The Function of Speech Acts in a Vatican II Declaration: Gravissimum Educationis

Toon van Gestel*, Fred van Iersel, Kees de Groot

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


This paper provides an analysis of Gravissimum Educationis, the Vatican II declaration on Christian Education. The paper focusses on speech acts as text signals for an ideal reader within the declaration's communication framework. To date, speech acts have not been scrutinized in Vatican II constitutions, decrees, or declarations. An analysis of performative utterances in Gravissimum Educationis is presented on the basis of J.R. Searle's taxonomy on speech acts. The major finding is that in its speech acts, Gravissimum Educationis, as a Vatican II declaration, stands out from previous ecclesiastical documents. As a new form of Church language, it is innovative and, as such, may fit in well with the panegyric literary genre.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)280-304
Number of pages25
JournalJET: Journal of empirical theology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • Gravissimum Educationis
  • Catholic Education
  • Speech Acts
  • codes taxonomy
  • Panegyric literary Genre


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