9th Conference European Sociological Association

RS17 Sociology of Celebration

2009-09-04 09:00:00 2009-09-04 10:30:00 Friday, 4 September 09:00 - 10:30 Rituals and Innovation Building AA, AA.329

Spectacularisation of Faith. The Catholic World Youth Day 2005 in Cologne and the complementarity of innovation and canon

In history the Catholic Church in Rome was always able to be both: innovative and canonical-dogmatic. It seems to be a kind of "institutional cleverness" of this two thousand years old organization to observe social trends as - for example - the recent trend towards Spectacularisation resp. "eventization" and, if it can?t be stopped or stand out, to integrate it in the own agenda. More than the Protestantism - which was "Zeitgeist" in the 1970s - the Catholic Church lately attracts attention with target group specific events which are increasingly mediatised and, in the clerical context, absolutely innovative. Pope John II was the first one who read the signs of time, and Pope Benedict XVI. follows this route (not enthusiastic but unhesitant). It is interesting to see that the attractiveness of these events remarkably goes along parallel to the continuous explicit displacement of young people from ecclesiastical dogmas and catechistic doctrines. This development sort of runs parallel to the idea that canonical principles, which are clerical indispensable, and - for the core part - indisputable are considered as irrelevant. As I am going to show in my contribution, this doesn´t change anything about the fact, that adolescents are magnetically drawn to eventuous belief performances by the church. These performances especially develop a force of attraction when they are accompanied by strong moral appeals to collectivization and charismatic focusing. So to me the question came up, whether the canonical principles and the innovation in an ecclesiastical context are more foiling or mutual evoking. I will try to answer this by using our research on the World Youth Day. In August 2005 this event of the Catholic Church with a tradition of more than twenty years took place in Cologne. It was very successfully organized and attracted more than one million adolescent participants from all over the world (See: Forschungskonsortium WJT: Megaparty Glaubensfest. Weltjugendtag 2005: Erlebnis "Medien" Organisation. Wiesbaden: VS 2007; Pfadenhauer, Michaela: Organisieren. Eine Fallstudie zum Erhandeln von Events. Wiesbaden: VS 2008).