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By Phil Lawler, Catholic Culture, June 11, 2021

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org.

The Vatican decision to impose term limits on the leaders of lay associations is not unreasonable on its face. The new policy addresses the problems that have arisen in some lay movements when long-term leaders abused their authority. It should, in theory, provide for the fresh new perspectives that Pope Francis always desires, and guard against the encrustation of power that he fears.

However, the new policy could also conflict with some powerful natural forces: forces of human nature and of ecclesiastical history. Some very successful organizations (within the Church, as in the world at large) are ruled for many years by their founders: inspired by the founder’s charisma and guided by his vision. In many cases that long-term leadership works. …

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