Politics ex cathedra: Religious authority and the pope in modern international relations

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Authors Federica Genovese
Journal/Conference Name RESEARCH & POLITICS
Paper Category
Paper Abstract Political scientists are increasingly interested in the impact of religious authority on modern politics. However, little attention has been paid to the conditions under which religious leaders are more likely to speak politically. Tackling this question, this article argues that religious authorities should issue political statements at the outbreak of international crises, when secular institutions are unwilling or incapable of taking clear political positions. I test this argument focusing on the Roman Vatican through a quantitative text analysis of the papal encyclicals from 1958 until today. Latent topic models indicate that political themes systematically emerge in the papal documents and that the timing of the more political encyclicals correlate with years in which international crises break out. The findings have implications for the understanding of the modern relations between state and church and the political mobilization of religion today.
Date of publication 2015
Code Programming Language R
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