Debate: Does the next Pope need to be a CEO who can reform the Curia?

Does the papacy need a ruthless manager? (Photo: CNS)

This week two heavyweight Church commentators said Pope Benedict XVI had failed to reform the Curia. George Weigel and John Allen, according to USA Today, argued that his neglecting of this crucial task had undermined his pontificate.

They made the comments at a conference for journalists in Washington, and they were picked up by USA Today columnist Cathy Lynn Grossman, who said:

They agreed there is, essentially, no media strategy, no war room, no one with a handle on reforming communications or, worse, reforming the governing structure itself.

According to Weigel, “the single biggest management problem” in the Church today is the inability to sack bad bishops. People expected Pope Benedict to be a managerial Rottweiler and he hasn’t been.

Both commentators, according to Cathy Lynn Grossman, said that the Pope has deferred the crucial task of reforming the Curia to his successor.

When the time comes to choose the next Pope, they apparently said:

…expect a long, long conclave as the cardinals look among themselves for someone with a demonstrated track record of managerial talent in the Vatican swamp.

While Benedict seems likely to be pope for years to come, what qualities would you want to see in his successor? Does the Church need a theologian with a CEO set of skills?

Are they right – does the Church need a slick CEO? Or would a CEO-type be too worldly, too concerned with management and PR at the expense of eternal truths? A corporate, American-style system might go down rather badly with a predominantly Italian workforce, too.

So, should the next Pope be a CEO who can reform the Curia? Or should the priority instead be on holiness and authoritative teaching?