Catholic ​Leadership: The Hinge, the Crisis, and the Context​

The following article was written by Kyle Neilson who is Vice President of Evangelium Consulting Group.

Leadership. Everything hinges on it. Programs, books, proposals, dreams: none of these per se causes change. Leaders — people — cause change, for good or for ill.

(Of course, I’m referring to the natural order. Indeed, the Holy Spirit is in charge of the supernatural one . )

Evangelium Consulting

Photo: Entry of Peter the Venerable into school, stained glass window, Church of Saint-Jean, Sauxillanges

“What we have here is a failure to lead.”

We often hear of the crises in the Church of orthodoxy, attrition, and missionary inertia. While these are valid, I think we have a more fundamental crisis: a crisis of leadership.

Courageous people — leaders — can alone instigate renewal, hope, and bold action.

It is people, conversely, who permit unhealthy activity to continue unchecked when they fail to hold people accountable. Ouch, I know. But the truth requires we get honest, brutally honest. The devil loves it when we don’t.

Leadership makes fertile the soil upon which we work in the Church

We must pay attention to the context of leadership and human activity of any kind: namely the health, or lack thereof, of organizations.

By organizational health, we refer to system-wide clarity, trust, healthy debate, good decision-making, accountability, and a team mentality: factors which allow organizations to cooperate fruitfully with God’s grace and thus get a lot done, grow, and do so with joy.

Dioceses, parishes, schools, universities, movements, religious communities, hospitals, families: each has a culture that affects, well, everything.

Organizational health is like the soil in which the seeds of human life and work are planted. If good, the seeds will grow and mature into healthy plants. If poor, they will never flourish.


Finally, in our article series on the Evangelium website, ( we are not afraid to explore uncomfortable areas. We do so with a profound sense of trust in God the Father’s goodness.

We know that “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him,” and that he “raises up the humble.” Let’s courageously acknowledge our sickness so the Divine Physician can heal us, personally and collectively. Come, Holy Spirit.

Kyle Neilson is Vice President of Evangelium Consulting Group and writes from Vancouver, Canada. You can email him at

Discussion question: What aspect of leadership do you think is most important in the Church?



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