Pope — CEO Or Spiritual Leader???

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Pope1I spent my first fourteen years in the Catholic church but really haven’t kept up with the details except for an occasional theology study.  I know the picture here is a once in an era event. It has been centuries since a pope has resigned from office. The first thought that came to mind when I saw the picture here is that of two very old men embracing each other. I wish the new Pope Francis a successful reign, or whatever his term is called, no matter how many years it is. He was a Jesuit and I know they embraced simplicity and empathy as their worldview. I hope he carries out that theme in his time at the head of the Catholic church.

I think almost everyone knows that the Catholic church is one of the biggest bureaucracies in the world. If they were a corporation they would definitely be in the top ten or maybe even number one.  They have accumulated vast wealth beyond most comprehension. I also know that their structure is very vertical in nature.  That is the Pope/CEO has the ultimate authority and can veto almost anything that he wants.

I don’t know whether the Pope is like a monarch who is more of a ceremonial thing or like a CEO?  I am thinking maybe a little of both. But I do know that the previous pope has had a rough time of it while he was in office and can understand why he would want to resign and let someone else take over.  I’m sure he is exhausted from all the battles the church has faced during his reign.

I am surprised that the cardinals chose a South American as their next leader. Admittedly South America and Africa are where the most potential growth comes from. But those two continents are also known for bucking the edicts of Rome on occasion.  They just don’t always align with papal authority. Now that one of their own is in charge that may change but probably not.

Ending this post I really wonder just what went on in selecting the new pope. Rome as usual tries to keep this sort of thing hidden. Maybe that is to make it seem more mysterious or spiritual. I don’t know.  I know that most of my years in the church were spent hearing Latin; I didn’t really  know why that was either.  I guess I am just too American in that I want things to happen in the light of day and not behind closed doors or behind hunched shoulders.

I enjoyed all the cartoons about speculation of what went one in the pope selection process.  The funniest one was that the first cardinal to make a basket from half court was the new pope. 🙂  I don’t hate the pope as I think many of my Protestants brothers and sisters are taught so I wish him well in his duties whatever they are.  I don’t want to insult my Catholic friends here but I really don’t think Pope Francis has any different of the track to God than any of the rest of us.  God is just not into hierarchy stuff as the Roman Catholic church is. He is, to continue the basketball theme,  more one-on-one.


  1. He IS a Jesuit. His vows remain the same. Jesuits are missionaries and work to change the world to Christ through leadership. He chose St Francis Asis as his patron to bring in the Franciscan call for alignment with the poor.
    Being Pope is not ceremonial. He works in active guidance of the flock. He knows he is a human. He does appoint others to care for the money. They report to him, but that is not his major calling. I guess you could say he is a CEO in a visionary company, not a CFO.
    Remember a good CEO has many visionary members of the organization, who often think outside the box and do not agree on everything. He rarely “vetoes” anything- but does send people back to the drawing board. Sometimes he will ask that the drawing board be kept quite until the ideas are discussed within.

    Pope Francis is Italian who was raised in South America.
    Only one other Pope resigned, he was a scholar who chose to go back to being a monk. There is speculation that Benidict has dementia and prayerfully chose to spend his days living with the disease rather then leaving the flock untended.

    Most of the Vatican treasures are museum items. They could be sold into private collections- then you and I could never see what people have done for the Glory of God. Most of the monetary treasure of the RCC is churned. Catholic Charities is known as one of the best for return on investment into the poor. Service is a large part of the RCC.

    I think it will be nice to have a conservative, pastoral Pope. I expect none of the social norms will change. I believe he will continue the stand that annihilation of children as our world’s largest mistake. For a society who does not care for their children is one that will not last.


  2. I guess I think like your do, R.J. It’s interesting to observe the the Catholic church and its’ a wonder that people still cling to such a bureauacracy. But, they do and that’s fine for them…not for me. I can’t see past the oppression of women and the scandals of the clergy.
    And thank you Janette for your scholarly lesson on the Catholic Church….always the teacher, eh?


  3. I am aligned with much of Catholic theology but I am also like you Jane in the oppression of women in the clergy and other such things. As Janette said so well above much of the church’s wealth in in their art treasures but there is also a mammoth amount of real estate owned by the church. I think I heard that they are the number one property holder in several major U.S. cities.

    I have always had great respect for the Jesuit order and particularly for Saint Francis. Even for Sister Marrela who made me keep my nose in a small circle on the blackboard for what seemed like hours at that young age for something I didn’t do. I think that was the first time I discovered that there was injustice in this world… 🙂


  4. St Francis Xavier (Jesuit missionary founder) and St Francis Asis (Franciscan friend of the poor founder).
    As for teachers teaching school when you were young….how you were treated was a norm and not just Catholic 😉
    Number one property owner??? I guess if you took every Church and school that is Catholic and then add the Food Kitchens, Missions, Universities and Hospitals. The Holy Sea does direct what can and cannot have the Catholic name on it. It does not profit from those pieces of land. Could be….but not for the purpose of sitting on it to make money. Could he sell the land to give the money away? I don’t know. I would think that he would have a much longer view of the good he could do by keeping such institutions open.


  5. A quick google search or articles from newspapers say this:
    The Church owns many properties other that hospitals and missions, etc…They own blocks of office buildings, flats, retail, etc…in many cities and countries, a virtual financial empire worth billions of dollars. Just how many billions is unclear due to the secretive nature of the Vatican…best estimates are between 10 and 15 billion. I don’t know how Janette can say they don’t profit from them?? Then what would be the point of buying them? They also have vast investments in banking, insurance, construction, etc…ostensibly for profit. I’m sure millions are used for good works, but a great deal must be used to maintain this enormous Vatican government.

    I know there was talk of ending their tax exempt status in Italy due to the crisis…not sure if that has happened yet. R.J., do you know?


    1. Whenever humans touch anything there is a natural tendency toward corruption. That just seems to be a given and the RCC is certainly no exception. Yes, they do need billions to maintain their infrastructure. The mammoth cathedrals in Rome alone are very very expensive.

      I agree with Janette that the RCC is one of the strongest denominations (yes, I know they don’t like to be called a denomination 🙂 ) when it comes to the respect and treatment of the poor. That is one of the things I admire much about them. They actually listen to Jesus’ words and try to put them into action. Many Protestant denominations seem to almost ignore that and instead to concentrate almost totally on their personal salvation.

      But getting back to the human condition of tainting even the best efforts, given the priest scandals it is obvious they are not immune. I don’t know about the recent events between Rome and Italy. I do know that Italy much like the rest of Europe is becoming “post-Christian” so that just might be happening.


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