Defense Date


Graduation Date

Summer 2012


Immediate Access

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

David F. Kelly


Catholic mission, Health care, Leadership, Organizational ethics, Stewardship, Virtuous organizations


Virtuous organizations are those displaying behaviors and works consistent with social norms, organizational core values, and mission. Through relationships and behaviors, organizations formulate character for which they are known. This dissertation has proposed three secular components essential to the character of a virtuous organization: agency, social responsibility and ethical environment. When Catholic mission is the impetus to organizational purpose, the secular components of the virtuous organization are deepened from that faith perspective's mission related religious teachings. A discussion of the secular and religious discourse pairs agency with sanctity of human person, social responsibility with common good, and ethical environment with discipleship to exemplify how Catholic mission inspires that tradition's faith-based virtuous organizations. Catholic mission inspired health care, education or any of the social ministries is ethically significant because it offers an unparalleled context within which moral issues can be considered. The dissertation proposes that the ethical significance of the virtuous organization inspired by Catholic mission is threefold. First is its enduring witness to the sanctity of human life as a gift from God. Second, is Catholic mission's challenge to the broader community to attend to the common good and to a preferential concern for the poor and disenfranchised. Third, Catholic mission is a witnesses to something greater than the organization itself, its witnesses to the call to and response of Christian discipleship. Catholic health care organizations where organizational character reflects these three dimensions are virtuous, are ethically significant and are needed in today's society.

From a practical position the dissertation considers three dimensions of health care in order to explore the ethical significance of the Catholic mission and its themes. From a clinical perspective, medically assisted nutrition and hydration at the end of life is considered in light of agency and sanctity. From a governance perspective, health care access is considered in light of social responsibility and common good. From a leadership perspective, governance is considered in light of ethical environment and discipleship. The application of the paired secular components and religious themes emphasizes the ethical significance of Catholic mission and encourages its continued presence in the health care