The Leadership Roundtable and the Papal Election

FrancisThe Leadership Roundtable welcomes Pope Francis

Kerry Robinson, executive director of the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management, joined Catholics across the world in welcoming Pope Francis:

"Service, humility, advocacy for the poor, mercy, prayerfulness, simplicity and grace: these are among the immediately evident characteristics of the new leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis.

"The National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management celebrates the election of Pope Francis and joins the faithful throughout the world in prayer for blessings upon his leadership. We look forward to supporting him as he assumes the profound spiritual and managerial responsibilities of his pontificate."

Articles featuring the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management

In the days leading up to the conclave, the Leadership Roundtable was a source for many journalists and media organizations as they explored how the next pope might handle the managerial challenges he would inherit. In addition to the articles below that quote Leadership Roundtable staff, we provided background to many other news outlets, including the New York Times, USA Today, the BBC, and CNBC.

If The Catholic Church Were A Business, How Would You Fix It?
All Things Considered
March 6, 2013

Because each diocese makes most of its own business decisions, "the church is missing out on purchasing power, procurement, economy of scale," says Kerry Robinson, director of the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management.

If all the Catholic dioceses and schools and hospitals in the U.S. got together to negotiate bulk prices for the things they needed — just ordinary stuff like office products and transportation — the church could save billions of dollars a year, Robinson says.

Pondering a pope and the gender divide
The Boston Globe
March 10, 2013

Kerry Robinson, executive director of the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management, agrees. She is among a half-dozen women whose families are associated with US Catholic philanthropic foundations who traveled to Rome three times during the last few years to speak with Vatican officials about the absence of women in positions of authority.

They met with about 20 cardinals, all in top Vatican posts, expressing their devotion to the church and their concern that the absence of women in major church leadership positions would alienate young Catholic women — and, over time, their children — from the church.
“They really heard this message, but there was no sense of what to do about it,” she said.

Robinson and her colleagues suggested reviewing what percentage of major leadership roles in the Vatican and its advisory councils are held by women and then focusing on appointing women to more of those positions. They also proposed appointing women to high-visibility jobs in the Vatican diplomatic corps or press operation. Robinson described the meetings as “cordial, warm, and engaging,” and said cardinals expressed “genuine interest and desire to respond to this.”

Wanted by American nuns: A pope who listens to and appreciates female leadership
The Washington Post
February 14, 2013

“For the church to thrive, we must take seriously the role of women and create opportunities to elevate women to positions of meaningful leadership in the church, even in the Roman Curia,” says Kerry Robinson, executive director of the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management. “Pope Benedict XVI’s successor would do well to recognize that the church is impoverished when we do not avail ourselves of the full gifts and talents of women.”

Pope will need vision, leadership to turn around church, management experts say
Chicago Sun TImes
March 13, 2013

Michael Brough, director of engagement at the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management, a group of Catholic laypeople, priests and bishops who promote best practices in the church, said the new Pope could surround himself with experts to improve the church’s financial management.

From the congregational level all the way to the Vatican, the church could leverage its size to save money in buying goods and services; issue easy-to-read annual reports about finances, and improve communication to ensure laity have confidence in the “Good News” story as well as the caretaking of their donations, Brough said.

“If an institution has good financial controls, transparency and accountability, a lot of financial areas can be improved,” Brough said.

One area that needs such scrutiny is the Catholic school system, he said.

“A good leader would recognize that schools are facing challenges,” Brough said. “How can we provide a financially sustainable model so schools can continue to be there for the families who need them?”

Articles highlighting the call for managerial excellence

Many Catholic leaders, including Cardinals, spoke to the need for the new pope to be an excellent manager and administrator. Below is a sampling of those articles. This is hardly a complete list. If you know of other related articles, email them to And remember, the views expressed in these articles do not necessarily reflect those of the Leadership Roundtable, our trustees, members, or staff.

A Simple Ritual for Harried Managers (and Popes)
Harvard Business Review
March 19, 2013

Challenges to vision of a 'Poor Church for the Poor'
National Catholic Reporter
March 19, 2013

What A CEO Can Teach A Pope
March 19, 2013

Pope Francis has a long to-do list, and it starts with the Curia
Religion News Service
March 14, 2013

The First American Pope
National Review Online
March 14, 2013

Curia reform a top issue for Pope Francis
The Globe and Mail
March 14, 2013

Who could be Pope 'CEO'?
USA Today
March 12, 2013

Governance a top issue in 2013 conclave
National Catholic Reporter
March 11, 2013

Viewpoint: The pope as CEO
March 10, 2013

Management tips for the Catholic church
The Economist
March 9, 2013

Strong policies on abusive priests vital, O’Malley says
Boston Globe
March 6, 2013

Help Wanted: Pope
National Catholic Reporter
March 4, 2013

Reform dominates the agenda
The Tablet
March 2, 2013

Smoke Signals From the Vatican: Picking Popes and CEOs
Business Week
February 21, 2013