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Economist

Schumpeter: Pope, CEO

March 20, 2013

THE Roman Catholic church is the world?s oldest multinational. It is also, by many measures, its most successful, with 1.2 billion customers, 1m employees, tens of millions of volunteers, a global distribution network, a universally recognised logo, unrivalled lobbying clout and, auguring well for the future, a successful emerging-markets operation.But as the cardinals gather in Rome to elect a new boss the church is in turmoil. The pope has no shortage of crisis-management tools at his disposal, including the doctrine of papal infallibility. But Benedict XVI spent his papacy either provoking unnecessary crises (such as welcoming back Bishop Richard Williamson, a Holocaust downplayer) or struggling with the sex scandals that are racking the church. This is partly because he was the wrong man for the job: a scholar where an administrator was required and an old man?78 when he was appointed, 85 today?where youthful vigour was needed. It is also because the problems tearing the church apart require sweeping structural reform of the sort that only a great leader can deliver.To be fair, Benedict has laid the foundations for just such a reform. His decision to retire...

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