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 2
Between the Sacred and Chaos

Secularization and pluralism have shaken the institutional foundations of established religions, including the Catholic Church. Once directly involved in territorial rule, churches now struggle to be heard in the public forum. Similarly, in the cultural and ideational areas, the rise of science and rational thinking has pushed aside religion's mystical interpretations, relegating expressions of the sacred to a narrow portion of modern life. Moreover, pluralistic living which demands that all religions and expressions of religions be treated with equal respect tends to dislodge automatic acceptance of the superiority of Christianity, making all religious belief relative. As a consequence, in this postmodern era, a papal rhetorical strategy must acknowledge the diminished and relative standing of religious vocabularies. However, as Dobbelaere has observed, when the secularization and pluralistic process is considered to be dependent on social constructs that are not simply given facts but defined and constructed through human interaction and engagement, the outcome of the process is far from inevitable, leaving open the possibility of religion's persistence. 1 The emergence over the last one hundred years of a rhetorical papacy, that is, a papacy that relies on persuasive discourse to lead the church, demonstrates how Christianity has adjusted to the competition of secular ideologies. This papal discourse, as part of a shared vocabulary constructed by the Catholic Church, is what Wuthnow deems an important consideration in learning about how humans order their worlds. 2

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

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Chapter 1 - Introduction 1
  • Notes 14
  • Chapter 2 - Between the Sacred and Chaos 17
  • Notes 27
  • Chapter 3 - Background to the Visits 31
  • Notes 51
  • Chapter 4 - Sensing the Faithful 53
  • Notes 92
  • Chapter 5 - Textual Address: Audience Identification and Characterization 99
  • Notes 132
  • Chapter 6 - Textual Analysis: Symbol Choice 139
  • Notes 168
  • Chapter 7 - Visits as Performance 175
  • Chapter 8 - Push and Pull of Sacred and Secular 203
  • Notes 232
  • Appendix 235
  • Selected Bibliograpby 237
  • Index 251
  • About the Author *
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