Download a PDF of the Pre-Reading and Recommendations

The Catholic Partnership Summit creates a space for Catholic leaders to address the most pressing Church leadership and management challenges and opportunities. 

For each of the four sessions of the 2021 Catholic Partnership Summit, you will find here a description of the session, resources for pre-reading, reflection questions, along with recommendations for action.

These recommendations represent a sample of the best practices available to our Church. We offer them to aid the discussion during the Summit, as well as in your local faith communities.

Participants will be invited to lift up actionable recommendations that will support building a Church for the future. Leadership Roundtable will gather the top recommendations into a report that will be shared with the wider Church to advance the national conversation.

Guiding Principles

Leadership Roundtable developed the following guiding principles for any recommendations that are considered. These recommendations should:

  1. Impact the Catholic Church based on three principles: accountability, transparency, and co-responsibility
  2. Shape the leadership and management culture of the Church, in line with Catholic beliefs, ecclesiology, and canon law
  3. Restore trust in the Church based on measurable, visible outcomes
  4. Engage both ordained and lay Catholics, working together for the mission
  5. Lean forward into new possibilities
  6. Be realistic and able to be translated into practical strategy and implementation.

SESSION 1

Healing and Strengthening our Catholic Community in the U.S

The past year has brought many challenges to the Church and its leaders. In this session, we will look at the effects of the pandemic, the specific challenges we face as a Church, and what they are teaching us. We will assess our current situation and build upon what we have experienced these last 18 months. Most importantly, we will discuss how we heal and strengthen our Catholic community, how we restore and rebuild trust, and what is needed to do so.

Resources

Encyclical Letter, Fratelli Tutti, October 2020

Pope Francis calls for greater fraternity, social friendship, and solidarity in the face of contemporary social and economic problems.

Let us Dream: The Path to a Better Future, 2020

Pope Francis, with Austin Ivereigh, offer a practical blueprint for emerging from the pandemic better than before.

Address of the Nuncio to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, June 2021

Archbishop Christophe Pierre describes a Church that responds to the true needs of people.

Address of the President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, June 2021

Archbishop José Gomez addresses the challenges and opportunities facing the Church and the necessity of unity not only among people, but also unity within the Church.

What will Catholic Community look like after COVID? Our Sunday Visitor, March 2021

Brian Fraga interviews theologians, priests, and bishops on post-pandemic parish life.

Interview with the Author of The Pope and the Pandemic: Lesson in Leadership in a Time of Crisis

Fr. Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator, SJ summarizes leadership lessons from Pope Francis.

"Civilize It: A Better Kind of Politics"

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) website and resources to help address the destructive polarization that is affecting the Church and society

Scriptural Models of Catholic Leadership and Management, 2020

Leadership and management models emphasizing servant leadership for Catholic leaders today.

Leadership Roundtable’s Restoring Trust

A 10-point action plan for restoring trust in the face of the twin crises of abuse and leadership failures.

“What Does a Thriving Church Look Like?”

Excerpt from 2020 Catholic Partnership Summit report, envisioning a new culture of leadership for the future of the Church.

Leadership Roundtable’s Catholic Partnership Summit Report, “Heal the Body of Christ, 2019

A plan to create a new culture of leadership and a new response to abuse in the Catholic Church.

Reflection Question

What new opportunities are emerging from the pandemic that can be utilized in dioceses, parishes, and ministries? And what support and resources do Church leaders need to help emerge from the pandemic?

Recommendations

The following recommendations are drawn from the above resources:

  • Create more opportunities for people to experience connection within your parish or in your ministry by committing to prioritize and reimagine welcome, hospitality, and pastoral care.
  • Promote resilience and wellbeing among clergy and lay ecclesial ministers by providing access to physical, mental, and spiritual wellness programs. 
  • Create spaces for people to engage in open and honest dialogue about topics and issues that impact your parish and community, and explore solutions.

SESSION 2

Stewardship of People

To steward is to take care of something and render an account for our stewardship. In this session, we will discuss the stewardship of the Church’s most important resource: its people. We will build upon ongoing efforts to build a synodal Church through increasing the number of young adults, women, and people of color around the leadership table. We will also look at the role of co-responsible finance councils and how we better develop and support lay leadership surrounding Church finances.

Resources

Document of the Synodal Process, For a Synodal Church: communion, participation, and mission

Program and timeline for the involvement of dioceses and episcopal conferences to contribute to the Vatican Synod now scheduled for 2023.

Infographic

A closer look at synodality and its promise for a more inclusive Church, National Catholic Reporter, August 2021

Hosffman Ospino interviews Rafael Luciani on a synodal model of being Church that involves the laity more in decision-making processes.

The Light from the Southern Cross: Promoting Co-Responsible Governance in the Catholic Church in Australia, 2020

Report with 86 recommendations for governance reforms ranging from the selection of bishops to the role of women in decision-making.

Recommendations

2020 Catholic Partnership Summit Report: “We are the Body of Christ” and Executive Summary

A set of recommendations to create a culture of co-responsible governance and leadership, ethical financial management, and stewardship.

Executive Summary

Journeying Together: A National Catholic Intercultural Encounter for Ministries with Youth and Young Adults, July 2020

USCCB process of dialogue and encounter that fosters understanding and trust.

The National Dialogue: Unify, Engage, Mobilize

National collaborative effort to engage the Church in a dialogue on Catholic pastoral ministry with youth and young adults.

Catholic Standards for Excellence for Dioceses, 2009

Excerpt describing best practices for finance and pastoral councils, including responsibilities, composition, orientation, etc.

Co-Responsibility and Accountability through Diocesan Finance Councils and Lay Staff

Proposal to create a network of diocesan finance council chairs and lay staff to engage lay Catholics as chief collaborators with bishops on budgeting and finances.

USCCB Intercultural Competencies

A training program and resources for formation in intercultural competency and communication.

Reflection Question

When your ministry, parish, diocese, or organization gathers to make decisions, who is around the table? Who is not represented? What do we need to do to broaden representation and diversity throughout the Church?

Recommendations

The following recommendations are drawn from the above resources:

Synodality and Co-Responsibility

  • Imagine and build new structures that reflect a more synodal model and that involve the laity much more in decision-making processes.
  • Structure the consultative processes for the appointment of bishops to include an analysis of the needs of the diocese and genuine discernment that includes both clergy and a larger number of lay Catholics.
  • Incorporate synodality in seminary curricula and culture by starting with a foundation in Vatican II: empower lay persons to take a critical role in the selection, formation and suitability for ordination of seminarians.
  • Involve lay persons with appropriate expertise in decisions regarding the placement of priests in parishes.

Representation

  • Build inclusivity into the operations of each diocese and its agencies: conduct inclusion audits and accelerate the appointment of lay women, young adults and people of color to senior leadership roles.
  • Establish regular intercultural dialogues to incorporate each community’s contributions, acknowledge unique issues and concerns, and discern adequate pastoral responses.
  • Invest in the education and ongoing formation of Hispanic/Latino leaders and people of color not equitably represented in ministerial leadership.

Co-Responsible Finance Councils

  • Create a network of diocesan finance council chairs and provide formation to build internal capacity through creating guidelines for selecting independent, diverse, and competent people to serve.
  • Establish open communication from the parish or diocese to the parish or diocesan community about budgeting and finances.

SESSION 3

Stewardship of Financial Resources

As good stewards, we responsibly and ethically care for the people and things entrusted to us. In this session we will dive deep into how the Church manages its financial resources. We will explore financial best practices and benchmarks — including training in both — and address standardized and more regular financial reporting and benchmarks. We will discuss how to establish long-term financial stability as well as how to leverage and strengthen the Church’s assets.

Resources

Co-Responsibility and Ethical Financial Management in the Church, 2021

Executive summary from a national convening of Catholic finance leaders addressing the roots of the Church’s financial crisis, which led to the formation of a coalition and working groups resulting in actionable solutions.

Catholic Financial Integrity: Best Practices

A proposal to develop, promote, and encourage the adoption and implementation of basic financial and accounting best practices for dioceses in the United States.

Benchmark Dashboard of Church Finance and Management Best Practices

A proposal to assist Church stewardship of resources using benchmarks that support transparency, accountability, engagement, and ethical behavior.

Co-Responsibility and Accountability through Diocesan Finance Councils and Lay Staff

A proposal to create a network of diocesan finance council chairs and lay staff to engage lay Catholics as chief collaborators with bishops on budgeting and finances.

COVID-19 Response and Resources, Villanova University

Research on the impact of the pandemic on dioceses, parishes, and schools from the Center for Church Management.

Resources for Co-Responsibility and Ethical Financial Management in the Church

Sample of resources on best practices available to our Church today.

Leadership Roundtable's report on “A Culture of Ethical Financial Management and Stewardship”

Excerpt from the 2020 Catholic Partnership Summit report featuring financial management recommendations.

Reflection Questions

  1. What are the top three changes needed now within the Church to ensure ethical financial practices?
  2. How can the wider Church support and promote the recommendations of the Coalition on Ethical Financial Management in the Church, the joint effort of national organizations to create a unified response to the financial crisis in the Church?

Recommendations

The following recommendations are drawn from the above resources:

National Approach to Ethical Financial Leadership

  • Expand the membership and reach of the Coalition on Ethical Financial Management in the Church, including a diverse range of leaders from multiple disciplines.
  • Create a network of diocesan finance council chairs and lay staff to engage lay Catholics as chief collaborators with bishops on budgeting and finances.
  • Commission a study of all recent financial scandals, as well as diocesan bankruptcies, discerning the financial and moral lessons that can be derived, and preventing future crises.

Best Practices

  • Develop, promote, and encourage the adoption and implementation of standardized financial and accounting best practices for dioceses and other Church entities.
  • Establish benchmarks that assist and support transparency, accountability, and ethical behavior in Church stewardship of resources.
  • Create key performance indicators to evaluate and compare diocesan performance and build a central repository for resources being developed and/or used to support these efforts.
  • Create an online leadership portal where the benchmarks and key performance indicators can be consistently updated and utilized.
  • Ensure that budgets and financials are transparent and accountable at all institutional levels of the Church and reflect Gospel priorities.

SESSION 4

Stewardship of Potential

For Church leaders, it is important to recognize and take proper care of the potential at hand — the expertise, creativity, and diversity of its people, together with investments, property, and the generosity of Catholics. In this session, we will discuss the many assets of the Church and how the Church can utilize those assets to strengthen the financial health of the Church.

Resources

Cardinal Czerny: Synodality is a fundamental trait of ecclesial identity, Vatican News, December, 2020

Synodality is how the Church disposes all its members to co-responsibility and enhances their charisms and ministries.

Fifth National Encuentro of Hispanic/Latino Ministry (English)

Proceedings and conclusions from a multi-year nationwide synodal process led by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops addressing ministry among Hispanic/Latino Catholics.

Español

Vademecum: Handbook for Listening and Discernment in Local Churches

Provides and explanation of the synodal process and a handbook for implementation of the process in parishes, dioceses, regional and continental assemblies.

Preparatory Document

Archbishop Coleridge: Catholic Church must embrace synodality, The Tablet, March, 2021

Australian Bishops’ Conference President calls the synodal process “messy,” but notes it offers the only path to a “future that’s worth having.”

Co-Responsibility of the Lay Faithful in the Church and World, 2016

Pastoral letter from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops on co-responsible leadership in the Church.

Young People are Leading a New Approach to Campus Ministry, US Catholic, August, 2021

Kevin Ahern describes how the Church needs the leadership of young adults as “protagonists of change.”

International Theological Commission: Synodality in the Life and Mission of the Church, 2018

Provides a spiritual, theological, canonical, and practical overview of synodality.

‘Synodality’ and women’s empowerment go together, leading sisters say, Crux, March 2021

Synodality involves reflecting on womens’ role and place in the Church and society, and listening to women, young people, those experiencing poverty, and all on the peripheries.

A Case for Strengthening Church Resources

A proposal to respond to the pandemic and prepare for future crises by developing financial sustainability and access to capital.

Reflection Question

What opportunities are provided by the global synodal process the Church is undertaking? How can you, your parish and your diocese actively participate?

Recommendations

The following recommendations are drawn from the above resources:

Synodal Church

  • Launch a nationally coordinated synodal process in the United States using the Fifth Encuentro as a model, with gatherings at the small group, parish, diocesan, regional, national, and continental levels to respond to Pope Francis’ call for journeying together.
  • Create associations, networks or partnerships among dioceses, parishes, and ministerial organizations to share resources and collaborate on common concerns.
  • Establish structures and channels of communication to involve a wider circle of people who are affected by decisions to participate in dialogue and the decision-making process.

Financial Assets

  • Develop a permanent, independent source of emergency funding and long-term financial support for Catholic ministries in the United States.
  • Establish a system-wide effort to leverage economies of scale, provide seed capital for strategic development, and develop a pooled investment initiative.
  • Assess the utilization of Church-owned properties and establish a vehicle for possible sharing of underutilized property.

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