A majority of Americans say they have prayed for an end to the novel coronavirus, including some who say they rarely or never pray, a new survey reports.
According to a new study from the Pew Research Center, published on Monday, 55% of Americans have prayed for an end to the pandemic, including slightly more than two-thirds (68%) of Catholics.
The survey of 11,537 U.S. adults was conducted between March 19 and 24, and asked Americans about their attitudes during the coronavirus outbreak, including their prayer life.
There are more than 823,000 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) worldwide as of Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University, including more than 175,000 cases in the U.S. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, there were 2,860 deaths from the virus as of 4 p.m. EDT Monday.
According to the survey, 15% of those who “seldom or never pray” also say they have prayed for an end to the pandemic, and even 36% of those whose religion is “nothing in particular” say they have prayed about the virus.
In line with stay-at-home orders active in many places, the Pew survey also found fewer people are attending religious services in person; 59% of those who normally attend services at least once or twice per month said they had scaled back their attendance. But, among the same group, a similar percentage —57%—reported watching religious services online or on TV during the pandemic instead of attending services in person.
And among Catholics who attended Mass at least once or twice a month, 55% said they have attended less often during the coronavirus, and 46% said they were watching Mass online or on TV instead of attending in person.
Catholic bishops around the country began suspending public masses in March, with the Seattle archdiocese as the first to do so on March 11, followed by all other dioceses in the U.S.
As bishops have halted public Masses during the pandemic, however, they have also exhorted Catholics to deepen their own prayer lives.
Archbishop José H. Gomez, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, stated on March 13 that “[n]ow is the time to intensify our prayers and sacrifices for the love of God and the love of our neighbor,” and called on Catholics to pray in unity with Pope Francis for the sick, health care workers, and civic leaders.
Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh issued a pastoral letter on March 20 “The Other Side of Corona,” noting that the mass closures of offices and schools, mass layoffs and the suspension of public Masses as a result of the coronavirus “is an opportunity to deepen our relationship with Jesus.” He called on Catholics to pray to God for protection from the virus and for comfort for all those afflicted.
Archbishop Nelson Perez of Philadelphia asked Catholics to join Pope Francis in prayer for an end to the pandemic on March 25, the Solemnity of the Annunciation.
On March 27, Pope Francis gave an extraordinary Urbi et Orbi blessing, “to the city and the world,” from St. Peter’s Basilica during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We have an anchor: by his cross we have been saved. We have a rudder: by his cross we have been redeemed. We have a hope: by his cross we have been healed and embraced so that nothing and no one can separate us from his redeeming love,” Pope Francis said during a holy hour that included Eucharistic adoration and the blessing.