Monday, April 07, 2008

An open Letter to Dr Matthew Del Nevo of the Broken Bay Institute

Thanks to Church Resources, I received today a copy of Dr Matthew Del Nevo's ruminations on the matter of leadership in the Church. I don't know Matthew from a bar of soap, but his general instinct appears to be good, although some of his thoughts might lead off in the wrong direction. So I have written to him about his article. Here is the letter I wrote.

Dear Dr Matthew,

I read with interest your short article in the Mission and Spirituality News about leadership.

I agree with you that the church in Australia is in a period of "de-evangelisation"--quite catastrophically so.

You speak of the "objectification" of leadership, and the need for a more spirit-led notion of leadership.

I presume you are quite aware of the distinction between charismatic and institutional leadership. The historical fact is that the Church has always had both, valued both, and required both. They should not be seen in tension. In the new Testament there were both the "apostle" and the "prophet". In the Old Testament the two types of leadership can be seen in the "judge" and the "king". The institutional leadership needs the charismatic leadership for life and energy, and the charismatic leadership must also be loyal to the institutional leadership.

I believe that today the Catholic Church has a notion of "charismatic" leadership in the terminology of "apostolate". Non-institutional/non-"office" leaders can answer their vocation and their apostolate without the need for the institutional leadership to do anything but "allow" it to happen, and only curb it when such "leadership" is being exercised against the well-being of the Church and her faith. In the same way, Charismatic leaders are authentic "Spirit-led" leaders when they lead in accordance with the Church and her faith.

I believe that to a large degree we are already seeing this happen.

God bless your research.

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