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Managing Essentials

International Despite the Pope’s Pope’s resignation: Catholicism is neither a corporation nor a social movement
The pope spoke softly in Latin and the world has to thank Giovanna Chirri for translating and twittering the sensational news into the world without delay. She summarized the statement in the tweet "B16 [Benedict XVI] has resigned. Leaves pontificate from 28 February". In fact, the news was sensational in the truest sense of the word. For the first time since 1415 a pope resigned and he did not do it to heal a schism of the church with three popes and anti-popes as in the time of Gregory XII. In carefully minced Latin words, Benedict XVI reasoned about his advanced age and the need for a more agile leader in these fast changing times. His decision was met with benevolence by his church, the public, and the media. For his inauguration, Germany’s “Bild”, Europe’s biggest tabloid, ran the headline “We are pope”. On his visit to Germany in 2011, the tabloid welcomed him with this phrase and his picture on a poster measuring 45 by 60 meters covering its headquarters. Now “Bild’s” headlines read “We are human”, and with these words reflect the predominant sentiment shared worldwide. However, as Giles Fraser from the “Guardian” observed, the resignation also lead to the perception that the “papacy is simply a job”. The pope stressed in his last general audience that he did not “abandon the cross”, also answering critical remarks of a Polish cardinal. Even if the reasons are regarded as convincing, there is a difference between an inevitable and a voluntary succession. In consequence, the metaphor of CEOs changing the helm of a multinational corporation inspired many columnists like Schumpeter in the “Economist” or Bill Keller in the “New York Times”. Seen as a corporation, Catholicism seems to have serious problems. Evolutionists, astrophysicists, and other scientists gnaw at dogmatic fundamentals which have been shaken since Galileo submitted his theses some hundred years ago. In addition, there are at least since some years obvious and very significant problems with the staff of the Catholic Church. The pope’s resignation was surrounded by even more testimony from Australia to Scotland about indecent and often criminal behavior of clerics. Given the rank of the offenders and the number of victims worldwide, the initial “isolated cases” approach seems increasingly inadequate. The staffing system and its controls are urgently in need of a fundamental revision. Finally, some local divisions had to declare financial bankruptcy due to their inability to pay fines for criminal staff and compensation to the victims. Given the heightened attention of these matters, questions regarding celibacy, female priests or the form of ecumenical services raised by modernists within the church are of subordinate importance. As pressing as these problems appear, the Catholic Church has never had to answer

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analysts for quarterly results, and thus the time frame and form of dealing with problems differ considerably from the corporate world. Its wheels grind slowly. The rehabilitation of Galileo is seriously considered, a Vatican spokesman announced some years ago. Clear communication was never an essential. Everywhere on earth mass was held in Latin until, in the 1960ties, the second Vatican Council permitted other languages to be used. The pope resigned in Latin, but experts say most Cardinals are not fluent in this language anymore. Despite these problems, the Catholic Church was successful in keeping competition in check. Since 1517 an alternative form of Christianity developed which was championed from its very beginning by Martin Luther to tackle communication deficits and create transparent structures. Protestantism developed into a heterogenic movement. Many of the protestant churches, however, long held their ceremonies in the local language and institutionalized both transparent and democratic structures. Some of them recently opened up to female priests and bishops and decided for tolerance with regard to the sexual orientation of their clergy. It did not and does not help much to win over new members. Today and 600 hundred years after the reformation, the Catholic Church still has close to 1.2 bn members, surpassing the protestants, and the pope is perceived not only as the head of the Catholic Church, but symbolizes Christianity as a whole, especially for those outside Christianity, which accounts for 69% of the world’s population. Also recent data by Pew Research indicates that the bond between church and membership is stronger in the Catholic Church than in many forms of Protestantism. In all industrialized countries churches have lost membership and people attend mass less often, but the churches of Catholicism are fuller and its members more observant. This does not imply that Catholics do not care about the structure and doctrines of their church. The strong reaction to pedophile priests in the last years shows they do in the moment in which their parish life becomes practically and locally affected. Most of them will also be aware of the fact that their bishop is directly installed by the pope. Many will have a catechism and a few will base their daily life on the rules explicated there. However, overall there are tremendous gaps between religious rules and practical life. Rules regarded as not fitting personal lifestyles about matters like contraception, divorce or attending mass are regularly ignored. Only a minority attends mass weekly despite the admonishing words by Benedict XVI who repeatedly stressed that maintaining the qualities of church and belief system is more important than the size of the membership. And only a very small minority will know about or support the sophisms of catholic theology leading Benedict XVI to state that in the strict sense Protestants cannot form churches but only “ecclesial communities”. For the majority of humankind the pope symbolizes the Christian religion, for Catholics he is the man closest to God out of their biblical interpretation and the dogmatic theology developed in the history of their church. The pope gets elected, the electors express,

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however, not self-interest in their voting but try to execute what they perceive as God’s will. The elected is not infallible in general, but he is conceived to be it in the moment he speaks “ex cathedra”. This privilege is rarely invoked, last time more than 50 years ago. However, the way he gets into office and the power to invoke infallibility put him in a special position. Based upon this background, a German Cardinal spoke in his first reaction to the resignation of a possible “demystification”, an issue also addressed indirectly by the pope himself when he accentuated the prayers and consultations during his decision process. Such a demystification is welcomed by many, especially leading clerics of other Christian beliefs, as a first step to a more open and with regard to other Christians more egalitarian Catholic church. It is feared by others for whom a meeting of several “pope emeriti” in the gardens of the Vatican expresses a relativism failing the absolute claims Catholicism has in its dogma and procedures. How human should a pope be – and how easy to understand? By speaking in Latin the pope was expressing an old tradition of the church and he highlighted the element of trust which is the basis of the relation between the church and its faithful. The Catholic Church does not understand itself as a kind of democracy which fulfills wishes of its membership or looks at trends in the society. The church and the pope are infallible, not its members. Therefore, the church welcomes those who are willing to follow its canon of teachings and dogma. The pope was well aware that his resignation was a step out of a tradition. By submitting it in Latin he stressed both, the need to keep some traditions and to question others. It will, however, not only be up to the new pope but also to the members of the Church to decide which traditions may be obsolete and if Benedict’s XVI step is the beginning of a new era or just the exception of a rule valid for more than 600 years.
Pope resignation: Who speaks Latin these days? (Robin Banerji) www.managing-essentials.com/3bt The pope's resignation has finally revealed that the papacy is simply a job (Giles Fraser) www.managing-essentials.com/3bu Catholicism Inc. (Bill Keller) www.managing-essentials.com/3bv Pope, CEO: Management tips for the Catholic church (Schumpeter, The Economist staff) www.managing-essentials.com/3bw Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life www.managing-essentials.com/3bx Dismay and anger as Pope declares Protestants cannot have churches (John Hooper and Stephen Bates) www.managing-essentials.com/3by

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Zero Hour at the Vatican: A Bitter Struggle for Control of the Catholic Church (Der Spiegel staff) www.managing-essentials.com/3bz