Pope Francis Says “Don’t Treat The Church Like A Business.” This Means It Has To Be Run Better Than A Business

 

Whoa, Frank. Are you putting words in Pope Francis’s mouth?

No, dear reader. I’m just telling it like it is. You know how some folks can wax eloquent about truth, goodness, and beauty, and how the Church should make better art, etc? I have no skills in the fine arts, so I generally don’t write about such things.

But I do know a thing or two about the art of leadership, and the art of effective human resource management. As for Pope Francis’s words on business, they are as plain as day (emphasis is mine).

Pope Francis condemned priests and laity who turn their parishes into a “business” by charging for things such as baptisms, blessings and Mass intentions – calling it a scandal that’s hard to forgive. “It is interesting: the people of God can forgive their priests, when they are weak; when they slip on a sin, the people know how to forgive them,” the Pope told mass attendees in the Vatican’s Saint Martha guesthouse on Nov. 21. “But there are two things that the people of God cannot forgive: a priest attached to money and a priest who mistreats people. This they cannot forgive! It is scandalous…”

Read more.

Just as one doesn’t expect to be presented with a price list in the instances Pope Francis speaks about above, one shouldn’t expect to be given the runaround when dealing with a parish business office, or an apostolate’s back office operations, etc., either. Because doing so is certainly mistreating people, which is, as il Papa notes,  scandalous.

It’s also bad business, which in the Church’s case means it’s bad for evangelization. Qoheleth describes bad business practices as follows,

As dead flies spoil a jar of perfumed oil, a little folly weighs heavier than wisdom and honor (Ecclesiastes 10:1).

Do you know what the most important resource of a business is? People. Whether we are talking about customers, or employees, people matter.  It takes no leap of the imagination to realize that the same applies to the Church.

I know you don’t want to hear Joe Six-Pack, USMC go on and on about being committed to excellence, and refusing to accept mediocrity, and how working with people to accomplish (impossible?) goals is important.  So I’ve lined up Lou Holtz to talk to you instead.

Roll clip,

When Pope Francis said to go out and make a mess, see, he didn’t mean to do so inside the parish business office. And he didn’t mean for us to make a hash out of how we treat people (vendors, speakers, prospective parishioners, the needy, etc.).

Because if folks are being treated better at Starbucks than they are in the house of Our Lord, then we’re doing it wrong.

“For the people of this world are more astute in dealing with their own kind than are the people of light.”

I’m pretty sure Jesus didn’t mean that as a compliment. We can do better. We should do better.

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