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Friday, February 24, 2017
Priests speak out on church leadership
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¬†Catholic priests, when asked about leadership, place the greatest value on compassion and empathy, and an equal weight on prayer and holiness. A group of British priests were asked for their top five attributes for leaders in the Church, whether clerical or lay. The results are reported in the latest issue of The Pastoral Review in an article by Tom Horwood, a former head of the Catholic Media Office. The priests next suggested humility and enabling others. They then agreed that leaders should be able to consult and communicate, possess conviction, prioritise and have the vision to see the 'big picture'. Many other attributes were suggested, about which there was less consensus, including a sense of humour, knowledge, obedience, honesty, accountability and courage. Mr Horwood said: "The email survey is a snapshot of views rather than a scientifically rigorous piece of opinion research. Although the priests echo the emphasis on prayer, holiness and prudence that is evident in the Vatican's official recruitment process, they agree with secular managers in valuing vision and communication, both key strategic attributes. This suggests that a recruitment process that ignores these latter factors is as incomplete in a church setting as elsewhere." Mr Horwood argues in his article and in his recent book, The Future of the Catholic Church in Britain, that the Church would benefit from learning from what works in other settings. "The results of the survey are also helpful in illustrating the distinctiveness of the Catholic Church that must be retained in any attempt to import techniques from elsewhere," he added. He urges the Church to adopt a more strategic approach to tackle the critical issues facing it today, issues like the decline in membership and commitment, poor communication and child protection. In his article, he concludes: "Effective leadership and authority are critical factors for the future of the Catholic Church in Britain. For it to thrive as well as survive, the Church will need to reappraise what qualities it seeks in leaders, whether bishops, parish priests or active lay Catholics. Just as, historically, the Church has benefited from seeing what was good in secular society and Christianising it, modern leadership theory and practice offer a valuable resource that the Church neglects at its peril." Information on The Pastoral Review is at Information on The Future of the Catholic Church in Britain is at: To order a copy, send a cheque for £8.99 payable to 'Laicos Press' to Laicos Press, 2nd Floor, 145-157 St John Street, London EC1V 4PY.
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