A Cultural Transformation in the Vatican? Trying to Fix a Disjointed Culture

Recently, Pope Francis used his annual Christmas greeting to outline plans to fix longstanding internal issues within the Catholic Church. Some are surprised that the Pope was willing to criticize his own organization so openly. However, having inherited a disjointed culture within the church, a cultural transformation will be necessary in order for Pope Francis to be able to implement the changes he has said are a priority


In my book “The Bully’s Trap,” I examined the organizational culture of the Catholic Church, noting that it exemplifies many of the key characteristics of a disjointed workplace culture. These characteristics include a cover-up mentality, a lack of shared principles and an inconsistent application of rules and policies that allow individuals to promote their own interests at the expense of the team.

I also suggested that the new Pope Francis would need to implement a cultural transformation in order to pave the way for the reforming agenda he has been pursuing to be successful.


On December 22nd, Pope Francis held back no punches with a scathing criticism of the practices that have maintained a disjointed culture. He notably denounced those in the Church who have sought power at the expense of others and those who have acted “rigid, tough and arrogant” to the people working under them.

Openly discouraging this type of behaviour could lead to great progress within the Catholic Church. While a disjointed culture tacitly encourages workplace bullying and other inappropriate behaviours, the acknowledgement and discouragement of damaging behaviours is crucial in the process of redefining what is accepted in a workplace as it moves forward on the path to a stable workplace culture.