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  • May 2020 : Coronavirus and religious life in Switzerland

In Switzerland, the Covid-19 pandemic brought about a variety of changes in religious and spiritual life. For two months, places of worship had to close their doors, fostering variations on traditional practices and the emergence of new interpretations.

In the Catholic church, for example, it is usually extremely rare for women to speak during religious services. However, due to the impossibility of attending celebrations and the absence of a priest, certain ceremonies such as the Eucharist were an opportunity for innovation and gave women the chance to take the floor.

Religious ceremonies, across all denominations, were mostly cancelled for several months before being able to resume subject to conditions on 28 May. In contrast, funerals were allowed but with only families in attendance. These restrictions have led to adjustments and creative solutions to support bereaved families.

The health crisis has also given rise to various interpretations of the world, the individual and the virus. The Intercantonal Centre for Information on Beliefs asserts that currents such as televangelists or Jehovah’s Witnesses rely on apocalyptic interpretation and associate the virus with divine punishment that purportedly confirms biblical writings. Meanwhile, New-Age and neo-shamanic spiritual circles interpret the virus differently, with humanity being perceived as “an enormous coronavirus for the planet”.

D 11 octobre 2022    ANatalie Aberer

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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