights, Inculturation, Community


This dissertation focuses on global healthcare ethics from a Spiritan perspective. As the Spiritan Congregation developed over centuries, its core charism has been implemented in a variety of ministries articulated in terms of solidarity with the vulnerable (SWV). There has been very little discussion of the contribution of the Spiritan charism to ethics in general or healthcare ethics more specifically, as discussed in this work. Nevertheless, from the outset, the Spiritan ministry emphasized the importance of individual dignity as a foundation for a commitment to the poor. The focus clarified the importance of respecting the vulnerable. Over time, the Spiritan charism referred to this multi-tiered interaction as SWV. As a result, solidarity with the vulnerable came to characterize the Spiritan charism and also to shape a Spiritan approach to ethics that would guide its ministry.

Although the many ministries that are inspired by the Spiritan charism have very significant implications for healthcare, there is a significant need to explore this rapport explicitly. The Spiritan charism of SWV highlights three components: engagement, identification, and intervention, for its practical ministries. These mechanisms are combined in an integrative manner to explain that SWV shapes a Spiritan approach to ethics. The analysis applies this approach to global healthcare ethics, by interpreting three major areas in global bioethics namely, Access to Healthcare, Participation in Research, and Availability of Medical Technology, from the perspective of the Spiritan approach.

This dissertation argues that the Spiritan charism which models an effort to seek empowerment of the vulnerable, out of respect for human dignity, rights, and justice can influence the public sector to promote equitable access to healthcare services in solidarity with those lacking basic access. Millions of people without adequate health care have shown that policies that do not further fair distribution of socioeconomic conditions for basic access have failed. This dissertation explains how SWV that characterizes the Spiritan charism can shape a Spiritan approach to ethics to shed light on each of the three major topics in global healthcare ethics. SWV enables the Spiritan charism to provide a distinctive contribution to global healthcare ethics.