The Rhetoric of Pope John Paul II: The Pastoral Visit as a New Vocabulary of the Sacred

By Margaret B. Melady | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I
Introduction

Pope John Paul II's image has appeared repeatedly in print and electronic media throughout the world during the twenty years of his papacy. Largely because of his travels and their extensive media coverage, John Paul II is probably better known than any other pope in modern times. His forceful and captivating personality has facilitated the creation of a high media profile, but personal appeal alone cannot sustain the public interest and recognition that John Paul II has continually received year after year. When Pope John Paul II was chosen Time magazine's Man of the Year for 1994, Time correspondents explained their choice by pointing to the pope's "mass proselytizing," in which he used well and often the "world's bully-est pulpit" to make the world listen to his message. 1 Consequently, John Paul II's high media profile is due not to one or several single acts, but to his multiple, sustained, and purposeful efforts to construct meaning for the church in the public forum of the world. Certainly, John Paul II is not the first pope to preach to the world on moral issues, nor is he the first pope to venture outside the Vatican. However, he is the first pope to use the international visit as a new form of communicating with the far reaches of the Catholic Church, contributing a unique character to the development of the modern rhetorical papacy.


EMERGENCE OF THE RHETORICAL PAPACY

John Paul II's use of communicative tactics is an outgrowth of social and political changes that have led to an emergence of a rhetorical pa

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