Craig Maier

Defense Date


Graduation Date

Fall 2008


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Communication and Rhetorical Studies


McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Ronald C. Arnett

Committee Member

Janie Harden Fritz

Committee Member

Calvin Troup

Committee Member

Francesco Cesareo


Church Administration, Roman Catholic Organizations, Organizational Rhetoric, Applied Philosophical Research, Roman Catholic Rhetorical Theory


What can Roman Catholic diocesan administrations in the United States learn from rhetorical studies in the postmodern moment? This dissertation attempts to help American dioceses to respond to a postmodern moment of increasing secularization, changing human resources, and declining institutional trust. In this moment of challenge and uncertainty, it finds Richard Neuhaus's (1987) metaphor of the Catholic Moment to be particularly powerful for diocesan administration because it finds within the tensions of postmodernity a new sense of possibility that both the Christian and rhetorical traditions have understood through the metaphor of kairos.

The rhetoric of diocesan administration is best understood not as the implementation of communicative or managerial 'techniques' but as a form of playful engagement that flows out of the pastoral acknowledgement of the call of a homeless world. 'Part I: The Call of the Catholic Moment' describes the challenges that American dioceses currently face, frames the rhetorical dimensions of diocesan life, and seeks to ground the rhetoric of diocesan administration in the institutional roots that give it a human face: the stewardship of the gift of the Catholic faith and the pastoral care of persons. In the moment of postmodernity, dioceses that fail to attend to these roots compromise their identity and their ability to respond to the Catholic Moment.

In the Catholic Moment, diocesan administrations are constantly invited and challenged to learn how to become better dioceses--more confident, more competent, more caring, and more self-consciously Catholic--than ever before. 'Part II: The Response of Diocesan Administration' approaches the rhetorical challenges of postmodernity in a constantly constructive fashion. Building on the notion of interpretive play so important to Hans-Georg Gadamer's (1960/2004) philosophical hermeneutics, it will propose an understanding of diocesan rhetoric framed by the metaphor of administrative play that transforms diocesan administration from a bureaucratic structure into a communicative home. By allowing Catholic dioceses to see the historical moment of postmodernity in ways conducive to administrative play, Neuhaus's metaphor of the Catholic Moment--transforms postmodernity into an occasion of kairos'-as long as dioceses are open and willing to seize it.