FiftyOneZeroOne

Communication Management 101

Posted on: September 20, 2010

The Irish historian, Dr Francis X. Carty, has written a history of Archbishop John Charles McQuaid of Dublin, who died in 1973. McQuaid formed a Public Image Committee in the 1960s but found it hard to cope with two-way communication. Below is a telling quote on “the voice of authority” from McQuaid who found the liberal outcomes of Vatican II rather hard to cope with.

“As a matter of principle, authority cannot give its reasoning. People must accept decisions because authority has spoken, and not the reasons behind the decision. This is, of course, because authority is from God, and the voice of authority is God.”

Archbishop  McQuaid was addressing the first meeting of the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin’s Public Image Committee in the 1960s. He was responding to a priest’s comment that “there is a tendency today for people to be interested in the reason for events”.

(Carty, F.X. (2007). Hold Firm – John Charles McQuaid and the Second Vatican Council. Dublin: The Columbia Press, p.28)

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3 Responses to "Communication Management 101"

With respect to the reverend archbishop, authority from God does not necessary imply one-way communication: “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD” (Isaiah 1:18. Sounds like dialogue to me.

Chris: It’s not what the Bible says but the way that this cleric put it into operation. In an email to me Francis Carty has added: “The statement (by Archbishop McQaid) was consistent with age old Christian teaching on obedience. The word of your superior is the word of God and blind obedience is best because you do it with a purer motive than if you see the reason for it. One of the old examples given to (clergy in training) was that if you are working in the fields and the superior tells you to plant the cabbage upside down, you do so because that is the voice of God.”

I can think of a few CEOs and Vice Chancellors who operated on similar lines to Archbishop McQuaid, but as Francis Carty points out: “McQuaid has to be given credit for being the first bishop in Ireland to set up a press office and, as was usual in those days, he appointed a seasoned journalist but first checked out with his parish priest that this journalist was a weekly attender at Mass. But then, having bought the dog, he wanted to do the barking.” One step was forward and but then one step was back to old habits.

Yes, in a monastery or a religious order where obedience is regarded as a form of spiritual discipline, one can (somewhat) understand it. And I can relate to the experience with CEOs who operated as did the archbishop. I worked for one of whom a commentator more recently said that he ran the company like a royal court. Thank goodness this is (we devoutly hope) the exception rather than the rule today….

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