Italy: Study shows increase in prayer, religious fervor amid pandemic

A woman prays in a window opening overlooking a street in Milan, Italy, March 21, 2020, during a nationwide lockdown to reduce the spread of COVID-19. A recent study shows an increase in prayer and religious fervor in Italy amid the coronavirus pandemic. (CNS photo/Salvatore Laporta, Reuters)

ROME (CNS) -- The uncertainty and restrictive measures in place due to the coronavirus pandemic caused an increase in prayers and religious fervor in Italy, a recent study said.

The study, which was released May 22, was conducted by the State University of Milan, to "daily monitor public opinion during the COVID-19 emergency" and the impact it "has had on the religiosity of Italians."

Advertisement

After lockdown restrictions forced churches to close their doors, "the frequency of prayer and participation in religious services increased, although these could be attended only virtually," the report stated.

The study was based on interviews with 4,600 people across Italy from April 20 to May 15. It showed the highest percentage increase in prayer during the pandemic was among Catholics who did not attend church at least once a week; 16% more of those who reported going to Mass at least once a month, but not every week, said they prayed each day during the pandemic.

[Explore all of America’s in-depth coverage of the coronavirus pandemic]

[Don’t miss the latest news from the church and the world. Sign up for our daily newsletter.]

The study, which asked participants about their behavior prior to the pandemic, reported an 11% increase in daily prayer among what it described as "nominal Catholics," those who said they were Catholic but seldom or never went to Mass.

However, it added, "the growth of religious practice was primarily influenced by the most acute phase of the crisis. In fact, the frequency of prayer decreases with the reduction of those infected."

Those who had a family member infected by the coronavirus "significantly increased their participation in religious services and prayer," it said.

[Want to discuss politics with other America readers? Join our Facebook discussion group, moderated by America’s writers and editors.]

Participation at Mass -- in person before the pandemic and online during it -- was only minimally different for people over the age of 45, the study said. However, there was an increase of 17% in Mass participation among those under 45.

The study also revealed the sentiments of both practicing and nonpracticing Catholics toward the pope and the church.

"Trust in Pope Francis," the report said, "is much higher than trust in the institution of the church. The gap between trust in Pope Francis and trust in the church is growing, especially for less religious people."

Most notably, the report noticed that political affiliation influenced the opinion of Catholics toward the pope.

Catholic members of Italy's right-wing parties -- the Northern League and Brothers of Italy -- "have less trust in Pope Francis, while their trust in the church is similar to that of other individuals," the report said.

We don’t have comments turned on everywhere anymore. We have recently relaunched the commenting experience at America and are aiming for a more focused commenting experience with better moderation by opening comments on a select number of articles each day.

But we still want your feedback. You can join the conversation about this article with us in social media on Twitter or Facebook, or in one of our Facebook discussion groups for various topics.

Or send us feedback on this article with one of the options below:

We welcome and read all letters to the editor but, due to the volume received, cannot guarantee a response.

In order to be considered for publication, letters should be brief (around 200 words or less) and include the author’s name and geographic location. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

We open comments only on select articles so that we can provide a focused and well-moderated discussion on interesting topics. If you think this article provides the opportunity for such a discussion, please let us know what you'd like to talk about, or what interesting question you think readers might want to respond to.

If we decide to open comments on this article, we will email you to let you know.

If you have a message for the author, we will do our best to pass it along. Note that if the article is from a wire service such as Catholic News Service, Religion News Service, or the Associated Press, we will not have direct contact information for the author. We cannot guarantee a response from any author.

We welcome any information that will help us improve the factual accuracy of this piece. Thank you.

Please consult our Contact Us page for other options to reach us.

When you click submit, this article page will reload. You should see a message at the top of the reloaded page confirming that your feedback has been received.

[Explore America’s in-depth coverage of Pope Francis.]

Advertisement

The latest from america

Tucker Redding, S.J. guides listeners through contemplative prayer in this 10-part limited series "Imagine: A Guide to Jesuit Prayer."
Pope Francis touches a Marian icon as he leaves at the end of a vigil, ahead of Pentecost Sunday, at the Vatican June 8, 2019. (CNS photo/Remo Casilli, Reuters)
The pope’s message poses a sharp challenge to a movement known more for personal conversion and evangelization than practical mercy.
Austen IvereighMay 30, 2020
A woman in Minneapolis expresses her anger and frustration on May 28, at the site where George Floyd was pinned down on May 25 by a police officer; he was later pronounced dead at a local hospital. (CNS photo/Dave Hrbacek, The Catholic Spirit)
"Indifference is not an option," said the chairmen of seven committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. They stated "unequivocally" that "racism is a life issue."
Pope Francis prays after leading the recitation of the rosary during a prayer service at the Lourdes grotto in the Vatican Gardens on May 30. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Pope Francis led the recitation of rosary and asked Mary to intercede to save the world from the pandemic in the Vatican Gardens at a replica of the grotto at Lourdes, France.