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How will coronavirus affect religion? Show more Show less

Lockdown makes no exceptions for belief. In March 2020 the now iconic image of Pope Francis praying to an empty St. Peter's Square hit the headlines. For the religious, it soon became emblematic of solidarity in isolation. Mass gatherings are now out. Places of worship, prayer groups, pilgrimages, weekly rituals and door-to-door evangelism have now been outlawed in many countries. It may be many months before Covid-19 ceases to be a threat. When it does, how will it have impacted religion?

It will create a vacuum for power struggles within religious orders Show more Show less

Religious leaders are human. And humans crave power.
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A papal struggle within the Catholic Church

Rumours that Pope Benedict is conspiring against Pope Francis are everywhere.
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On March 31, it was revealed that the former Pope was secretly plotting to bring down his successor. Pope Benedict, who resigned from his post in 2013, has allegedly taken issue with Pope Francis. Francis is a known reformer, who believes in modernising the church. His views, which include the relaxing of the church's stance on contraception, are wildly unpopular with Catholic traditionalists.

The Argument

The current uncertainty brought on by coronavirus has created an opportunity for the traditionalist factions. Benedict is widely seen as the leader of these conservative groups. As Lynda Telford, author of '‘Women of the Vatican: Female Power in a Male World’ says of this tension: "I’m afraid that Pope Benedict is rather an opponent of any change. He is a very strong traditionalist and in the Vatican there are far too many of them, these backward-looking traditionalists who don’t want any kind of change."[1] With all concepts of 'normality' in a state of flux, and social structures breaking down, the moment to strike could not be better for Benedict.

Counter arguments

There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that Benedict will take this opportunity to shake the foundations of the Catholic Church. That they may not agree on all issues, is insufficient evidence that Benedict is plotting a coup against Francis.



[P1] Benedict wants to stop Francis' plans [P2] Benedict has been seeking an opportunity to exploit [P3] The coronavirus is an opportunity to exploit

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P2] There is no proof Benedict was to stop Francis' plans


Further Reading


This page was last edited on Tuesday, 31 Mar 2020 at 14:49 UTC