Friday, January 17, 2014

THE VATICAN AND CURIA THAT POPE FRANCIS INHERITED: A BROKEN, DYSFUNCTIONAL ONE


Let's face it, the administration of the Vatican and probably a large percentage of dioceses today is broken and not well managed. After Vatican II bureaucracies in both the Vatican and local dioceses around the world multiplied with more and more workers hired in the administration of dioceses. New directors were hired and they needed administrative help and so even more paid personnel are added to the bloated staffs. And one wonders what they do all day long in their offices???? Is the mission of the Church promoted with all the new positions and the increase of budgets to pay these people? That is highly questionable since most of the work of the Church is on the parochial level in parishes, which also have seen large increases in budgets to pay more personnel.

To say that the Vatican bureaucracy is bloated and dysfunctional would be an understatement. And fortunately Pope Francis knows this and is working mightily hard to correct it. This has caused alarm amongst those with cushy jobs in the Vatican whose turf might be pulled out from underneath them as they sit in their offices doing God only knows what. This is a good thing!

While Blessed Pope John Paul II was alive and at the zenith of his papal ministry and popularity, there were many in the Church who recognized that he wasn't a good administrator. Many of the problems in the Vatican go back to Blessed Pope John Paul's time.

Then Cardinal Ratzinger, more of a bookworm than an administrator, more of a scholar calling the Church to orthodoxy in teaching and liturgical practice continued to pursue his academic agendas liturgically and otherwise. He wrote several books and produced a number of writings after being elected pope. But he relied, it seems, completely on others to run the Vatican and evidently the ones he chose to do so, his closest associates were incompetent and too very Italian in their disorganization and back-fighting. So much of the passion and suffering of Pope Benedict can be traced to this incompetence that eventually led him to resign and many believe dejected by those who betrayed him by creating such a mess in the Vatican that even his butler could steal important documents from the Holy Father's desk and leak them to the press--what a humiliation for Pope Benedict. But one must say that Pope Benedict was too trusting of those who lacked the skills to manage the affairs of the Vatican.

Sandro Magister has a bit of a snarky article on his blog Chiesa in the sense that he seems to be both complimenting Pope Francis for trying to get the Vatican administration into order and also criticizing the austere Pope Francis who is spending mega bucks on consulting firms to do it. I would suggest that the consulting firms, as long as this is temporary expenditures, might well be the best way for this highly dysfunctional administration to be whipped into shape and more fiscally responsible.

Here is Magister's article. You can see how dysfunctional the Vatican has become and the waste of money in keeping all the dysfunction going. Spending more to ultimately streamline the administration is more than likely the only way to go, by bringing in outsiders for their advice and expertise, but of course, as I already wrote, only temporarily.

The Curia of Francis, Paradise of the Multinationals

McKinsey, Promontory, Ernst & Young, KPMG. From the Vatican the race is on to sign up the most prestigious and expensive consulting companies in the world. At what price is not known

by Sandro Magister


ROME, January 17, 2014 – It may be "poor and for the poor," the Church dreamed of by Pope Francis. Meanwhile, however, the Vatican is becoming the cash cow of the most exclusive and expensive firms in the world of management and financial systems.

The latest one signed up is the legendary McKinsey & Company, with the task of coming up with "an integrated plan for making the organization of the Holy See's means of communication more functional, effective, and modern." Enough to sow panic in the ranks, which at the Vatican recently have not diminished but expanded, in a crescendo of confusion.

To Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the press office and the official spokesman, has been added a "senior communications adviser" in the person of the American journalist Greg Burke, a member of Opus Dei, with an office in the secretariat of state.(My comment: He was brought in under Pope Benedict, not Pope Francis.)

Not to mention the two press agents that the president of the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), Ernst von Freyberg, brought to Rome last spring from his native Germany, Max Hohenberg and Markus Wieser, both of Communications & Network Consulting.

Then there is Vatican Radio, directed by Lombardi, with a 30 million dollar annual budget and with as many journalists as it once took to broadcast on shortwave in the most obscure languages and to the most remote regions of the globe, but now excessive in number.

There is "L'Osservatore Romano," another money pit with the few thousand daily copies of its main edition.

There is the Centro Televisivo Vaticano, which has good revenues thanks to its exclusive worldwide rights to the images of the pope but must face prohibitive expenses with Sony and other major firms for technology updates.

And then there is the pontifical council for social communications, a bureaucratic rattletrap that should have done the work now entrusted to McKinsey but evidently was not thought capable of it.

In this disorder it has been clear for some time that Pope Francis prefers to follow his own lights. Of the three interviews of his that have made the biggest splash, he gave two of them to the Jesuits of "La Civiltà Cattolica" and one to the ultra-secularist founder of "la Repubblica," without Fr. Lombardi or Burke or anyone else having anything to do with it.

Another big name recruited by the Vatican is Promontory Financial Group, based in Washington. Since May, a dozen of its analysts have been set up in the offices of the IOR sifting through the accounts of the institute one by one, hunting for illicit operations. And they are doing the same with the accounts of the APSA, the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See.

Not only that. Top-level managers of Promontory have become part of the permanent leadership of the IOR. One former Promontory officer is Rodolfo Marranci, the new director general of the Vatican “bank.” And the senior advisers of the IOR include Elizabeth McCaul and Raffaele Cosimo, who at Promontory were respectively the heads of the New York and European branches. Also coming from across the Atlantic is Antonio Montaresi, called in to manage the risk office, a role that did not exist at the IOR before.

A similar multiplication of roles and personnel at the Vatican also concerns the Financial Information Authority, created at the end of 2010 by Benedict XVI, today directed by the Swiss René Brülhart, an expensive international star in this area who will soon be doubling his staff.

The balance sheets of the IOR are certified by Ernst & Young, to which the Vatican has also entrusted the verification and modernization of the finance and management practices of the governorate of the tiny state.

And another renowned multinational, KPMG, has been called to bring up to international standards the accounting practices of all the institutes and offices based in Vatican City.

In spite of the boasts of transparency, no information is coming out about the costs of this recourse to external contractors, costs that are presumed to be enormous, particularly those charged to the IOR.

As if this were not enough, the Vatican “bank” has had to spend 3.6 million euro to cover part of the debt of 28.3 million, calculated by Ernst & Young, for the world youth day in Rio de Janeiro.

And it has had to use roughly ten million euro to cover half of the chasm left in the diocese of Terni by its former bishop Vincenzo Paglia, the current president of the pontifical council for the family.

4 comments:

John Nolan said...

The trouble with bureaucracies is that attempts to reform them usually leave them more bloated than before. This is a function of Parkinson's Law. The important Roman dicasteries don't have huge staffs, but once you start saying "let's involve more lay people, let's have more women", then you get more and more on the payroll. Is there evidence that Mueller's CDF, Burke's Signatura, Ouellet's Congregation for Bishops or Canizares's CDWDS are dysfunctional?

National Episcopal Conferences have a plethora of lay-led and liberal-dominated centralized agencies which frequently usurp the role of the diocesan bishop, and this can be replicated in the dioceses themselves. The Bishop of Portsmouth (England), Philip Egan, inherited from his liberal predecessor a bloated and ruinously expensive lay-led curia and proceeded to take an axe to it (cue howls of anguish from liberal place-holders). A similar thing happened in Shrewsbury.

Benedict XVI as Cardinal Ratzinger ran the most important Vatican dicastery for nearly a quarter of a century and was a very able administrator. In his last four years in the role he also had to deal with the fall-out from the clerical abuse scandals; he read all the files and took prompt action (although the damage had already been done years before and he got little credit for his efforts).

rcg said...

The problem with consultants is that they will tell you what their ideal of the situation is, not how to implement it.

Gene said...

I had an old tomcat who used to go out and fight all night. He'd whip every cat in the neighborhood and keep everyone up in the process. So, I had him fixed. He still goes out every night, but now he is a consultant...

Henry said...

One need not be clairvoyant as Fr. McDonald is to foresee the inevitable result of all this efficiency consulting -- an expanded and still more bloated Vatican bureaucracy.

I recall the days the whole state of Tennessee constituted the single Diocese of Nashville, since split into 3 separate dioceses, each with a chancery bureaucracy of impressive size.

The previous Diocese of Nashville was run--and apparently run well, everything carefully managed and under control--by the bishop and a total chancery staff of two: his personal secretary and a priest who kept the financial books and diocesan records.