Power in leadership should be used for service—Vatican official

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Msgr. Paul Tighe

MANILA, Nov. 24, 2013—The power that comes with being a leader is not meant to be used for one’s own interests but to serve and reach out to others, a Vatican official said. 

Reflecting on the gospel reading on today’s feast of Christ the King, Msgr. Paul Tighe, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communication, said Jesus’ idea of kingship is “all about service, of reaching out to others, not about looking after one’s own interests.” 

Tighe presided on November 24 the closing Mass of the Catholic Social Media Summit at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran, which also coincided with the feast of the Christ the King and the closing of the Year of Faith. 

He said that by his example, Jesus has given a representation of the power that comes with authority and how it should be lived, different from the way the world perceives it. 

Tighe noted the way of Jesus is of “giving yourself, of not controlling, not dominating, not having power but of giving yourself and spending yourself in the service of others.” 

“So Jesus was recovering a different form of leadership, a different way of thinking, a different way of being powerful,” he said. 

The resignation of Pope Benedict from the papacy is one example of using the power of the office at the service of the Church, Tighe noted. 

Pope Benedict “relinquished the power, because he was not sure he had the strength, the physical ability any longer to do what was required. He saw that the service of being pope was not about himself but about building up the church,” Tighe said.  “He did it because he saw his power and his office as being all about service.” 

Pope Francis has also defined his own way of being a leader, a way of having power through his simplicity, of reaching out to the sick and going to those who have been cast aside, Tighe noted. 

The examples that Benedict XVI and Pope Francis have shown may tempt us to point fingers to our political leaders and say they also should be different. 

Instead the question we should ask, according to Tighe, is what does having this power mean for each of us. 

“Usually we are not inclined to think of ourselves as powerful. We are not inclined to think ourselves as wealthy, as having huge authority, but we have to remember we are exceptionally privileged, we are a people who have a gift of faith, and by and large, we are a people with life with certain benefits, certainly there are people who are poorer who are in greater need than we are,” he said. 

He said the real test of who we are as persons would depend on how we use the little power that we have in us when we interact with people. 

“Are we attentive to the people who are begging in our streets? It’s not that we can have money always for them, but to always see in them their dignity and their worth. How do I treat the less fortunate?” 

Our attitude and the way we treat people becomes the hallmark of the kind of person that we are, he said. (CBCPNews)

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