Monday, 16 July 2012

Who should lead in the Church?

 Our Lord ordains the Apostles

There is a brief post on the Clifton diocese LMS blog.  It reads:
The Holy Father has appointed Monsignor Philip Egan as Bishop of Portsmouth. We pray for him as he begins this ministry.

Meanwhile Clifton Diocese is also in search of new leadership. However, we turn not to the Sovereign Pontiff, but to advertising. Clifton Diocese seeks a Chief Executive. The Chief Executive will be paid £65,000 per annum.

Perhaps Priests will also be able to apply for this exciting post!

Further details of this amazing opportunity are available on the Diocesan website:

Chief Exec Advert Here!
I'm not sure how much the new bishop of Portsmouth will "earn" as a salary, or indeed what any bishop's remuneration arrangements might be but I'd be willing to guess that they are not receiving £65,000 a year.

I'm not sure what a "Chief Executive" is in this context. 

The advertisement on the Clifton website goes into a great deal of detail (although much of it couched in the sort of language that tells you nothing) but is does say that it "seeks a person who embraces the values of, but need not necessarily be a member of, the Catholic Church".  So it envisaged that a non-Catholic could do the following things for the diocese:
lead the formulation and implementation of a strategy for the long term financial security of the Diocese 

Formulate and implement operational strategy for the diocese

be a line manager for heads of department
I may be accused of being old-fashioned and even prejudiced but I'm not sure that overseeing such decision making and representing the Church to the outside world in this particular role is suitable for a layperson, let alone a non-Catholic.  In my own view it's akin to the situation in a Primary school where the teacher teaching the first communion class is not a Catholic.  The teacher may be an excellent teacher and be able to teach about the Eucharist but if not a Catholic, is it not much more difficult for that teacher convey a love of the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament?

Here in my own diocese some years ago we advertised for a layperson to run the financial department but it seems that there were no successful or suitable applicants and the role was left in the hands of a priest - who seems to be doing a perfectly good job (in fact several years later, seems to be still well thought of - not easy in a finance job!)

The role is also to assist the diocese in fund raising.  The applicant will immediately need to raise at least £65,000 per year extra before there is any success on that front.

It is obviously important that dioceses are well run but in my own experience, dioceses often try to mimic the big-business model of the world and are forever issuing DVD's, glossy brochures and running workshops but the reality is that they are sometimes embarrassingly bad, most often consigned to the wastepaper basket by most priests and the workshops are run and attended by the same few people.  The many departments and offices have to justify their existence and so point to all the "bumph" they have sent out over the year as proof of all that is going on.  The worst sort of civil service self-justification.

Although the Church needs to be efficient and engage with all the civil law and financial aspects of the society in which it functions, it is not a big business and we should not try to follow that model.  The taking on of secular names, indicates to me a desire to take on secular attitudes and fitting with the prevailing culture instead of challenging it.

I know that Bishop Mark Davies has recently had difficulties in cutting back the diocesan curia but it seems to me that spending the money in essential areas, such as employing good quality lawyers and accountants and the like who work behind the scenes as employees of the diocese is a much better use of funds than a proliferation of seemingly unnecessary departments.  

I'm not a big conspiracy theorist but I do sometimes wonder if there is a desire among some in the Church to appoint lay people to high profile posts for the sake of political correctness and because of an embarrassment at the impossibility of ordaining women.  Thus putting laypeople, and especially women, into high profile leadership roles blurs the leadership lines and makes it seem that lay people do indeed lead in the Church.  We should employ good professionals to assist the Church's mission and enable us to operate in the world, but leadership in the Church belongs to those who are ordained.  The Church teaches that Our Lord ordained just that - and them!

Some quotes to back up my outrageous and antediluvian thinking.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church makes this clear in speaking about ordination.  The ordained share in the three-fold munera of Christ as priest, prophet and king:

1538.  Ordination "confers a gift of the Holy Spirit that permits the exercise of a "sacred power" (sacra potestas) which can come only from Christ himself through his Church."

1542  At the ordination of priests, the Church prays:
Lord, holy Father, . . .
when you had appointed high priests to rule your people

1547 The ministerial priesthood is a means by which Christ unceasingly builds up and leads his Church. For this reason it is transmitted by its own sacrament, the sacrament of Holy Orders.

1548 In the ecclesial service of the ordained minister, it is Christ himself who is present to his Church as Head of his Body, Shepherd of his flock, high priest of the redemptive sacrifice, Teacher of Truth. This is what the Church means by saying that the priest, by virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders, acts in persona Christi Capitis:
It is the same priest, Christ Jesus, whose sacred person his minister truly represents. Now the minister, by reason of the sacerdotal consecration which he has received, is truly made like to the high priest and possesses the authority to act in the power and place of the person of Christ himself.
 1549 Through the ordained ministry, especially that of bishops and priests, the presence of Christ as head of the Church is made visible in the midst of the community of believers. 

The leadership is not earthly power, of course, but it is a service of headship...

 1551 This priesthood is ministerial. "That office . . . which the Lord committed to the pastors of his people, is in the strict sense of the term a service." It is entirely related to Christ and to men. It depends entirely on Christ and on his unique priesthood; it has been instituted for the good of men and the communion of the Church. the sacrament of Holy Orders communicates a "sacred power" which is none other than that of Christ. the exercise of this authority must therefore be measured against the model of Christ, who by love made himself the least and the servant of all. "The Lord said clearly that concern for his flock was proof of love for him."
In Christifideles Laici Pope John Paul says: 
When necessity and expediency in the Church require it, the Pastors, according to established norms from universal law, can entrust to the lay faithful certain offices and roles that are connected to their pastoral ministry but do not require the character of Orders... However, the exercise of such tasks does not make Pastors of the lay faithful: in fact, a person is not a minister simply in performing a task, but through sacramental ordination. Only the Sacrament of Orders gives the ordained minister a particular participation in the office of Christ, the Shepherd and Head, and in his Eternal Priesthood. The task exercised in virtue of supply takes its legitimacy formally and immediately from the official deputation given by the Pastors.
(My emphasis and the reason why care of souls can only be entrusted to pastors, why chaplain is a word that can only be applied to the ordained priest - despite that rule being broken in almost every diocese in the country.)


Ttony said...

Father, have you read the advert? The postholder will "coordinate all diocesan functions" - I thought that's what Bishops are for!

If I were applying, I'd be thinking that money was about to become a very major issue indeed; that the "management and staffing structures" in Alexander House might not hitherto have delivered (shall we say) optimal performance from staff members; and I'd wonder whether the Charity Commission might be about to come sniffing round the Finance Department.

One of the items in the "Person Specification" says: "The capacity to communicate caringly to stakeholders decisions that aren't what they hoped for, ie the ability to say 'No' and stick to it". This is breathtaking: is +Declan trying to get rid of somebody?

Ben Trovato said...

It really is quite an extraordinary advertisement: 'diocesan secretary to fulfil the role of chief executive,' with three key requirements: financial security, leading a team of professionals, and balancing service with risk management; and all for one year, initially.

I notice it is a newly created post, and the further documentation raises more questions than it answers.

What on earth is going on?

Anonymous said...

At ordination, obviously priests vow to be obidient to their bishop and his successor - not the bishop's employees...

Also, Father maybe you could share your thoughts on the fact that in your diocese the Youth Service pay £16K to their employees - much more than a priest get, or even one of the volunteers...

RJ said...

£65,000. Although probably quite modest in the secular world, that's the annual collection for several parishes combined.