BC offers church management degree

BC offers church management degree

It looks like Boston College is responding to the need for professional management in diocesan and parish offices because it is now offering a church management degree program. Now this could be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it could give beleaguered pastors—trained in pastoral ministry, not business administration—much needed assistance in how to run complex financial and administrative structures like the modern parish. It could also provide a pool of qualified lay people to assist the pastor by taking care of administrative and financial matters, freeing him up to concentrate on pastoral matters. There’s no doubt that with all the governmental and ecclesiastical regulations and bureaucracy foisted onto parishes these days, more training is needed.

On the other hand, some people could use such a degree program to advance the notion of priestless parishes, reducing pastors to mere sacramental technicians and undermining the pastoral theology of the Church. (Diogenes reviews earlier predictions of how the priestless parish phenomenon could become the shape of a schism yet to come.) Of course, when I see which BC profs are involved in the program, my hope wanes somewhat.

Meanwhile, I doubt the program will mollify critics who have questioned the strength of BC’s Catholic identity. Catholic identity is found in devotion and worship, an adherence to orthodoxy and the will of God as handed on by His Church. Training managers for the Church doesn’t boost your Catholic cred.

Ex corde ecclesia: a failure

I’m also amused somewhat by the Globe‘s characterization of the implementation of the requirements of Ex corde ecclesia as having “failed.”

Just a few years ago, BC was defending its academic freedom against an ultimately failed national effort by the church to more tightly monitor the teachings of Catholic theologians; now the college is in a stronger financial position and arguably enjoys greater credibility than the archdiocese.

That’s an unusual amount of candor, especially by showing it as a battle between the authority of the bishop and the independence of the school. I’m sure that neither the cardinal nor the Jesuits would prefer to see it stated that way. But in the end, if so many Catholic theologians around the country have refused to request the mandatum from their bishop and the bishops have neglected to demand it of them can we say it is anything other than a failure?

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