ROME (CNS) – Uncertainty and restrictive measures carried out due to the coronavirus pandemic are causing an increase in prayer and religious zeal in Italy, a recent study said.
The study, released May 22, was conducted by Milan State University, to “monitor public opinion every day during the COVID-19 emergency period” and its impact “on Italian religiosity.”
After locked restrictions forced the church to close their doors, “the frequency of prayer and participation in religious services increased, although this could only be attended almost,” the report said.
The study is based on interviews with 4,600 people throughout Italy from April 20 to May 15. This study shows the highest percentage increase in prayer during a pandemic is among Catholics who do not attend church at least once a week; More than 16% of those who report going to Mass at least once a month, but not every week, say they pray every day during a pandemic.
The study, which asked participants about their behavior before the pandemic, reported an 11% increase in daily prayer among what was described as “nominal Catholics,” those who said they were Catholics but rarely or never went to Mass.
However, he added, “the growth of religious practices was mainly influenced by the most acute phase of the crisis. In fact, the frequency of prayer decreases with the reduction of those infected. “
Those who have family members infected with coronavirus “significantly increase their participation in religious services and prayer,” he said.
Participation in the Mass – directly before the pandemic and online during that time – is only slightly different for people over 45, the study said. However, there was a 17% increase in Mass participation among those under 45 years of age.
The study also revealed sentiments both for Catholics who practice and those who do not practice the pope and the church.
“Trust in Pope Francis,” the report said, “is far higher than trust in church institutions. The gap between belief in Pope Francis and trust in the church is growing, especially for people who are less religious.”
Most notably, the report notes that political affiliation influences Catholic opinions on the pope.
Catholics from Italian right-wing parties – the Northern League and the Italian Brothers – “lack trust in Pope Francis, while their belief in the church is similar to others,” the report said.
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