The Micro-managers


Rebuilding community. Once there was an ideal of nation building from within. With local people. Main Street businesses had been replaced by Wal-Mart. Best Buy. Starbucks. And that world was collasping. No one was buying stocks. And 50% of asset-backed corporate bonds were at risk. Big banks, big institutions were on the ropes. All those MBAs, teaching about micro managing.

In a sense, the Church of Rome seemed for a generation dominated by the bean counting. I think a lot of nations doth protest the micro-managing. Maybe that was why the Russian Orthodox have never wanted a part of the Vatican. Their fears of a spy network. Their fears that the bishops were not home grown. Fears of foreign control. There just was distrust of the stranger in Russia. And in China. There always had been in China. And a little less in Russia. Maybe due to the ice and cold.

In a sense there has been a religious fascism. There was some kind of an authoritarian ideology born during a period of social and political unrest, of the modern age. It was true in the world of politics and religions. Fascism is focused on solving the economic, political, and social problems which its supporters see as causing a decline or decadence. It was not just of the nationalistic kind. Fascists aim to create a single-party state, perhaps because the human condition is idealistically seeking a oneness with God and each other.

In the Catholic Church there has always been a religion led by …well, a dictator …. who seeks unity by requiring individuals to subordinate self-interest to the collective interest of the whole. Maybe the originators of the concept had used the religious model, with hopes of having some governmental success. Ideally, the Catholic Church was a single entity, undivided, led by the pope.

Luigi Barzini in his 1964 classic, The Italians, attempted to engage in an act of translation, so that the traveler can understand what the other party is trying to say. There is a certain sociology to Vatican City that long was dominated by Italian men. Vatican sociology was long based on loyalty and “connections.”

Archbishop Jean Jadot died at his residence in Belgium on January 21, 2009. He had served under Pope Paul VI as the apostolic delegate to the United States from 1973 to 1980, and has been called the architect of the U.S. “pastoral church.” He was responsible for the appointments of 103 new bishops and the assignments of 15 archbishops. I knew a few of his appointments along the way. Paul Dudley when he was a priest. John R. Roach when he was a monsignor. I shared a college campus with Francis George when he was a priest, before he was an archbishop. And I met a few priests whose episcopate soon developed by the time after Archbishop Jardot was called back to Europe. It is not an easy job being the apostolic delegate to a nation like the United States.

In the world torn in the strife between liberal and conservative constituencies, in politics, in religion, a man can be worn out. A man can create enemies.

Since 1984, Jadot had been in active retirement in Brussels. With the election of John Paul II, sentiment at the Vatican changed significantly and John Paul II happily accepted the resignation offered of a physically worn-out Jadot in 1980. Jadot was called to Rome, where he worked as pro-president of the Vatican Secretariat for Non-Christians for four years in obvious papal disfavor. Unlike his predecessors and his successor as apostolic delegate, Jadot was never named cardinal. John Dick was with Jadot on the day the announcement that Pio Laghi, his successor as apostolic delegate, was elevated from archbishop to cardinal in 1991. “Well,” Jadot said, “I had to be with my American friends today. It is not important to be a cardinal. What bothers me is that I know this is not about being a cardinal. It is a slap in my face.”

I believe there has been a loss of community over the last 20 years, because of the influence of the Pontifical Gregorian University. The bean counting. Who was liberal. Who was conservative. All of the bishops and archbishops these days seem to have spent some time at Gregorian University, in a Rome where the sociology was based upon loyalty and “connections.”

“Mentre baccio la Vostra pantofola sacra.” Was it why when John R. Roach retired we got an archbishop in Minnesota from elsewhere? Was there more loyalty to people who had come out of Gregorian University, where they had learned some new MBA method of bean counting which seemed to be needed. Dispense another graduate from the Pontifical Gregorian University, whereas Archbishop Roach was home-grown in Prior Lake. Minnesota. Paul Dudley was from Northfield. Minnesota.

With a break from the Minnesota connection, there was a breakdown in community. People with no local relationship. Bishops starting out as missionaries. Where the locals had to worry about their perspective on what was shared belief. All the archbishops were now from elsewhere. Combined with the previous pope, without any collegiality fostered with the bishops, the method of administration all seemed like that under a colonial system of bean-counting.

What about the thinking? There could be no priest shortage in a part of the world where the church was dying? There would be no need for priests when the people quit practicing? When everyone came out of one school, a staleness was bound to set in.

The mismanagement of the sexual abuse was just a spotlight over what the business world was going though. Holy men forced to deal with temporal matters, with no grasp of the law. Coming off as having an excessive rigidity, a firmness, with an old man’s obstinacy.

Thus the micro managers. A church run too much like Best Buy. Wal-Mart. Starbucks. Working under the neglect of an administrator’s duties. Yes that pope from Poland, no matter how holy, had a few flaws.

Of business. And of churches. All those MBAs. Main Street businesses had been replaced by management far away. Newspapers owned by people far away. With growing distrust by the locals of authentic care, how could any leader require individuals to subordinate self-interest to the collective interest of the whole?

In the age of Self-funded Retirement Accounts. Alone, in old age and in bad times, with the snake oil salesmen. The sense of time — a sense had always been worn on people’s faces — best was asked to those who lived though the Great Depression and the great wars. In a world where government pensions were replaced by private ones, until the markers, those industrial indexes, collapsed. And vulnerable people never got to retire.

With the micro-managing on Wall Street, the world would re-discover that all politics was local. Monarch had fallen in most nations in what seems distant time, where something was built within. After all of the buy-backs of globalization, we are watching this year a few giants fall, like distant monarchs.

Dwindling populations. What was what was supposed to happen in those kinds of economies is that people never got to retire? In the then downward spirals? What happened to borders, in the Western world, rebuilding retirement accounts as visas in old age. When will the bad times all end?

Those individual retirement accounts in a world collasping. As generational divide became the issue. And with political issues, salvation was never supposed to be about who was liberal or who was conservative. It was all supposed to be about being human– a perspective always lost from high above, in the ivy towers. In Washington. In Rome.

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