The international and interdisciplinary conference 'Popes on the Rise! Mobilization, Media and Political Power of the Modern Papacy' aimed to investigate both the political role of the modern papacy and its historical evolution during the last century. At the invitation of Stefan Heid, director of the Römisches Institut der Görres-Gesellschaft, the congress hosted more than forty participants. Mariano Barbato (Muenster) coordinated and organized the conference, which was a cooperative event of the Center for Religion and Modernity and the Römisches Institut der Görres-Gesellschaft. The event was supported by Ambassador Umberto Vattani, President of the International University of Venice, and the Circolo del Ministero degli Affari Esteri, as well as by Annette Schavan, German Ambassador to the Holy See. Considering the developments within the fields of religious belief, political influence, and medial reception there is little doubt that the role of the modern papacy has been subject to great changes. In fact, it seems as if the pope has not only remained a prominent religious actor, but may also have gained influence beyond the Roman Catholic Church and has become a global player in different areas of a global political society. The conference aimed to explore this new political impact of the modern papacy, its possibilities to mobilize the masses as well as the interceding roles of the media.
While opening the conference ANNETTE SCHAVAN (Vatican City, German Ambassador to the Holy See) outlined political challenges of the European community. Focussing on the history of the papacy within the 20th and 21st century, the former member of the German federal parliament emphasized the binding power of words, spoken by modern popes. Referring to Pope John Paul's “Vision of Europe to breathe again with both lungs”, Benedict’s “reminding us for the foundations” or Francis' “urgent plea to European spirits”, the ambassador linked Christianity and its values to the need for political decisions regarding refugees, but also the current economic and political challenges.
Outlining the Holy See's political capabilities within the framework of international relations, TIMOTHY BYRNES (Hamilton, NY) used Joseph Nye's concept of soft power to investigate the Holy See's systemic level of political interaction. In his key note speech he exemplified the role of Pope Francis as political and social mediator, by presenting patterns of institutional influence as well as the Holy See's local role for Catholic communities in selected countries.
In its first panel the conference took a deeper look at the medial impact of as well as on the Holy See. FEDERICO RUOZZI (Modena / Bologna) used case studies of three different papacies and emphasised the importance of visual documents as source for historic analysis. He stressed the key role of the media. A topic also discussed by Father CHARLES GALLAGHER (Boston), who exemplified the role of Pius XII in the plea for clemency of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. CHIARA DE FRANCO (Odense) talked about practises on the diplomatic level and supported the hypothesis that the Holy See has become a game-shaper in times of fundamental changes in global foreign-policy. RYSZARD ZAJĄCZKOWSKI (Lublin) took John Paul II and his pilgrimage to Poland as example of a transformation process towards a modern dynamic church.
The day closed with a key note lecture of FRANK BÖSCH (Potsdam) on the impact of John Paul II’s travel to Poland under communist rule. Bösch discussed how the deliberate media strategy of the communist Polish government was undermined by the pope and the masses.
The second day of the conference started off with two key notes on the topic of the Holy See and the pope within the international political system. MATTHIAS ALBERT (Bielefeld) discussed the Holy See within the theoretical framework of political sociology. THOMAS DIEZ (Tübingen) took the concept of soft power up again and emphasised the pope's role as an international actor in the perspective of the English School approach of International Relations Theory. The professor of international relations argued that the Holy See as member of many international organisations has always had a “foot in the door”, playing the role as a political mediator.
Examining the relationship between capitalism and papal influence, ROBERT JOUSTRA (Ancaster ON) showed how the encyclical letter Rerum Novarum could be seen as a potential lesson for twenty-first century labour organisations. LUCA MAVELLI (Kent) compared papal statements regarding the development of the market and its competition.
PETR KRATOCHVIL (Prague) opened the following panel, which focused on the papal impact on world religions and world regions. Utilizing the theoretical framework of discourse analysis, Kratochvil showed that while Pope Benedict XVI accentuated and discussed in his Urbi et Orbi messages specific countries and topics such as violence, Pope Francis' 'discourse map' tends to be broader. JÖRG FRIEDRICHS' (Oxford) presentation on Christians in India shifted the attention to a specific region. MELANIE BARBATO (Muenster) discussed the Deepavali messages of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue as a form of public diplomacy. She argued that despite a general strategy of polite and vague language, a more direct approach was at times chosen on the issue of freedom of religion. SHOSHANA RONEN (Warsaw) discussed success and limits of the papal approach of interreligious dialogue in the perspective of Jewish scholars.
The second conference day concluded with a panel on the levels of papal impact and on the question of how popes influence the public. RUBEN C. LOIS GONZALEZ and BELEN M. CASTRO FERNANDEZ (Santiago de Compostela) presented their historical research on the construction of Spanish national identity in the 19th and 20th century. Looking back in the era of the Cold War, ADRIAN HÄNNI (Leiden/Zurich) examined “The Commission for the Persecuted Church” with focus on its main objectives as well as on its overall success. JODOK TROY (Stanford) diagnosed a categorical shift between John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis regarding human rights discourses.
The third day of the conference started with three key notes with special attention on the historical lines of development and cross sections of papal mobilization within politics and society. STEFAN SAMERSKI (Berlin / Munich) explained the changing role of the media within the last century. His analysis of mass media such as movies, radio and television broadcasts showed that the pope has been increasingly seen as a global political figure and that his overall popularity within newspaper articles and magazines had grown. Following these statements THOMAS BRECHENMACHER (Potsdam) focussed on the encyclical letter 'Pacem in Terris' and its political and social impacts. Brechenmacher analysed how John XXIII became widely accepted as moral instance for humanities global problems. The central question of TASSILO WANNER's (Munich) presentation was whether John Paul II’s impact in international relations led to some kind of Holy Alliance with the United States.
Discussing the presumed rise of the modern papacy the following panel offered three different perspectives. FRANCISCO JAVIER RAMON SOLANS (Muenster), who examined papal mobilization in Latin America as a transnational phenomenon, spoke in favour of the proclaimed rise and argued that the papacy managed to establish its agenda on a transnational level. In stating that the papacy has already risen to new heights since its last historic low point in 1814, OLAF BLASCHKE (Muenster) exemplified the 19th century struggle for sovereignty in interpreting events between Ultramontanism and Anticlericalism. ANDREAS MATENA (Augsburg) focused on the Lateran acheiropoieta icon of Christ the Savior as a papal instrument for mobilization.
The last panel of the day took up the issue of mass mobilization, focusing on questions regarding pilgrimages and pilgrims. ULRICH NERSINGER (Aachen) emphasised the papal support for the 19th century's technical developments and described how the construction of railway lines in Italy influenced and changed the mobilization of native and foreign pilgrims to the Vatican until today. MASSIMILIANO VALENTE (Rome) questioned the rise of papal mass mobilization and demonstrated the lack of papal impact during both world wars on a political and social level. In contrary HEINRICH WALTER (Rome) spoke in favour of the modern pope's impact on mobilizing the masses and discussed new forms of modern pilgrimage. He identified authenticity, certainty of shared moral values, and an appearance of regained vitality of the church as key factors for the tied relationship between a younger generation of believers and the papacy.
The fourth event day started with a Vatican garden tour to the museum in the old radio station of Radio Vatican guided by MARIO GALGANO (Rome) The day took place under the motto 'Pope, media and methods of evaluation'. Within the scope of a workshop a group of five speakers presented and discussed methodological concepts as well as methods of data processing, linking them to research on the modern papacy and the role of the media. DAVID SCHMIEDEL (Magdeburg) presented a mixture of discourse and multimodal framing analysis to identify prominent topics as well as time specific narrations. PETER KLIMCZAK (Chair of Applied Media Studies, Cottbus) together with MATTHIAS WOLFF and GÜNTHER WIRSCHING (both Chair of Communication Technology, Cottbus) illustrated a language relation model which included formal articulation and interpretation of each participant within the communication process. They exemplified their method on a public statement by Benedict XVI, the reactions as well as interpretations of the original statement by journalists and Federico Lombardi, spokesman of the Vatican. Following ISABELLA TARSI (Rome) presented Lakoff’s approach of metaphors utilizing linguistic analysis conceptions. The lively discussion centred on the technical possibilities of computer based analysis, questioning its capacity to recognize forms of irony or not stated references.
Taking up the workshop's main discussion, the next panel aimed to clarify the pope's role within the media itself and further its potential enhancement of papal mobilization. In their presentation with the catching title 'Popestar', PETER KLIMCZAK together with CONSTANZE TSCHÖPE and MATTHIAS WOLFF (Cottbus) gave the audience a short insight into their yet unreleased book which will contain thoughts and interviews of various philosophers, psychologists, and communication scientist as well as of journalists and writers. Not the pope's life but his death was the subject of RENE SCHLOTT's (Potsdam) presentation in which he unfolded a positive trend of political attendance at papal funeral ceremonies. JOHANNES LÖFFLER (Muenster) introduced an alternative concept of speech act theory, thereby changing the perspective on the papal usage of digital media. Moving on from the digital word to digital distributed pictures, ALEXANDER FILIPOVIĆ (Munich) dealt with the concept of 'Produsage' and the creation of visual content in a global world. MATHIAS BELAFI's (Bonn) speech focussed on canonization as well as the creation of patron saints and highlighted the political implications and usages of symbolic acts.
The day closed with a public evening lecture held by VOLKER RESING, editor in chief of the Herder Verlag. Presenting a journalistic view, his paper dealt with the phrase “Wir sind Papst” (“We are Pope”) originally used by the German BILD-Zeitung after the election of Pope Benedict XVI. Resing concluded that the medial reality of the pope has extended his prominence on a global level.
Wrapping up the conference discussion, a concluding talk was given by MARIANO BARBATO (Muenster) on the fifth day. Barbato used the papal Angelus prayer as an example to explain how the popes are able to communicate their political agendas regularly and directly in the context of the weekly review of public events.
Within an age of globalization and digitalization the conference lectures revealed multi-layered aspects of papal power. Within the realm of international relations the pope remains a political actor who is able to mobilize his legions.
Annette Schavan (German Ambassador to the Holy See): Popes in Parliament
Panel I. The Holy See in World Politics
Timothy Byrnes (Hamilton, NY): Sovereignty, Supranationalism, and Soft Power: The Holy See in International Relations
Panel II. The Media Impact of and on the Holy See
Federico Ruozzi (Modena/Bologna): From Lumière brothers to the Selfie. How the presence of the papacy changes in the Media Age
Chiara De Franco (Odense): The Papacy in the New Media Ecology
Charles Gallagher (Boston): An Inconvenient Pope: The Press, President Eisenhower, and Pope Pius XII's Clemency Requests for Julius and Ethel Rosenberg
Ryszard Zajączkowski (Lublin): John Paul II and a Polish tradition of pilgrimage
Frank Bösch (Potsdam): Der „Medienpapst” als Herausforderer des Sozialismus: Die erste Polenreise von Papst Johannes Paul II
Panel III. The Holy See in World Society
Matthias Albert (Bielefeld): Beyond integration and differentiation? The Holy See and the Pope in the system of world politics.
Thomas Diez (Tübingen): Diplomacy, Papacy and the Transformation of International Society
Panel IV. Capitalism and Papal Influence
Robert Joustra (Ancaster ON): Rerum Novarum and the Right to Work: Nineteenth Century Lessons for Twenty-First Century Labor
Luca Mavelli (Kent): Pope Francis and the Crisis of Neoliberal Capitalism
Panel V. Papal Impact on World Religions and World Regions
Petr Kratochvil (Prague): Papal Geopolitics: The World According to Urbi et Orbi
Jörg Friedrichs (Oxford): Limitations and opportunities for the Pope and the Catholic Church to gain acceptance in India and China
Melanie Barbato (Muenster): Dialogue and Diplomacy: the Vatican’s Involvement in Hindu-Christian Relations
Shoshana Ronen (Warsaw): Modern Jewish Thought and Contemporary Popes: A Jewish Perspective of Modern Papacy
Panel VI. Levels of Impact: How Popes Influence the Public
Rubén C. Lois González/Belén Mª Castro Fernández (Santiago de Compostela): Spectacle and Power: Sites and Spaces of Papal Visits in Spain
Adrian Hänni (Leiden/Zurich): The Political Papacy in the Age of Transnational Mass Mobilization: The Case of the Commission pour l’Eglise Persécutée
Jodok Troy (Stanford): Pope Francis and the papal notion of human rights
Panel VII. Geschichtliche Entwicklungslinien und Querschnitte päpstlicher Mobilisierung in Politik und Gesellschaft (1)
Stefan Samerski (Berlin/Munich): Die Popularisierung des Papstes - Pius XII. zwischen Tradition und Moderne
Thomas Brechenmacher (Potsdam): "Pacem in terris" (1963) und das Erbe Pius' XII
Tassilo Wanner (Munich): Heilige Allianz? Die USA, der Heilige Stuhl und der Fall des Kommunismus
Panel VIII. Geschichtliche Entwicklungslinien und Querschnitte päpstlicher Mobilisierung in Politik und Gesellschaft (2)
Francisco Javier Ramón Solans (Muenster): Der Ultramontanismus und der Aufstieg des Papstes als transnationales und transatlantisches Phänomen 1819-1914. Das Beispiel Lateinamerikas
Olaf Blaschke (Muenster): Der Aufstieg des Papsttums aus dem Antiklerikalismus. Die Dialektik von endogenen und exogenen Kräften der transnationalen Ultramontanisierung
Andreas Matena (Augsburg): „Hülfe für das bedrängte Polen!“ Die päpstliche Aktivierung des Lateransalvators in der Neuzeit
Panel IX. Geschichtliche Entwicklungslinien und Querschnitte päpstlicher Mobilisierung in Politik und Gesellschaft (3)
Ulrich Nersinger (Aachen): Auf neuen Wegen - die Nutzung der 'strade ferrate' / Eisenbahnen zur 'peregrinatio ad Petri sedem'
Massimiliano Valente (Rome): Päpstliche Mobilisierungsfähigkeit während des Weltkrieges
Heinrich Walter (Rome): Der Papst als personale Mitte einer Pilgerbewegung im Kontext globaler Veränderungen
Workshop. Methoden der Medienanalyse päpstlicher Mobilisierung.
Chair: Johannes Löffler (Muenster)
Peter Klimczak (Cottbus) / David Schmiedel (Magdeburg) / Isabella Tarsi (Rome) / Günther Wirsching (Eichstätt) / Matthias Wolff (Cottbus)
Panel X. Medien und Politik. Der Papst in den Medien: Ambivalente Effekte oder Mobilisierungsverstärker?
Peter Klimczak (Cottbus): Popestar
René Schlott (Potsdam): Gipfeltreffen am Grab. Die Politisierung des Papsttodes in der Moderne
Johannes Löffler (Muenster): Das Zwitschern des Papstes
Alexander Filipovic (Munich): Digitales Papsttum? "Produsage" von Papstcontent im Schnittfeld von öffentlicher und privater Kommunikation
Mathias Belafi (Bonn): Päpstliche Politik durch die Ehre der Altäre? Politische Implikationen von Selig- und Heiligsprechungen
Öffentlicher Abendvortrag des Römischen Instituts der Görres-Gesellschaft
Volker Resing (Berlin): „Wie sind wir Papst?“ Konflikte und mediale Zuschreibungen in der Wahrnehmung Roms und der Weltkirche in Deutschland
Mariano Barbato (Muenster): Das Angelusgebet auf dem Petersplatz als weltpolitischer Appell