Sheep Without a Shepherd (but With an Archbishop)

July 29, 2011

My latest academic study just came out in the Atlantic Journal of Communication. The citation for the article is:

Kaylor, B. (2011). Sheep without a shepherd (but with an archbishop): Foucault's pastoral power and the denying of communion. Atlantic Journal of Communication, 19, 152-168.
Here is the abstract:
In 2003 and 2004, Raymond Burke went from being a little known bishop in Wisconsin to one of the most controversial figures in the Catholic Church. Burke created controversy by saying he would deny communion to Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry and other pro-choice Catholic politicians, and for denying communion to Polish Catholic parishioners who refused to cede control of church assets. This study explores Burke's rhetoric in these two unique and important conflicts in light of Michel Foucault's work on pastoral power to analyze the usage of the shepherd concept, its limits, and implications for power within church organizations.
The issue is once again relevant as we head into another presidential cycle. Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver recently was named the Archbishop of Philadelphia. Chaput, like Burke, took a position during the 2004 campaign that pro-choice Catholic politicians should not receive communion. He also criticized Notre Dame for inviting President Barack Obama to speak at commencement. With Pennsylvania likely to be an important state in the 2012 elections, Chaput's promotion to there could make him an important religious leader to watch. Additionally, the fact that he received the promotion--and that Burke received one following the cases I examined--suggests that the Catholic Church's leadership is supportive of such political efforts by archbishops.