The Pope, The Queen and Musings on Leadership

The Pope

I was talking to the local baptist minister yesterday, Rob, who’s doctorate was in Catholic Ecclesiology. He confessed that he was disappointed in the Pope’s decision to resign.

During the late tenure of Pope John Paul II, as the man got increasingly frail and unable to speak properly, Rob suggested he showed a vulnerability in church leadership that is rarely seen or acknowledged. That you could be a spiritual leader with a broken body, and limited physical or intellectual strength. It was a testimony to what the church sees as important.

Pope Benedict’s declaration that he did not have the physical or emotional strength to continue doing his job properly, seemed to be a claim that it was his physical or emotional strength that was important. A very different view from his predecessor.

I’ve not a lot to add to that, other than it is a fascinating angle, and one I’ve found rather affecting today.

The Queen

There has been inevitable speculation online as to whether the Queen will also resign. Countered by declarations that, of course she won’t. I suspect she will not, either. Having seen what her uncle’s abdication did to her family, I believe those who say she holds a very dim view of it.

But that reminded me of a previous conversation I had with my wife. The Anglican church is currently in hot water over the issue of Women bishops. It is being held hostage by a very well organized and uncompromising minority, and is looking increasingly medieval and irrelevant as a result. But, she pointed out, the supreme governor of the Church of England is the Queen. Okay her practical authority is not strong in that role, but her job is to provide spiritual protection and oversight. So perhaps the issue with women bishops is more about petty politics than about anything the church would actually claim is significant.

Musings on Leadership

Both issues seem to speak of a disconnect between the claims of the churches and their practical reality. Claims are made about what is significant, but it is difficult to follow those through.

It is difficult, I think, because churches are ultimately human institutions, and they succeed or fail in the same way all institutions do. So while it is possible to appear as if you take the teaching seriously, behind the scenes you’d better function with a bit more realpolitik. Particularly around leadership.



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5 responses to “The Pope, The Queen and Musings on Leadership

  1. Or is this fellow resigning so that ‘his’ Cardinals remain loyal to him and vote in a Pope that he and his conservative gang get the type of Pope they want. ‘Cause if he were dead, maybe some of the Cardinals would say, “Well, no more of that shit. He’s dead and won’t know how I voted.”

    Agreeing: Maybe both issues are more political than meet the eye.

  2. Boz

    “It is being held hostage by a very well organized and uncompromising minority”

    How specifically is this metaphorical hostage-taking occuring? What is the minority threatening to destroy?

  3. Ian

    Boz, The church. The nuclear option that is being threatened (openly) is a schism.

    Part of the problem, as I understand it (and I claim no knowledge beyond what I’ve read on Anglican blogs), is that if churches leave with their ministers this would cause massive problems with congregations meeting in buildings that didn’t belong to them, and buildings having no congregations and not enough priests to serve them. It would be a legal and logistical nightmare.

    To the extent that the church was seriously looking at a compromise where certain priests could opt-out of women’s leadership and be placed under the authority of a parallel patriarchal authority structure. Schism without the schism.

    As I said, I’m way off from being an expert, and I mostly read the blogs of the liberal end of the church. So if you’re asking because you disagree with that assessment, then I’d be very happy to hear your angle. If you’re asking because you don’t know – then of course, I’m right 😉

  4. Boz

    haha 🙂

    I’m asking because I don’t know.

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