Introduction and structure of the week.
Leadership is a word used frequently in many disciplines and it is accurate to say that interest in the study and practices of leadership has grown over the last century or so. No agreement exists on how leadership should be defined or indeed what constitutes good leadership practices, yet it is universally accepted that culture matters when considering leadership as an area for discussion.
In recent decades significant questions around the nature and scope of leadership in the Church have arisen. Reflection around the changing cultural landscape and the many scandal that have blighted Church life have resulted in an emergence of an understanding that leadership within the Church should serve a higher purpose and should be orientated towards helping all to grow and flourish in their humanity.
The International Theological commission’s document entitled Synodality in the Life and Mission of The Church tells us that “A synodal Church is a Church of participation and co-responsibility” and that “In exercising synodality she is called to give expression to the participation of all, according to each one’s calling” (ITC, 67).
Within such a landscape, what matters is not “leadership” in and of itself, but to what extent the process of leadership allows all the People of God to journey together, realizing their final purpose. As we will see in this week’s presentations, the ultimate purpose behind leadership is to build, nurture and develop structures, processes and relationships that are orientated to the Churches primary mission of evangelizing in the world.
For Pope Francis leadership and models of leadership that are servant like are critical if Church culture is to be orientated towards a humbler, more Christlike reality. If synodality is to be realized at all levels of Church, a lens and focus must be placed on Leadership.
Course content this week therefore looks at leadership and governance within the Catholic Church, considering its origins in the life and ministry of Jesus, as articulated in scripture, and discusses what differentiates synodal leadership from other modalities of leadership. The contributions this week also consider Co-responsibility, co-governance accountability and their role is a synodal reality.