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Pope Francis on Leadership


There is no denying the fact that, Pope Francis has become an international cultural icon and role model.  Time dubbed him “Person of the Year” for 2013.  He has been featured as the cover story in America’s “hip” entertainment magazine, Rolling Stone.  The BBC has called him a “superstar”.  International media watchers claim that he is the most photographed and the most admired celebrity in the world.

Why these accolades?  Why this attention?  Frankly, I think the answer is simple.  Pope Francis has an engaging personality, a humble demeanor, and a countercultural leadership style.  Francis has eschewed papal symbols, the cult of personality, and political pomposity.  From day one of his Pontificate, Francis has made it clear that he sees his job as a pastor and servant of others.  For Francis “leadership is not about the leader”.  Like St. Augustine, he believes that the first and final job of leadership is the attempt to serve the needs and well being of the people they lead.

“Authentic power”, says the Pope “is service”.  Beyond doctrine, beyond canonical rules, beyond sacred teachings, “the Church” says Francis “and its Pope must offer service to others.”  Mirroring the words of Nelson Mandela, Francis believes that “what counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived.  Rather, it is what differences we have made in the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead”.

For Francis, the Church, the Pope must not just teach, preach and command.  Rather, says the Pontiff, “today’s world stands in great need of witnesses, not (just) teachers, but rather witnesses.  It’s not so much about speaking, but rather speaking with our whole lives”.

Pope Francis has placed himself at the core of the central problems of our time: wealth and poverty, fairness and justice, transparency, globalization, the role of women, the temptations of power.  The true job of the Church, says Francis, is its commitment to something more than itself.  It should rather be committed to the wants, needs, and aspirations of those that they both lead and serve.

Napoleon once said that “Leadership must offer hope”.  In his demeanor, his smile and his message – Jorge Mario Bergoglio – Pope Francis, offers, all of us, hope!

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