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“Mediatized Catholicism.” Communicative Figurations of Religious Authority in Recent German Catholicism

Panel Chair: Kerstin Radde-Antweiler | Monday, August 24, 9-11 a.m.| Venue

The papers of this panel are looking for mediatization processes of religious authorities in recent Catholicism. Religious authority serves as a fundamental concept in religion and in mediatized cultures and societies, such apparently non-negotiable patterns become increasingly debated within and beyond religions. Thus, we can observe the struggle for symbolic capital between the traditional religious experts, new parties, as well as the so-called laity, which leads to different authority structures. The initial hypothesis of the project is that traditional religious authority has not been completely changed by mediatization, or even dissolved, but that different transformation patterns in different communicative figurations within the field can be observed. This involves the question of the extent to which authority structure has changed with the increasing variety of communication media, and the question to what extent we find different patterns of transformation concerning these authority-creating communicative figurations.

Marta Kolodziejska

Establishing religious authority on Catholic online forums – a case study

In this paper three leading Catholic internet forums will be examined, in order to determine how the online forums change authority building, as analyzed by Campbell (2007) in the form of structures, hierarchy, ideology and texts. It was established that there is an ongoing tension between expressive individualism and church religiosity, which manifests itself in several ways: texts, ideology and hierarchy are discussed and often contested. So are structures (understood after Campbell as community structures and patterns of practice),with the exception of religious practice reserved for offline settings. Generally, authority among participants is established within a particular thread or theme, it is not assumed due to religious affiliation (believers and non-believers participate in the forums with equal status) or due to the role in offline communities. This study shows that while the forums are not the ‘centres of defiance’ against institutional authority per se, they establish their own rules when it comes to religious communication communities.

Hannah Grünenthal

Struggling for a place – the CE in the Catholic Field

The Charismatic Renewal in the Catholic Church (“Charismatische Erneuerung – CE”) was founded in the 1960s, at the same time as Charismatic movements in other Christian denominations. What they have in common is the emphasis on the role of the Holy Spirit and the Charisms, as well as non-traditional forms of liturgy. Members of the CE are spread all over Germany and they are mostly organized in small prayer-groups. Contrary to the organization of the Catholic Church, translocal structures seem to be of minor importance. Even though charismatic practices evoke criticism in the Catholic field, the members of the CE insist on being part of the Catholic Church. In my paper, I will examine the position of the CE in the German catholic field, and outline which mechanisms and structures are used in the attempt to raise or lower their status. Furthermore, I will explore which media are used by members of the CE, both for the purpose of information and communication, regarding online as well as offline media.

Sina Gogolok

The Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church as a non- hierarchical branding instrument

The YOUCAT (YOUth CATechism) belongs to the current phenomena of the Catholic Church in line with the so- called New Evangelization, an emic concept of internal catholic renewal. The initiators refer to an elaborated marketing concept, which marks a new change in advertising Catholic doctrine. The questions of this paper are, first, to what extent the YOUCAT can be understood as a brand, and second, in what way the argument to be a new catechism “from below” is a unique feature of this assumed brand. To consolidate this state of being a “bottom- to-top-catechism” social media are used as a platform for discussions. This paper will exemplary analyze YOUCAT- Facebook groups to show how this platform is used and how the administrators are interfering respectively are involved. Which role do media play by advertising YOUCAT, and how do they transport the idea of being a non-hierarchical catechism?


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