"'I want to tell you something. What is it that I expect as a consequence of World Youth Day? I want a mess. We knew that in Rio there would be great disorder, but I want trouble in the dioceses!' he said, speaking off the cuff in his native Spanish. 'I want to see the church get closer to the people. I want to get rid of clericalism, the mundane, this closing ourselves off within ourselves, in our parishes, schools or structures. Because these need to get out!"
Clearly, the orderly exercise of power is not his top value. "Philosophers say that peace is a certain ordered tranquility: everything is tidy and quiet ... That is not the Christian peace! Christian peace is an uneasy peace, not a quiet peace: it is an uneasy peace, which goes on to carry this message of reconciliation. The Christian Peace pushes us to move forward.... What the Lord wants from us is to announce this reconciliation, which is his own core message."
He knows a lively faith is fed by relationships and community: "If we ask ourselves, 'Where can we meet God? Where can we enter into communion with Him through Christ? Where can we find the light of the Holy Spirit to enlighten our lives?' the answer is, 'In the People of God, among us, for we are Church -- there we shall meet Jesus, we shall meet the Holy Spirit, we shall meet the Father."
When he says the word "church," he is not focusing on authority: "Christ is the center, not the successor of Peter." His hierarchy is not about "hierarchs."
His roots show. He repeats Jesus' words: "Do not speak ill of one another. Do not denigrate one another. Do not belittle one another." "How can we love our enemies? Jesus says we must do this! Because otherwise you will be ... not Christians."
What other leader, after less than 4 months in office, is known world-wide as an apostle of solidarity with the poor? "No one can remain insensitive to the inequalities that persist in the world.... I would like to make an appeal to those in possession of greater resources, to public authorities and to all people of good will who are working for social justice: never tire of working for a more just world, marked by greater solidarity." "People in tough situations...They must come into my heart, they must be a [cause of] restlessness for me: my brother is suffering, my sister suffers."
Solidarity is his hope not only for the world, but for the church itself: "How I would like a church that is poor and for the poor."
He has already named three groups to advise him on reform, focusing on the Curia; the Vatican Bank; and the administration and finances of the Vatican city-state. “In the Christian life, even in the life of the Church, there are old structures, passing structures: it is necessary to renew them! And the Church has always been attentive to this, with dialogue with cultures . . . It always allows itself to be renewed according to places, times, and persons.... Don’t be afraid of that! Don’t be afraid of the newness of the Gospel! Don’t be afraid of the newness that the Holy Spirit works in us! Don’t be afraid of the renewal of structures!”
He urges us to open doors instead of upholding administrative rules: "Think about a single mother who goes to church, in the parish and to the secretary she says: 'I want my child baptized.' And then this Christian, this Christian says: 'No, you cannot because you’re not married!' But look, this girl who had the courage to carry her pregnancy and not to return her son to the sender, what is it? A closed door! This is not zeal! It is far from the Lord! It does not open doors!"
Open doors let the unexpected enter. "Are we open to 'God’s surprises'? Or are we closed and fearful before the newness of the Holy Spirit? Do we have the courage to strike out along the new paths which God’s newness sets before us?... One of Fathers of the Church has an expression which I love: the Holy Spirit himself is harmony – 'Ipse harmonia est'. He is indeed harmony. Only the Spirit can awaken diversity, plurality and multiplicity, while at the same time building unity.... let us ask ourselves: Am I open to the harmony of the Holy Spirit, overcoming every form of exclusivity? Do I let myself be guided by him, living in the Church and with the Church?"
This is a coherent and extraordinarily vital (life-giving!) model of leadership. Clear vision. Personal charisma. Ancient roots. Modern awareness. Both personal and systemic interventions. Vivid, engaging communications that draw everyone toward the vision -- not only members of the organization, but also stakeholders and outsiders, the public as a whole. Education about core values and renewed expectations, available to everyone daily through Vatican Radio reports on informal, obviously authentic homilies. A radical redefinition of "resources" that aims to reform the financial wealth of the church while celebrating the spiritual and communal riches of the People of God.
Does all of that sound a bit like John Kotter on Leading Change?
Pope Francis "wants a mess." Does that sound a bit like William Bridges on Transitions?
In inviting that "mess," Pope Francis specifically asks young people to turn their energies toward transformation of structures and proclamation of Jesus. Does this sound a bit like remarkably well-targeted marketing to retain and develop future leaders?
Pope Francis is undoubtedly genuine in his presence and in his actions. But maybe he also understands that he himself, his warmth and humor and down-to-earth style, is an instrument in God's hands. Of course that sounds like Francis of Assisi... but does it also sound a bit like Peter Senge on Presence?
I admit, I'm enthralled by his brilliance as a leader (much like what I feel about LCWR). And I'm hopeful that his leadership points toward the universal call to holiness and the unfolding fullness of the presence of God.