Schadenfreude and Reform of the Roman Curia

Years ago in the hall of the Palazzo del Sant’Uffizio I ran into the then-Prefect Cardinal Ratzinger, who was always happy to chat and let me pick his brains.

On one occasion, he quipped that he was glad that Peter stopped in Rome and did not go north to Germany.  “Imagine”, he said, “were the Vatican in Germany, the efficiency with which we could be making our mistakes”.

Today I read at the site of Sandro Magister something that amused me greatly:

Thomas von Mitschke-Collande's book in German - Kindle - $9.99

ROME, June 13, 2013 – All that was lacking was a guru from McKinsey to design that reform of the curia which everyone expects from Pope Francis. And here he comes.

His name is Thomas von Mitschke-Collande, he is German and was the manager of the Munich branch of the most famous and mysterious company of managerial consulting in the world.

In matters of the Church, he knows his stuff. Last year he published a book with a title that was hardly reassuring: “Does the Church want to destroy itself? Facts and analyses presented by a business consultant.” The diocese of Berlin turned to him to get its accounts back in order, and the German episcopal conference asked him to draw up a plan to save on costs and personnel.


Is this Schadenfreude I am feeling?

Imagine: German managerial experts applying their tools in the still predominately Italian Roman Curia!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Anchorite says:

    Your stories of chatting with then Card. Ratzinger show what an amazing man he always was.
    Vatican needs more men like him: bright, smart, humorous, faithful and humble.

  2. Luciano says:

    Aham. Every time that I heard the word “McKinsey”, the word “Enron” comes to my mind!

  3. Mariana2 says:

    Love Pope Benedict!

    “….he was glad that Peter stopped in Rome and did not go north to Germany. ”Imagine”, he said, “were the Vatican in Germany, the efficiency with which we could be making our mistakes”.”

    That’s still nothing compared to even further North, where I am. Here people believe in all authorities and when the Mail some years ago (quite illegally) threatened not to distribute post to buildings without lifts, a few blocks of flats near where we then lived promptly installed postboxes at ground level! Useful idiot-ry! Oy vey!

  4. Capt. Morgan says:

    Great. A little more Rhine heads for the Tiber. With ethnic apologies to those of German ancestry, I think the Rhinelanders have done enough damage for now.

  5. anna 6 says:

    An Italian saying:
    Germans love the Italians, but they don’t respect them…
    and Italians respect the Germans, but they don’t love them.

    This could get interesting.

  6. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    What Anchorite said.

  7. acardnal says:

    I wonder if the Italian curia will be able to keep their siesta hours after the German reforms?

  8. MarrakeshEspresso says:

    Nein, acardnal. Not on your pumpernickel.

  9. Phil_NL says:

    What is “About time.” in German again?

  10. VexillaRegis says:

    Dear Phil_NL: The answer to your rhetorical question: Es ist an der Zeit.
    A musical answer from Bach follows below.

    (Instrumental Chorale:
    Es ist gewisslich an der Zeit,
    daß Gottes Sohn wird kommen
    [in seiner großen Herrlichkeit,
    zu richten Bös’ und Frommen.]
    Dann wird das Lachen werden theur,
    Wann Alles soll vergehn im Feu’r,
    Wie Petrus davon zeuget.)

    (Instrumental Chorale:
    Indeed the time is here
    when God’s Son will come
    [in His great glory
    to judge the wicked and the righteous.]
    Then laughter will be rare,
    when everything goes up in flames,
    as Peter bore witness

  11. spesalvi23 says:

    I’m a good mix of Prussian/Franconian – not a Rheinländer!! Ethnical diversion is quite big in Germany.
    I work with Italians every day (industrial matters).
    I love them to death, because they’re not calculating, pro active efficiency monsters.
    However, many times, I could choke them to death, because they’re so inefficient and panic during the slightest problematic situation; taking responsibility seems rather difficult;
    crisis management skills seem completely missing.
    I don’t know how many times I feel like dealing with a bunch of headless chicken.
    But! I do love them and respect them!
    I know that the love is mutual, even though many times they roll their eyes at my stern, bossy, short-conversation style and my endless process optimizing attempts.
    This relationship grew over years of open minded, respectful dialogue.
    Good luck to Mr. Super Manager.
    Applying streamed lined management skills to Church matters makes me cringe.
    Preprogrammed crash and burn.

  12. Jack Hughes says:

    I am reminded of the Blackadder Episode “Chains” ……

    I think that our Italian brothers could do with a bit of monomaniacal German efficiency, instilling the Fear of the Pope into the curia could work wonders for dealing with errant Clergy and Religious, I would however suggest that we add in a Spaniard or two (preferably a Carmelite Nun or two) for added zealotry.

  13. JMody says:

    People need to remember 2 of my favorite jokes. First was Belloc’s line about how we KNOW the Church is divinely protected — it is run with such knavish incompetence that if it were NOT divinely protected, it would be out of business in two weeks.

    And second was the difference between European heaven and hell: In heaven, the police are British, the cooks are Italian, and the mechanics are German, while in hell, the cooks are British, the police are German, and the mechanics are Italian … a few others were in there as well, but those three stick.

  14. Pingback: Kurienreform durch “loyalen Ungehorsam” à la McKinsey, ZdK und Luther? | einfach entfachend

  15. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Phil,

    “wurde ja langsam mal Zeit”. The High-German equivalent of the Bavarian saying for the same thing is “Zeit ist es geworden”.

  16. Imrahil says:

    Dear @acardnal, be assured… while the Germans will forbid the Siesta and have the Italians work in hours where work can hardly be efficient in Italy… they’ll all get a closing time of exactly five o’clock. Start at eight, end at five, one hour lunch-break.

    That said, before you all go crazy about German efficiency (thanks for the flowers!), let’s remind that the important part that we’re talking about administration. We’re talking, let’s face it, about bureaucrats. We’re talking about that of which the most prominent example is the state-official.

    Stefan: My father is a race driver. I don’t bet any one of you guys has a father faster than me?
    Alexander: Oh yes I do. My father is a Luftwaffe fighter pilot.
    Fritz: Oh come on. That’s nothing. My father’s a state-official.
    A&S: Huh?
    Frist: On Friday, he’s got off-duty at five and is home at two.

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