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 8
Push and Pull of Sacred and Secular

The international pastoral visit is John Paul II's distinct way of communicating to a church that is challenged by increasingly secularized cultures. As with any religious language, it deals with the interplay of opposites, coding the tension between what is human and what is above and beyond the human. Yet, through its planning process, its textual arrangement and performance, it recognizes the limits of diversity and fluidity that permeate the audience's experience, sustaining religious consciousness through a multileveled meaning structure that helps us to cope with the discrepancies between normative ideals and everyday practice. The papal visit is a new way of speaking about the sacred.


THE FLUIDITY OF SACRED-SECULAR BORDERS

The rhetorical strategy of John Paul II fluctuates with audiences, subjects, and settings as it weaves back and forth over a range of accommodating and resistance tendencies, thereby demonstrating how construction of a sacred cosmos cannot be held in check for very long at one point on the continuum. In fact, the papal visit employs a polysymbolic strategy that deliberately opens and closes to the secular world, and thus constructs a sacred cosmos of multimeanings. In other words, John Paul II attempts to return to a sacred image that is distinct and apart from the secular and, at the same time, he reaches across the borders to the secular world for symbols that cloud and shatter meaning with their opposing movement. The result is an ambiguity that em-

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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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