Monday, 11 February 2013
There will be Popes long after Nostradamus is forgotten.
You don't have to love it to respect it. The catholic church is one of the largest organizations on earth and just about the simplest. It comes with a whiff of revolution. The tinfoil brigade who love Nostradamus and everything contrary are like flies clustered on the outside of a great house. That house will prevail for centuries and will soon appoint a new pope.
Drucker wrote: "There are only four layers of management: pope, archbishop, bishop, and parish priest. Armies have 10 layers, and General Motors close to 20. And what in business is called the 'central staff overhead'—for the most transnational of all organizations and one serving close to a billion members worldwide—numbers 1,500 people in Rome, far fewer than are employed in the headquarters of the large American corporation".
(Even that overstates it. "An archbishop cannot go to a bishop and tell him what to do, as they are the same rank". He has a larger diocese and can chair meetings. The cardinals are executive assistants to the Pope.)
The catholic church has a management structure that has renewed itself for almost two thousand years. Celibacy eliminates family dynasties. While tyrants set themselves above the law, the catholic church has a written guide which it interprets but largely respects. Basic service is delivered equally to the rich and poor. No wealthy man is served a better Eucharist. Funding is mandatory for members but no one comes to audit your books if you don't donate. Few of its leaders are bought and sold like politicians. It's no democracy but membership is voluntary and it is one of our least racist organizations. Your place of birth and tribe and wealth are not conditions of membership. A large part of its public mission encourages altruism. You don't have to love it to respect it.
The Pope helps keep world politicians a bit uncomfortable and is hard to classify. The transnational support of the faithful in their hundreds of millions always has a whiff of revolution about it. Long live the Pope!
Update: All is not well in the Vatican, however.