At the core of the Concordat is the question- Where does leadership influence come from? A leadership title or a post in a leadership position does not give a person leadership authority. Seniority-authority rests on the premise that being an elder confers authority. But today merit propels vibrant young leaders into positions from which they can influence the future. This is not to claim that qualifications and experience can easily displace the accumulated sophistry of dedicated devotion to duty and long service. Authority spans many nuanced levels along a spectrum from proximal authority to moral authority. Kevin Sharer recognises that moral authority may escape precise taxonomic characteristics but its absence in leadership births distrust, creates cynicism and blocks initiative.
The Concordat establishes that moral authority in education-leadership must be premised on a clear recognition of a candidate’s leadership influence. Moral authority is recognition of the person’s leadership influence based on who they are and not the position they hope to hold or the title they will carry. The Concordat therefore touches a level of leadership influence that comes from possessing the ability to do what is upright, right-minded, principled, proper, noble, respectable, decent, irreproachable, law-abiding and blameless. By assuming the simplest state and by using the fewest elements, the architects managed to escape a narrow focus on chastity alone and touched subtly upon those who have rejected spiritual values by yielding to destructive appetites or by perverting their human intellect to fraud or malice against their fellowmen. People follow people; not intaglio printed positions on business cards. A title may prompt people in proximity to power to assist. It won’t inspire them to surrender their hearts. Faculty fluctuate in their willingness to follow persons with positional authority. Perks may induce people to support a project but it is moral authority that energises efforts like the #MeToo Movement. Moral authority is a slippery concept to pin down.
Some Tibetan and Sherpa women are polyandrous having two or more husbands. Males in the Orient enjoy polygamy and find polyandry quite alarming and reprehensible. High infidelity consumes marriage among the addicts of serial monogamy. Almost every day Pope John Paul inveighed against the ‘culture of death’- abortion, contraception, divorce and premarital sex. Pope Francis admits that the Church is not an exclusive community of the just, but is a field hospital- a place of healing for the lapsed, the doubting and the conflicted. He has admitted that even ‘His Holiness’ is a sinner, and that the Church of Rome is manifestly fallible and vulnerable to the point of collapse through its own faults and complacency. He believes that the burdensome truth of its errors signals the beginning of a gradual and painful restoration of its moral authority which it has squandered. He argues that failure to create a new emphasis threatens greater damage than inaction. And he is convinced that any failure to find a middle ground opens a way for the moral edifice of the Rock of the Ages to fall like a House of Cards. Moral authority is not just hard to pin down but difficult to cultivate and sustain.
During the Pre-Independence period in Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Eric Williams created a ‘Movement’ of the people and Education was the buzzword in that age, just as the current zeitgeist favours a weakening of social controls that makes the reduction of violent crime a priority. But as faith would have it- Papal nobility resided in Trinidad. The Archbishop of Port of Spain, Count Finbar Ryan O.P. was Count of the Holy Roman Empire, a member of the Papal Court of the Holy See and assistant to the pontifical throne. His mission was to establish a stream of Catholic schools under the management of the Presentation Brothers, Holy Faith Sisters, Dominican Fathers and the Spiritans. Among them was the indomitable Benedictine Monk- Dom Basil Matthews. Count Finbar Ryan received the permission of each Order to speak on its behalf as Archbishop and a committee was established. In the end, it was the Principal of C.I.C, Fr. Pedro Valdez and John Donaldson who would watch the ink dry on the parchment. They perceptively conflated education leadership and moral authority with simple and lucid brushstrokes. Count Finbar Ryan knew that no measure of wealth, skill, personality traits, education and accomplishment could compensate for the smallest deficit in moral authority.
Moral authority is a transformative power that takes people to higher levels of living and leading. It moves a school from being ordinary to being extraordinary. It is inspirational leadership that is credible and grounded. Principals, Vice Principals, Senior Teachers, Deans, and Heads of Departments lead teachers at schools from a position of respect and the desire of every teacher to aspire and follow the example of the leader. Leadership is influence says John Maxwell. The power of influence is what the Concordat sets out to sift out. To identify those who have the moral authority to create a ‘Movement’ within the school and thus demonstrate the highest levels of influence among the students and faculty. It spools a seine to catch helpers willing to do what is good, honest, just and truthful and it is not alien to the fact that the faithful are fallible and frail.