Is COVID-19 a virtuous virus? The question deserves to be asked in the light of statistics which have just been published by the Center for Opinion Research (CEO). If in February 2020, on the eve of the first wave of the epidemic, 54.2% of Catalans declared themselves Catholic, ten months later, the proportion has climbed to 59.9%.
The statistics provided by the Center for Opinion Studies (CEO) relayed by the Spanish news agency SIC on January 26, 2021, show a growth in the number of Catalan Catholics, which continued throughout the past year. This corresponds to an increase of 5.7%, according to the pollster.
Thus, at the end of December 2020, at the close of the survey, 4.6 million Catalans had declared themselves to be Catholic: a figure not seen for many years.
The Cardinal Archbishop of Barcelona, Msgr. Juan Jose Omella, was quick to comment on the statistics: “in the face of uncertainties and fears, many people are starting to think about the hereafter, and the Catholic formation that we have received helps us find a little more light and hope. These experiences, I think, contribute in many cases to rediscover the faith,” declared the high prelate.
The CEO's data also make it possible to specify the parts of Catalonia where the variation in the number of Catholics was felt the most: in absolute value, it is in Barcelona that the increase is most palpable (182,000), followed by Girona (133,000), Tarragona (67,000), and Lleida (57,000).
If one looks at the proportions, the highest growth rate is seen in Girona, with 17.4% more Catalan Catholics compared to the figures for February 2020.
Is it a coincidence? After the community of Madrid, Catalonia is the region of Spain that is paying the heaviest price for the Covid-19 epidemic.
According to official statistics dated January 25, 2021, the province has totaled, since February 2020, 473,259 proven cases and 9,266 deaths: enough to stir hearts, and make them more docile to grace.
We can only rejoice at these figures, but above all hope - which it is not possible to see from the data provided by the CEO - that they result in a real return to an authentic religious practice that does not forgo neither prayer nor the sacraments.