Coronavirus-driven digitalization of in-person communities. Analysis of the Catholic Church online response in Spain during the pandemic

Alba Sabaté Gauxachs, José María Albalad Aiguabella, Miriam Diez Bosch

Research output: Indexed journal article Articlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

COVID-19 has driven several global offline communities to go online. Restrictions to the free movement of people in response to the coronavirus pandemic triggered a profound rethinking of jobs, products and services, and among them, the activities of religious communities, which are well consolidated in the offline sphere. In Spain, since the lockdown established by the government in March 2020, the Catholic Church has reinvented its activity, as all the churches and other places of worship have been closed. This constituted a considerable challenge, considering the history and dynamics of the institution. This paper aims to analyze how Catholicism, as one of the most consolidated offline communities, reworked its communication, going online in a matter of days. With this objective, researchers surveyed each and every one of the 70 Spanish dioceses, taking them as representatives of the global Catholic community in the country. Their responses are complemented with an in-depth interview with the Director of Communications at the Spanish Conference of Bishops. The results highlight the huge and unprecedented step towards the digitalization of the community through consistent, creative and efficient action. New methods, platforms and languages have been implemented, even broadening community membership. Despite an offline essence that is still detected in some decisions, this pandemic has brought a new communicative paradigm to the Spanish Catholic community. Digitalization has been consolidated whilst preserving the best aspects of direct contact and action.

Original languageEnglish
Article number311
Number of pages17
JournalReligions
Volume12
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2021

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Catholicism
  • Church
  • Coronavirus
  • Digital religion
  • Online religion
  • Pandemic
  • Spain

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