Wanted: Jesus with an MBA

Tuesday, 12 March, 2013

“Its fastest growing markets are in the emerging world. The number of Catholics in sub-Saharan Africa has increased from 1m in 1910 to 171m today, or from 1% of the total to 16%. The number in the Asia-Pacific region has risen from 14m in 1910 to 131m today, or from 5% of the total to 12%.” Those are the kind of numbers that any manager would like to hear and in “Pope, CEO,” The Economist treats the Catholic Church as an enterprise in need of management advice. Inspired by this market-driven approach to the papacy, the BBC invited Revered Robert Gahl, an associate professor of ethics at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome, to write “The pope as CEO.” Snippet:

“Many of the cardinals hope that the next pope will be able to bring managerial efficiencies to the Vatican to empower all of those dedicated clerics and lay people who give their lives while serving behind those ancient walls.

Given the need for reform, no-one should be surprised if the next pope, while drawing from his own managerial talents, were also to rely upon experts in managerial consulting while taking on organisational reform so as to better serve the mission entrusted to him by the board of directors.”

There’s a lot of truth in these observations, but it is also true that the papacy existed long before The Economist, the BBC, the MBA and the CEO, and it will continue long after they have been replaced by other channels and acronyms. A secular “solution” for a belief system would neither please secularists nor believers, but the speculation does fill space until the white smoke emerges and, in the case of The Economist and the BBC, the conjecture is so erudite that it’s enjoyable.

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