What is it about the rhetoric of one the most influential and powerful religious leaders in the world and in history—Pope Francis—that is so engaging and yet so challenging to the Church writ large, the American Congress, the news media, and the world? The Rhetoric of Pope Francis: Critical Mercy and Conversion for the Twenty-first Century provides extensive insight into this question through a close, in-depth rhetorical analysis of Pope Francis’s visual, spatial, tactile, written, and oral discourse. This analysis reveals how the interrelated topoi of illness, space, mercy, and conversion converge to articulate Francis’s vision for the Church. Under Francis, the Catholic Church’s virtue of mercy gets renewed and redeployed to papal, pastoral, and political sites for the purpose of conversion. Each chapter identifies several of Francis’s dominant rhetorical strategies. These “pope tropes” take the form of existing and widely held Catholic beliefs that, while stable, still invite interpretation, disputation, and open dialogue. Studying Francis’s various discourses provides us with an exemplary paradigm from which we can learn much about faith, humility, love, and papal rhetoric’s transformative capacity to help us live more compassionate lives.
Christopher J. Oldenburg is associate professor of rhetoric in the Department of Communication and Rhetorical Studies at Illinois College.
Introduction: A Sick Church, Space, the Medicine of Mercy, and Conversion
Part 1: Seeing the Holy See Differently Through Papal and Pastoral Conversions: Photographic Applications
Chapter 1: Perspective by Papal Humility: Hierarchal Psychosis and Pope Francis’s
Chapter 2: “Outward Signs”: The Visual-Spatial Rhetoric of Pastoral Conversion, Religious Mimesis, and its Transgressions
Part 2: Rhetorical Works of Mercy Through Political and Spatial Conversions: American Applications
Chapter 3: Francis Before the Pharisees: Interventional/Intercessional Rhetoric, ‘Representative’ Anecdotes/Antidotes, and the Call for Political Conversion
Chapter 4: “Welcome the Stranger”: The Spatial Conversion of “Birthplace,” Religious Freedom, Immigration, and the Lec“turn” of Inter-contextual Synecdoche
Epilogue: The “Francis Affect”
About the Author