En kirke i krise: En analyse af hvilken effekt den danske katolske kirkes krisekommunikation har haft på de danske katolikker i løbet af foråret 2010

Michal Krzysztof Tempczyk

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

Several times the Catholic Church has been subject to large scale global media attention. A repeating theme of the media coverage has been sexual abuse of children within Catholic institutions. In March 2010 the Danish Catholic Church (DCC) found itself in the eye of the hurricane, as the Danish Catholic Bishop Czeslaw Kozon stated that the Church was aware of several assault cases in Denmark, but was not obligated to neither investigate them nor report them to the police. Subsequently the Bishop was strongly criticised by various legal experts for the lack of action in the specific cases. This resulted in the media coverage reaching a significant level, and new cases of child abuse within the DCC quickly became the top stories of the Danish press. The following two months, the DCC initiated several actions as an attempt to tackle the criticism. The fact that this crisis, in its basic elements, was an ongoing communication process, makes it a very interesting field of study. An aspect of the crisis, which was given very limited attention by the media, is how the crisis and the DCC’s communicative efforts affected the Danish Catholics. Thus, the objective of this thesis is to investigate the context and aspects of the crisis, the communication produced by the DCC during this period and finally, how it affected the Danish Catholics. With a point of departure in the model of Johansen and Frandsen (2007) the Rhetorical Arena, the context of the crisis will be analysed from the perspectives of the numerous stakeholders who took part in the communication process. Moreover, the communicative strategies of the DCC will be analysed by using William L. Benoit’s (1995) theory on image restoration strategies. As a purely theoretical analysis will not suffice, data in the shape of newspaper articles, press releases and articles produced by the DCC concerning the crisis, has been gathered, in order to produce a thorough analysis which can help answer the problem statement. Finally, on the basis of the findings in the two initial analyses, a reception analysis has been conducted among the Danish Catholics. This was conducted by using Mixing Methods i.e. the qualitative interviews facilitated a quantitative questionnaire. The scientific theoretical point of view of this crisis and crisis communication is the socio-constructive perspective. According to this approach, a crisis is an ongoing process constructed linguistically and systematically by its stakeholders. Thus, each crisis is unique, and cannot be foreseen or categorised according to predetermined criteria. The findings from the two initial analyses has shown that the DCC crisis consisted of various contexts, depending on the communicative situation of each stakeholder. The most commonly used image restoration strategy by the DCC was corrective action. However, the question of whether the corrective actions were initiated as a result of the DCC’s good intentions and not the attention of the media, remains unanswered. The main findings of the third and final analysis indicate that Danish Catholics consider the DCC communication effort to be inexpedient. Moreover, the effort aimed at Danish Catholics was very limited but nevertheless regarded predominantly positive. However, the research showed that the Catholics’ relation to the DCC is an important factor when measuring the impact of the crisis. Catholics with strong relations to the DCC have, on a personal level, been significantly affected by the crisis, but their relation to the DCC, generally, remains unaffected. Overall, the majority of Danish Catholics consider themselves as a part of the DCC, and when an entirety is in a crisis, the parts are affected.

EducationsMA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageDanish
Publication date2011
Number of pages90