Lay leaders and bishops meet to address pressures on U.S. Church

Catholic lay and religious leaders announced the creation of a new non-profit organization to help the Church in the United States determine and implement best practices at the national, diocesan and parish levels. 

The new Washington-based National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management (NLRCM) will consist of laity, religious and bishops working together to promote excellence and best practices in Church finances, management and human resources.

The NLRCM will be structured using the business roundtable model with members from academic, business and Church organizations across the country.

"Our mission is to facilitate a collaboration among Catholic leaders to promote excellence in the Church's organizational and management capabilities and to help reestablish the relationship of trust between the hierarchy and its parishioners," said Geoffrey T. Boisi, a founding leader.

“Lay people have the duty and the right to offer their gifts and talents in service of the Church,” he said, adding that the new group is “grounded in Church teaching.”

Boisi generated controversy in July 2003 when he invited the leadership of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to a discussion, organized under the theme "The Church in America: The Way Forward in the 21st Century."

The main speakers he invited were Catholic scholars who have dissenting positions toward the teachings of Pope John Paul II. The list included: Fr. Thomas J. Reese, SJ (editor of America Magazine,) Margaret O’Brien Steinfels (Commonweal Magazine,) Peter Steinfels (The New York Times) and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend (Former Lieutenant Governor, State of Maryland.).

The controversy forced the leadership of the USCCB to call for another discussion, this time with theologians and scholars loyal to the teachings of Pope John Paul.

Boisi is also on record for claiming that the Church should be like Wal-Mart in listening to customers and lower level employees.

The NLRCM recently released a report on best practices in Church management. It notes that if the resources of every diocese in the United States were combined, the aggregate would have one million employees, with an operating budget of almost $100 billion, comparable in scope and size to the nation's largest corporations.

“The business and organizational challenges of an institution this size demand that the Church tap into the resources of the laity to identify the best talent, creativity and professional know-how available to help strengthen the Church so that it can better fulfill its mission,” stated the press release.

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