Reverse Engineering Traditional Catholicism in the Internet Age

By: Brian Panasiak  

Ever since the reforms of the Second Vatican Council there has been within the Catholic Church a small yet ardent sub-culture of followers of the traditions that were abandoned by the Church at large. Focusing primarily around the Latin language celebration of the Catholic Mass, these “traditionalists” form a community of like minded individuals who wish to practice their faith in a way that is, at best, no longer the way commonly used by the Catholic Church at large. This community faces two problems, a small number of followers as well as a hierarchy that is somewhat in opposition to the yearnings of this flock of old school believers. As such, community organization and the preservation or learning of certain religious devotions can be difficult at times. To counter this, these traditional Catholics take to the internet in order to communicate, organize, as well as share, preserve, and educate one another on traditions long believed to be dead by the world at large. This paper presents an overview of the online activities of these “rad trads” and provides an examination of the digital frameworks, websites, and social networks used to both foster the faith and continue the traditions of the Catholic Church as they were before the Second Vatican Council. Specific attention is given to the way in which modern meme culture, social media, and databases are used by traditional Catholics in the practice of their ancient faith.

Internet Religion, Traditional Catholicism, Religion and Modernity
Religious Community and Socialization
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Brian Panasiak

Ph.D., The John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, Poland

Brian Panasiak is a PHD student at the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin. His interests include the merger of metaphysics and personalism, religious studies, history, and modern internet culture. A Polish-American born in rural New England and raised in the South, Brian Panasiak aims to reconcile the diversity of opinions he finds surrounding himself, and in the process discover a bit of truth.