Monsignor Harry J. Byrne, JCD * * * Comment/

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Location: 3103 Arlington Avenue,, Bronx, NY 10463, United States

November 15, 2009


Sunday's New York Times is a challenge to be met by selective reading. Right after the news section, I turn to "Business", where, on page two, "Corner Office" carries interviews on leadership with university presidents, CEOs, and chiefs of large organizations. Their experiences and insights might well be helpful to our church leaders in honing their own leadership qualities in governing parishes, dioceses, and the world-wide church. Here are some insights on leadership, provided in a recent interview with Ms. Drew Faust, President, Harvard University:

Understand the context in which you are leading: an organization to which people have a loyalty and which has a long history of loyalty. This can cause resistance to needed change. So a willingness to change is to be sensitively cultivated. There are different constituencies, each to be dealt with differently. Communication with these different constituencies is important to develop a sense of identity and cohesiveness of the whole, wherein each dean or school (Law, Medicine, etc) comes to appreciate the benefits from the larger organization in which it plays a part. Everybody cannot be made happy. But if people feel that they are being listened to and their views are being taken into account, decisions will be more graciously accepted. Differences cannot be allowed to degenerate into enmities, as can happen. Belief in the organization by its participants is essential. It can be secured only if they feel they are being invested in the institution, being made to have a stake in it, as well as being asked to respond to its needs. We are in the people-business. and wide communication is needed to bring people enthusiastically into the organization. I have always been amazed at how many people are willing to help if the appropriate approach is used. For a leader, there must not be a code that others must use to enter into the conversation. The leader must be seen as he/she really is, not encased in a masque or surrounded by mystery. Finally, there is a benefit from bringing into the administration individuals with different points of view or parties. I have in mind Lincoln, who brought into his cabinet some who were strong opponents: William H. Seward as Secretary of State and Salmon P. Chase as Secretary of the Treasury. They were of enormous help to Lincoln.
Thus opined the President of Harvard. Simply read her managerial necessaries, transposed into terms of the management of a parish and of a
diocese into what has made a good pastor and a good bishop and what has characterized an ineffective pastor and an ineffective bishop. Think about it! I would simply conclude by looking to these people-management qualities in the light of Benedict's responding to dissident Anglicans and schismatic Lefebrists. He talks to them, consults with them, despite profound differences, to bring them into the unity of the Church, to bring them under his control! What about Voice of the Faithful, We are Church, Call to Action? Their members are, for the most part, practicing Catholics, going to Sunday Mass, receiving Communion, on the parish envelope system, baptized, married, and buried in their Catholic Church. What about you and your bishops talking to this crowd?

Well, Uncle Harry, sit down here. Let me tell you. They are already under my control. That is all that really matters! Unity under the Pope! Control by the Pope! They prattle on about women priests, married priests, civil benefits for gays. I don't need to bring them into the fold. They're already in! Their new ideas would upset the established order. Why should I or my bishops waste time talking to them? We have nothing to learn from them. All you need to know is in the holy magisterium. Its all there. Settled! Quite simple. And the nuns? We talk to them. Yes, I know, but we do talk to them, do we not? I know it's called an investigation, but its a friendly investigation! By one of my favorite dicasteries!

Anybody for Harvard's President as B16's Chief of Communications?