Batuhan: Habemus Papam-A A +A
Friday, March 15, 2013
WHEN companies are in some sort of difficulty, the usual solution is a change of leadership.
Note the companies that were involved.
AIG’s Martin Sullivan was one of the first ones to go, blamed by the world for his role in the collapse of the world’s largest insurance company. Vikram Pandit of Citicorp lasted somewhat longer than Sullivan did, but just the same he failed to outlive the failure that his company suffered during the largest financial crisis the world has ever experienced.
What’s the reason here?
Well, for starters, it is a good PR exercise. Companies are inanimate entities, and cannot be fired for incompetence or negligence. So the only way is to get rid of the people who were running the organization at the time it hit the skids. Getting rid of them sends a message to stakeholders and other interested parties that the company is undoing the mistakes of the past, and charting a new course.
Of course, a new person or a new team is not only good for PR, it is good for strategy too. Quite logically, when a company fails or gets into trouble, it means that the people behind it missed a few things, or did a few things that were not quite right.
So the step of replacing them often corrects this, and gets the organization going on the right foot again.
The Catholic Church, arguably through no fault of the man at the top, was undergoing a crisis of sorts in the last few years.
Perhaps none greater than the clerical scandals in the United States, where even some
dioceses resorted to filing for bankruptcy protection, in order to protect themselves against expensive claims for damages from the victims.
It is perhaps a good thing, though again possibly it was not designed along the lines of the Sullivan and Pandit departures, that the Vatican, too, has undergone a change of leadership at the top. Perhaps Pope Benedict XVI had been unfairly judged as having done not quite enough to crack down on the perpetrators of the scandal, and this has tainted his leadership among the eyes of people, including a good number of Catholics.
So what does the change do for the Church? Quite possibly, a lot.
Plenty is being made of the fact that Pope Francis is from the Southern Hemisphere, a non-European in a part of the world that is considered less developed than the West.
But possibly more groundbreaking is the fact that he is a Jesuit, as the order is known for values and a spirituality that transcends borders of geography and nationality.
For certain, he will focus on the less privileged among the faithful. He will also spend more time managing the Vatican organization, which—as some quarters have alleged—has become somewhat dysfunctional. No other training equips him for this job than the one he has had with his order.
And yet, despite the change in leadership in failed institutions, there are things that most new leaders dare not touch. Values, mission, and culture come to mind. The core product or service too has to remain intact. An AIG customer, whether it is Martin Sullivan or Bob Benmosche at the helm – only cares about his life insurance or commercial insurance policy. Whoever is at the top matters little for him. And AIG itself cannot depart too much from its identity, or it will forget those things that made it a great institution.
This is the same with the Church. Even with Pope Francis, it will still be living the values that Christ bequeathed to it before he ascended into heaven. So those who are hoping that “modern” reforms like same-sex marriage, women’s ordination, priestly celibacy, etc. will soon be among us better think again.
Will AIG now go into the hotel business without Sullivan? Will Citigroup begin selling hamburgers without Pandit? Highly unlikely. So why should the Catholic Church be any different?
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 16, 2013.