Wanted: CEO pope to clean up unholy mess at Vatican

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donald wuerl

Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washinton. Photo courtesy George Martell/The Pilot Media Group.

Cardinal Sean P.  O’Malley celebrates Sunday Mass at the Pontifical North American College March 3, 2013. RNS photo by Gregory L. Tracy/The Pilot.

Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley celebrates Sunday Mass at the Pontifical North American College March 3, 2013. RNS photo by Gregory L. Tracy/The Pilot.

(RNS) With the voting now underway in the election of a new pope, the College of Cardinals will seek a prayerful, joyful pastor — and a savvy enough manager who could bring order to the medieval chaos of church bureaucracy.

A CEO pope, if you will.

There are three things any bishop — including the next pope, the Bishop of Rome — needs to know, said the Rev. James Martin, a graduate of the Wharton School of Business and a veteran of six years in the business world before he became a Jesuit priest.

“They have to know how to hire, know how to fire and know you can learn from the world of business. Too often, business has been seen as beneath our dignity as churchmen,” Martin said.

The Roman Catholic Church is structured like a franchise organization, with an overall headquarters in Rome that guides — and guards — the brand and the fairly autonomous branches, the local dioceses, said Charles Zech, director of the Center for the Study of Church Management at Villanova University.

The new pope need not be an accountant or a financial wizard but, Zech said, he does have to “provide better leadership in protecting the brand name and clean up the headquarters to make it more effective and rid it of its reputation for scandal.”

Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Quebec prays in the chapel of Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington, N.Y., during his visit to the seminary in 2007. RNS photo by Gregory A. Shemitz.

Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Quebec prays in the chapel of Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington, N.Y., during his visit to the seminary in 2007. RNS photo by Gregory A. Shemitz.

In the 2005 conclave, the leading candidate, theologian Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, warned electors that he was no manager. They chose him anyway, and Pope Benedict XVI left the Vatican with its administrative wheels broken down and mired in the mud.

“They can’t do that again. Good governance is essential to a vital church,” said Francis Butler, an expert in church governance and philanthropy.

“The church can’t take another bad administration. It cannot tolerate any more scandals,” said Butler, who headed Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities Inc. for decades before retiring to his own philanthropy consulting firm last year.

“Little by little,” Butler said, church leaders have begun to “appreciate the connection between transparency, openness and participation of the lay faithful” with the strength and viability of the church.

So, which cardinals have management chops? Experts claimed no inside knowledge of cardinals’ deliberations, but they did name some standouts in their observation.

Several mentioned Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, who came into a dire situation in 2003 when Boston was the epicenter of the clergy sex abuse crisis and in financial shambles.

“O’Malley did a splendid job bringing dramatic administrative changes in the archdiocese,” Butler said. He called in an autonomous group of lay experts who conducted a full audit of the archdiocese and he quietly and effectively turned around public perception that funds had been misused, Butler said: “He is an innovator who is totally devoted to disclosure. He knows about building trust.”

Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washinton. Photo courtesy George Martell/The Pilot Media Group.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington. Photo courtesy George Martell/The Pilot Media Group.

But Jason Berry, author of “The Secret Life of Money in the Catholic Church,” said that while O’Malley is pastoral and spiritual, his severe parish-and-school consolidation plan may have cost the archdiocese millions in donations and incalculable good will.

Others cited for managerial skills:

Cardinal Marc Ouellet, formerly the archbishop of Quebec and now head of the Congregation for Bishops, “knows the abilities of the world’s bishops” because that office recommends names to the pope for appointment, Zech said. It’s high risk to make a change in the Curia, the bureaucracy, “like firing a family member,” but it might be essential.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington, D.C., and former bishop of Pittsburgh, “doesn’t have the flash of some people, but he has the whole package: He’s faced administrative challenges, done a good job organizationally and I have lot of respect for him as a prelate and a manager,” Zech said.

Daniel N. DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston, Texas Age: 63 Born: May 23, 1949 in Steubenville, Ohio Education: Catholic University of America, Duquesne University (Pittsburgh) Ordained a priest: 1977 in Pittsburgh Posts held: coadjutor bishop of Sioux City, Iowa (1997-1998); bishop of Sioux City, Iowa (1998-2004); coadjutor archbishop of Galveston-Houston (2004-2006); archbishop of Galveston-Houston (2006-present) Elevated to cardinal: 2007 by Pope Benedict XVI (RNS photo courtesy Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston)

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, an archdiocese with substantial oil industry wealth, could be seen as representative of younger, newer leadership with stronger managerial experience. Photo courtesy Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, an archdiocese with substantial oil industry wealth, could be seen as representative of younger, newer leadership with stronger managerial experience. “He may not be known for charisma or in the front ranks of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops,” but he understands modern administration, Berry said.

Cardinal Angelo Scola, archbishop of Milan, would bring the papacy back to the Italians, and may be the strong voice who can “bring discipline to the church,” Berry said. He’s a theological conservative and a serious intellectual, and he comes from the largest archdiocese in the world. Even if Scola did not personally crack the whip, he might name a secretary of state who would, Berry said.

angelo scola

Cardinal Angelo Scola. Photo by Grzegorz Galazka.

“All the cardinals want someone to restore the image of the papacy and the persona of the pope as a symbol of peace and a moral statesman on the global stage,” Berry said. “(What) they want is someone who will do the deep surgery needed to deliver that.”

(Cathy Lynn Grossman writes for USA Today.)

  • The Church will need to keep pace with modernity’s internet and the forces of various media sources to counter effectively the pull of the “world, the flesh, and the devil;” the morals message of the Church, along with all unchangeable essential doctrines, and the rationale for the church’s positions, need to be thoroughly promulgated to the entire world. The media people have to know that it is not the arbiter of what the church teaches. Being a Christian is a hell of a struggle, yes, but it is a struggle toward heaven, and we Christians have to understand that a lot of media personnel are not only secular; some are agnostics, and some are practicing atheists, in denial of the spiritual realities pertaining to God’s creations. They have only an axe to grind and whack the Catholic and other Christian bodies as being out of touch with the world, meaning that the Church is wrong in not giving in to what the world says true religion is or what it should be. Again, living the Christian life is a struggle; it is a fight. And we Christians will have to honor and respect those solely of the “modern” world for their right to exercise their free will and intellect. Modern man finds nothing as absolute, absolutely nothing, for all things are only as relevant as relativity allows them to be, and relates them to be, as though it was nothingness which of itself created the world, and all of creation, including man with it.

  • gilhcan

    Well, the Catholic Church has had two very poor administrative systems in a row now, that of John Paul II and that of his chosen successor, Benedict. We have no idea what a government under John Paul I would have been because he was so quickly dispatched from “natural causes”–according to the super-secret Vatican.

    Every operation, even the smallest, requires efficient management. “Too big to fail,” is just not true, not with Wall St., USA, and not with the Vatican. The bigger the organization, the more prone to failure, precisely because there is a greater tendency in such management toward corruption.

    “Too big” is a guarantee of failure. In autocratic, royal, monarchical systems, as we’ve seen throughout history, as we have seen throughout the history of the Catholic Church, “too big” has always led to failure. The Catholic Church does not have a pretty history. Every time the Vatican has attempted to manage the details of diocesan and parish and personal life world-wide, it has failed miserably.

    That failure may be hidden in regalia and pageantry, but it is still failure, still there, still contaminating, and the germ of further failure. As in the continuing failure of the sexual abuse of young people and its cover-up. The corruption, the sins, the crimes only lead to failure that is a contradiction of all the publicly preached principles of the church. Abortion, contraception, celibacy, no ordination of women, these are only efforts to distract attention from more serious problems like sex abuse..

    Why are some cardinals worrying about good management now? It’s too late, and none of them have the required talent or training to vote for any reasonable change. They’d have to go outside the College of Cardinals to find someone really competent. The Catholic church needs to be broken up, and lay people must be brought into the intrinsic management processes. Reformation churches have already provided grand examples. Study them.

  • CMR

    The secrets are out now and the damage is done. A new Pope will not change anything… The church “fathers” will always choose their “traditions” over Bible TRUTHS.(Matthew 15:1-20) Most of the church’s teachings are not based on firm scriptural foundations. The time will come when God will call her acts of injustice to mind and will “judge” her.(Revelation chp. 17&18) It won’t be pretty but it must take place. So heed His warning NOW and maybe you will escape God’s wrath when He turns his attention to “Babylon the Great” to destroy her.(Rev.18:4-8)