'Catholicism Inc.' Needs a Turnaround Artist

The pope is really a CEO: Bill Keller

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 18, 2013 12:26 PM CST

(Newser) – The Catholic Church will be getting a new leader soon, and the cardinals making the selection would do well to think of the church as a business, writes Bill Keller in a New York Times op-ed titled, "Catholicism Inc." After all, the church employs more than a million, serves 1.2 billion "customers," and has tons of real estate. It's not just any business, but "a global business in distress," suffering from poor management and a lack of modernization, not to mention a few scandals. What it needs is a CEO who can "tweak its marketing, straighten out its finances, up its recruiting game, and repair its battered brand."

Keller asked professional consultants for lessons the church could take away from the business world. Their advice: The new pope should be younger and more charismatic, to begin with. He'll need to purge the church of anyone responsible for the predatory priests scandal and cover-up, cooperate fully with the investigation, and then make reforms—and publicize them—so the church's image can begin to be restored. Then it's time for an "intensive strategic review," which the church hasn't done in half a century, to figure out what direction the church will take and how it wants to look in the future. That needs to include modernization, as in tweets that don't sound like "boilerplate composed by a dutiful intern." Finally, it will be time to recruit—right now the church's "work force" is shrinking fast. Click for Keller's full column, or for an alternative idea of who should be the next pope.

Pope Benedict XVI waves to the faithful during the Angelus noon prayer he celebrated from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter's square at the Vatican, Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013.
Pope Benedict XVI waves to the faithful during the Angelus noon prayer he celebrated from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter's square at the Vatican, Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013.   (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
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