Pell: Great Ministry Depends Upon Good Administration

After unjustly spending over 400 days in jail and having plenty of time to reflect and pray, it’s not a surprise that George Cardinal Pell would use one of his first public addresses to speak of priorities. However, no one could have expected him to give the Church at-large clear priorities with such noble simplicity. No doubt, even a century or two from now, Catholics will watch again Cardinal Pell’s recorded address to the Global Institute of Church Management and ask whether or not the hierarchy of the Church over that time period kept their priorities straight. 

No doubt, even a century or two from now, Catholics will watch again Cardinal Pell’s recorded address to the Global Institute of Church Management and ask whether or not the hierarchy of the Church over that time period kept their priorities straight.

In his recorded address to the Global Institute of Church Management, the former Vatican Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy and Archbishop of Sydney rightly reminded the Church to focus Her priorities on the salvation of souls. He said, “I believe that both [reform of the Vatican finances and the salvation of a soul] are important, but the things of the Spirit are more important.” Nevertheless, Cardinal Pell also recognized that accomplishing our top priority of the salvation of souls requires a second, but vastly different priority of good administration of the material goods of the Church: “We believe in the Incarnation. We bring Christ into our communities. We have to use money and methodology to do this.” Put succinctly, great ministry depends upon good administration. 

Great ministry depends upon good administration

The word “administer” comes from the two Latin words ad, which means “to”,and ministrare, which means “to serve or minister”. To administer, then, means to do the needed tasks that are extraneous to our mission, so that the more necessary and higher priority work of ministry might be done more intentionally and at an excellent level. Keeping good books and exercising proper financial transparency at all ecclesiastical levels does not, in and of itself, save souls. However, failure in those administrative realms impedes the ministerial work of the Church. Therefore, to maximize the results of the Church’s divine priority of the salvation of souls, the human members of the Church must administer well Her temporal goods. 

This “both/and” aspect of both great ministry and good administration coincides with Cardinal Pell’s comments regarding the mission of the Global Institute of Church Management. “We believe that grace works through nature. It’s one thing to have a spiritual vision which comes from Christ, and it’s another thing to have a plan or project. To implement those things you need managerial skills, a human capacity which is trained and shaped for good and godly purposes.” Now more than ever, clergy, religious, and lay people need those administrative competencies to be that natural foundation upon which the grace of a “vision which comes from Christ” is built up. Otherwise, the temple built on sand readily disintegrates, resources are wasted, and souls are lost. 

The Global Institute of Church Management provides the administrative formation on the natural level for those who actualize the grace of God working through them toward the fulfillment of the divine mission of the Church. In a force-ranked list our work may hold second place, but it’s subservient and integral link to first, as Cardinal Pell noted, makes it indispensable to the Church’s top priority of saving souls. 

<a href="https://gicm.org/wp-admin/customize.php?url=https%3A%2F%2Fgicm.org%2F">Fr. Anthony Stoeppel</a><br>Chair, Clergy Advisory Board<br>Global Institute of Church Management
Fr. Anthony Stoeppel
Chair, Clergy Advisory Board
Global Institute of Church Management

Fr. Anthony Stoeppel is the Vice-Rector and Assistant Professor of Pastoral Studies at St. Patrick’s Seminary & University in the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Immediately prior he was the Vice-Managing Director and on the faculty of the Program of Church Management. He also served as Vicar General of the Diocese of Tyler, Chairman of the Parish & Mission Assistance Program, President of Bishop Thomas K. Gorman Catholic Schools, and pastor of multi-lingual parishes. Fr. Anthony attended Holy Apostles Seminary in Cromwell, Connecticut, and holds a Doctorate of Sacred Theology from Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome.