Flocking to the Fold: Pope Francis's (De)(Re)Territorialization of Catholicism

By Eric James Stephens.

Published by The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

According to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), from 2004 to 2008, the number of Catholics worldwide who reported that they rarely or never attend Mass increased from 25% to 32%; however, within the past year, several countries report congregational increases as high as 20%. On March 13, 2013, the papal conclave elected Pope Francis whose rhetoric has since changed the world’s perception of Catholicism. Since then, he has made rhetorical moves that differ from other popes that may continue to draw people back to Catholicism. In this article, I use Michel Foucault’s Panopticon theory and Deleuze and Guattari’s “A Thousand Plateaus” to understand the difference in rhetoric between Pope Francis and his predecessors. By applying Deleuze and Guattari’s (de)(re)territorialization, we can begin to understand why Pope Francis’s rhetorical approach to Catholic doctrine ceases to alienate and, instead, causes worldwide increases of congregational attendance.

Keywords: Religion, Institutions, Leadership

The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society, Volume 5, Issue 3, September 2015, pp.61-67. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 265.810KB).

Eric James Stephens

Graduate Instructor, English Department, Utah State University, Logan, UT, USA