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Debate: Does the next Pope need to be a CEO who can reform the Curia?

Or should the priority instead be on holiness and authoritative teaching?

By on Friday, 19 November 2010

Does the papacy need a ruthless manager? (Photo: CNS)

Does the papacy need a ruthless manager? (Photo: CNS)

This week two heavyweight Church commentators said Pope Benedict XVI had failed to reform the Curia. George Weigel and John Allen, according to USA Today, argued that his neglecting of this crucial task had undermined his pontificate.

They made the comments at a conference for journalists in Washington, and they were picked up by USA Today columnist Cathy Lynn Grossman, who said:

They agreed there is, essentially, no media strategy, no war room, no one with a handle on reforming communications or, worse, reforming the governing structure itself.

According to Weigel, “the single biggest management problem” in the Church today is the inability to sack bad bishops. People expected Pope Benedict to be a managerial Rottweiler and he hasn’t been.

Both commentators, according to Cathy Lynn Grossman, said that the Pope has deferred the crucial task of reforming the Curia to his successor.

When the time comes to choose the next Pope, they apparently said:

…expect a long, long conclave as the cardinals look among themselves for someone with a demonstrated track record of managerial talent in the Vatican swamp.

While Benedict seems likely to be pope for years to come, what qualities would you want to see in his successor? Does the Church need a theologian with a CEO set of skills?

Are they right – does the Church need a slick CEO? Or would a CEO-type be too worldly, too concerned with management and PR at the expense of eternal truths? A corporate, American-style system might go down rather badly with a predominantly Italian workforce, too.

So, should the next Pope be a CEO who can reform the Curia? Or should the priority instead be on holiness and authoritative teaching?

  • paulpriest

    Next Pope ?
    Well done ! Fell for it hook, line and sinker !

    Let's scrutinise the enthymemes behind this question :
    I take it the general 'theme' to this postulate is:

    This Pope's now a busted flush – sure he may have made a few inroads with Summorum Pontificum [pity it's failed so miserably :( ] and the Anglican Ordinariate was a 'brave move' ; and he seems to have sustained a more intellectual, moral and orthodox form of Catholicism – but the 'gaffes' like the Williamson reception and 'condoms aggravate' have not helped the relationship with the world and 'ordinary Catholics'. It just shows how an aloof intellectual who's spent most of his life in the halls of academia is too naiive and unworldly to interact with the mass-media ; and can't be expected to understand the machiavellian machinations within a Behemoth corporate entity like the Vatican – filled with archaic none-too-efficient paper-shuffling old codgers [these indolent Italians!?] who should have been put out to pasture or out of their misery decades ago….


    Well ?
    Think again : You couldn't be more wrong !
    This is war – and a very cold civil one [well? terribly uncivil actually ; but you get my point]

    If you truly think His Holiness has abandoned us ?
    That he isn't doing everything he possibly can , in every way he can; to ensure the survival and fruition of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church ?

    Well you don't deserve him !

    It's bitterly ironic that when His Holiness said 'Condoms aggravate' on that plane – who came to his defence?
    Our Bishops?
    The CCN ?
    Our leading Conference lay quangocrats?
    Our 'Catholic Voice' media experts ?
    Our Journalists?


    Joanna Bogle tried on C4 news – and boy did she suffer from the subsequent abuse thrown at her for her misjudged approach from all and sundry [Ole blue eyes media-guru Austen Ivereigh being first to cast a stone - but where was he ? oh - wait a minute - he disagrees with the Pope on condoms and hiv prevention doesn't he?{ref America magazine} ]

    Who took on Jon Snow on his Channel 4 blog ?
    Defended the Pope and Joanna's argument ?
    Our Bishops or their media spokespersons?
    Our clergy ?
    Our professional laity ?
    The CCN ?
    Jack Valero or Austen Ivereigh ?


    It was ordinary common or garden Catholic bloggers.
    The ones so readily dismissed and condemned by the Tablet ; denounced as 'Taliban Catholics' by a certain Austen Ivereigh…[why does his name keep popping up ?]

    The previous debate topic was has Summorum Pontificum failed?
    No : of course it hasn't: but our Bishops and priests have!

    It's now over a week since the publication of the ground-breaking revolutionary manifesto from His Holiness Verbum Domini – Have we heard a word from our ever-so-loyal Conference? Has every Bishop in the land been setting our hearts aflame with quotations from it at every opportunity ? Or have they all been queuing up to thank Kate 'n' Wills in the vainglorious hope of an invite? Or lecturing the government on teacher training [the bitter irony given the wilderness they wrought in religious education - a Catholic schoolkid couldn't name the twelve apostles but could give you mini-biographies of the final twelve in the Xfactor and it's not as if they haven't listened in RE classes - they could tell you twelve ways to reduce your carbon footprint and draw a beautiful picture of zacchaeus up that bloody tree!!!??]

    So now all the problems in the Church are caused by 'bad Bishops' [whatever that means?] and because the Pope hasn't sacked them – it's all his fault !?

    Very nice way of passing the buck!

    How can all this be remedied?
    Make Alan Sugar [well a Catholic homunculus] next Pope?
    …ensure he has Monsignori Alastairo Campbello or Pietro Mandelsoni at his side?

    Corporate strategies – making the Catholicism-brand a hip and happening marketable commodity?
    new logo – new advertising campaigns – celebrity tie-ins – sponsorship!!!

    Did St Paul need any of this ?
    St Augustine ? St Athanasius? St Ambrose? St Phillip Neri ? The Cure d'Ars ?
    Did St Charles Borromeo need that when he reformed his diocese?
    Did St Francis de Sales when he reconverted France ?
    Did St Boniface when he evangelised Europe?
    Did the eleven Apostles ?

    The Pope hasn't failed : We've failed the Pope !

  • Mary C

    Yes, We have failed the Pope, we have failed Christ. How Christ must weep the we blame the Pope and make our own golden calves all in the name of looking good and being modern.

  • Brencel

    Ideally the next Pope will prioritise holiness and authoritative teaching while at the same time being a CEO who reforms the curia. The two virtues are not mutually exclusive and this Pope will arrive when the Holy Spirit chooses. In the meantime thank God for a Holy Pope, Benedict VI.

  • Cjkeeffe

    Of course it is teh Holy Father and not so called vaticanologist (I wonder if they are related to volcanologist?) to determine Church policy.

    As far as I am aware the Holy Father enjoys good health for a man over 80 years old. Is it not perverse to speak of teh next pope?