- The Social Representations Theory as the methodological foundation of the conducted research
Digital media play a key role in constructing the components of how coronavirus is represented. They enable the publication, exchange and circulation of various information, opinions and views in the public sphere. Texts and images related to the coronavirus can be easily found both on official websites of news portals and informal Internet forums. Since March 2020, they have been one of the most important components of daily news in Poland (providing information on the number of infected people, deaths due to COVID-19, restrictions in social life, ways of reducing the risk of infection, etc.). All this is discussed on the Internet and determines the collective and individual image of the virus. Therefore, it is worth undertaking research on the components responsible for the construction of this cognitive image, using the methodology of social representations developed by Serge Moscovici (1984, 2001).
The Social Representations Theory (hereinafter referred to as SRT) makes it possible to explain the way in which new concepts are adapted within social consciousness, and how they are construed and changed in the discursive space. Moscovoci’s main point of interest was the relation between scientific forms of knowledge and common sense knowledge, developed at various levels of social communication. In his view, representations are the basis of social relations and a tool for perceiving the world. They turn out to be a modern version of common sense, creating a network of concepts and definitions of related elements (Moscovici 2000). At the same time, it is difficult to identify them with coherent thought patterns, because, especially in the case of controversial phenomena, they often contain conflicting ideas and views.
Currently, due to the significant role of digital space in the dissemination of knowledge, research on social representations of ideas and concepts is taking on a new dimension. The Internet makes their transmission and reception – both in the public media and privately – almost universally available. Each participant of this type of communication is offered the opportunity to construct and reconstruct any fragment of reality. As a result, he/she changes or creates the image of objects and concepts as well as the way of comprehending the emerging problems (Zbróg, Zbróg 2018). In such a socio-cultural context, social representations arise as a result of complex communication relations between the authors of publications and their recipients, whose perception of given objects differs.
Coronavirus representations originated from the publication of news articles in the media. They influenced the previous representations of viruses present in the social consciousness (e.g. influenza, SARS-CoV as well as MERS-CoV). Information about the new object was either reproduced or renegotiated by content modification. In this way, knowledge about coronavirus was categorised and a specific attitude was shaped as a result of frequent contact with new knowledge and experiences of new type (e.g. Wagner 2015). A new representation is usually constructed in the process of adjusting prior knowledge (Chaib et al. 2011). It is worth mentioning that the study of the social representation of coronavirus (and any other object) cannot be confused with the study of an “ordinary” image or picture. Communication context in digital space generates various communication processes in the community of senders and receivers constructing their representations; images and texts are used, including metaphors, emotions and values embedded in the media world (Höijer 2011).
- Methods of data collection and analysis
There are numerous research methods in the methodology of identifying the resource of social representations. Usually, they are associated with socio-genetic processes that reveal the ways in which certain elements circulate, i.e. how they develop, change and coexist with each other. This approach most often concentrates on the analysis of various programs and texts available in the media (the press, radio, television, the Internet – e.g. articles, forums, chats) (Flick, Foster, Caillaud 2015 64-65).
In order to collect the corpus to be analysed in the present article, four of the most widely read Catholic magazines were selected, namely electronic versions of “Gość Niedzielny”, “Niedziela”, “Idziemy” weekly magazines and “Nasz Dziennik” daily. The collection of headings to be analysed qualitatively was excerpted by means of threading. After typing the word coronavirus (and its contextual equivalents) into the browsers of the above magazines’ websites approximately 500 articles from each of the magazines were obtained and then reviewed. The main research task was to analyse the contextual field in which the coronavirus nomination or its equivalents (e.g. korona, koronka, SARS-CoV-19) appeared, e.g.:
- Coronavirus in a parish in Zalesie Dolne. Church closed until further notice (N).
- Jasna Góra Monastery: every day at 8 p.m. an additional Holy Mass to end the coronavirus pandemic (I).
Such object placement in a contextual field is referred to as anchoring and takes place by naming an object, its features and functions, comparing it with other objects or through metaphors and antinomies. This mechanism makes it possible to identify elements of social representations (Moscovici 2000:41-52). Anchoring changes the “unknown” into the “known” by comparing it to the previous social representations in order to interpret them (e.g. by juxtaposition such as “coronavirus is flu-like” or “coronavirus is a plague and death”). Thanks to naming a new phenomenon, it can be then placed in a well-known sphere of life and culture. A metaphor is used in order to understand the essence of a new phenomenon, whereas thematic anchoring connects the “new” to certain basic patterns of cultural thinking. At the same time, objectification contributes to the fact that the “unknown” becomes the “known” through imaging or transforming it into something that can be perceived through the senses (e.g. a face mask becomes an objectification of protection against coronavirus, whereas a picture of the virus makes the object more concrete) (Höijer 2010, 2011).
Existing ways of anchoring the coronavirus in the contextual field and its objectification affect participants in the public sphere. This, in turn, implies comments containing new ways of anchoring or reproducing the existing ones. Thus, a contextual network is created in which a given unit appears. Analysis of such contexts makes it possible to characterise the social representation of coronavirus –i.e. the potential way of perceiving it.
- Components of the social representation of coronavirus from the perspective of Catholic press
Due to the article’s purpose, the research focused on those components of the SARS-CoV-19 representation that can be considered a product of Catholic discourse. The analysed periodicals contained numerous articles directly related to mainstream communication about coronavirus and vice versa some religious aspects were found in the mainstream portals. The first relation of the permeation of content between the general and religious spheres is illustrated by the following examples of headings:
- President Andrzej Duda infected with coronavirus (I);
- PM Morawiecki in Katowice: a fairly high level of coronavirus incidents in the coming days (I);
- Kraska: this week the number of beds for coronavirus patients will increase (ND);
- People who recovered from coronavirus can help those who are sick (N);
- From Saturday: new restrictions on trade, the opening of shopping malls and closure of cultural institutions due to coronavirus (N);
- COVID-19 throttles the jungle (N).
The above headings generate similar components of the social representation of coronavirus, e.g. “coronavirus is a threat to people”, “coronavirus brings death”, “a face mask and maintaining physical distance can protect people against coronavirus infection”, “restrictions in social life are necessary to limit the spread of SARS-CoV-19”.
The following examples illustrate the second relation:
On the basis of a simplified quantitative analysis, a conclusion can be drawn that religious-focused media shared approximately 60% of all information which appeared in the general media, while the latter published only 5% of news from Catholic media. What is more, such news appeared as if directly because it constituted a general component of the discourse on coronavirus (e.g. information about infections in parishes, coronavirus-related deaths of priests and bishops, restrictions on the number of people participating in religious services, postponing church celebrations).
The findings of the research are discussed below in order to provide an insight into how Catholic media used anchoring in the contextual field of coronavirus. It was the starting point for constructing the individual and/or collective representation of SARS-CoV-2.
3.1 Coronavirus and its equivalents
The most significant nomination used to describe a new virus was coronavirus. Moreover, the term SARS-CoV-19 was used in official headings:
- Regulation have been published changing the conditions for undertaking SARS-CoV-2 test (ND);
- Niedzielski: The regulation on the standard of care for patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 is already in force (N).
The abbreviated form of the full name – the colloquial korona or koronka appeared rarely
- Resistance in the time of korona (N);
- Korona does not scare many parishioners (I).
As already mentioned, the name of the disease, COVID-19, has often been misused to describe the virus:
- The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is a reminder that one of the most important systems in the body is ... (I).
Frequently, coronavirus was placed in the context of two other terms: epidemic and pandemic:
- How to protect yourself from the coronavirus epidemic? (I);
- On May 14, all religions will pray for an end to the coronavirus pandemic (GN).
The word plague, as it is known from religious language, could in some contexts be considered both the equivalent of coronavirus and the epidemic(pandemic):
- Our Lady of the plague Tuesday (I);
- The Church in times of plague (I).
In the religious press, medical nominations known from general reports were used to identify the cause of the pandemic in the following way: coronavirus (approx. 82% of headings), SARS-CoV-19 (10%), plague (2%), colloquial korona (1%) and koronka(1%). Approximately 4% of the articles used the incorrect term COVID-19.
3.2 Prayer and Christian deeds as a way to combat coronavirus
From a religious point of view, prayer was a natural context in which coronavirus was anchored. In these type of collocations, the name of the virus appeared quite often (approximately 25%). Consequently, at least several components of its representation can be distinguished.
One element would be a general conviction that “prayer can beat coronavirus” or that “prayer is a way for believers to fight coronavirus”.
- Prayer and tonic, or Tanzanian ways to fight Covid (I);
- Cardinals Burke and Sarah on the power of prayer in the face of the coronavirus pandemic (GN);
- Prayer before the Shroud of Turin for the release of humanity from the coronavirus pandemic (N);
- Rosary with the Pope for the end of the pandemic and regaining hope (GN).
The headings contained numerous appeals and calls for praying to the end of coronavirus.
- Christ is not in quarantine. The president of the US episcopate calls for prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus for the end of the coronavirus pandemic (GN);
- # Mercy. At 3p.m., pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy for the end of the pandemic (GN);
- The Pope calls for prayers for peace and the end to the pandemic in union with Our Lady of Fatima (N);
- Appeal from Jasna Góra Monastery: With supplications, let us plead with God to end coronavirus (ND).
Prayer was to help coronavirus victims who were suffering both physically and mentally:
- Spain: religious orders pray for the victims of the coronavirus pandemic (GN);
- Archbishop Gądecki: I pray for those infected with coronavirus (GN);
- The Pope prayed for those frightened by the coronavirus pandemic (I);
- Pope Francis prayed for those experiencing the consequences of the pandemic (GN).
The headings also included requests for prayers for certain people infected with coronavirus:
- Coronavirus among Capuchins. Brothers ask for prayer (N);
- Gniezno: The Primate asks for prayers for Bishop Wojtuś, infected with Covid-19 (GN).
In some contexts, prayer as the main element was used together with affective verbs:
- The Pope pleaded for an end to the pandemic (GN)
and the coronavirus was metaphorically anchored, which also added an emotional character to the headings:
- Pope Francis: We want to respond to the virus pandemic with prayer (GN);
- Lithuania: Prayer Map against Coronavirus (I);
- Prayer attack against the end of the pandemic (N).
Sometimes, instead of the nomination of prayer, its substitutes were used which included the names of specific prayers (e.g. novena, entrustment).
- Entrustment to the Divine Mercy in the face of the coronavirus pandemic (I);
- Lourdes: Novena to save the world from coronavirus (I).
Yet another variant was to pray to certain saints:
- Blessed Hanna Chrzanowska – in times of pandemic, people ask her for help (I);
- Coronavirus: Mayor of Venice entrusted the city to Mary in the face of the coronavirus pandemic (GN).
Anchoring coronavirus in contexts containing prayer was a key premise for Catholic recipients to include components of an overall message such as: “prayer as a tool to fight coronavirus”, “prayer will end the coronavirus pandemic”, “prayer helps coronavirus victims” into the resource of its social representation. Such mental constructs seem natural for believers. The heading confirmed the validity of what is obvious for a Catholic during the time of a pandemic, namely that prayer is to help us overcome the threat of coronavirus, help its victims and, consequently, with divine help will end the pandemic.
It should be noted that the anchoring of coronavirus in the context of prayer in Internet portals of a general nature occurred occasionally and even less frequently in connection with the strictly religious aspect (the last of the examples below):
- In the face of coronavirus, 40% of students pray (https://naukawpolsce.pap.pl/aktualnosci/news%2C81367%2Craport-wobec-zagrozenia-koronawirusem-40-proc-studentow-modli-sie.html; accessed: 12/11/2020);
- Coronavirus and prayer. Scientists are studying the effects of divine intervention. "A miracle may happen" (https://tech.wp.pl/koronawirus-a-modlitwa-naukowcy-badaja-efekty-boskiej-interniczego-cud-moze-sie-zdarzyc-6508234130122881a; accessed: 12/10/2020);
- The church encourages special prayers (https://kielce.wyborcza.pl/kielce/7,47262,25779701,koronawirus-kosciol-zacheca-do-specjalnej-modlitwy.html; accessed: 12/03/2020).
An invariant was the development of the context of prayer to include other religious deeds and practices of a merciful or penitential nature, performed in order to seek protection against coronavirus:
- May 14: prayer, fasting and works of mercy for the end of the epidemic (I);
- Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Franciscans fast for all people (GN);
- Mercy against the pandemic (N).
Placing coronavirus in these type of contextual fields generated social components such as “good Christian deeds can stop coronavirus” or “fasting and mercy will help defeat the virus”.
3.3 The Church supporting the fight against coronavirus
A slightly different perspective of the social representation of coronavirus, from the point of view of Catholics, was developed by those contextual fields in which the Church was presented as an institution fighting the pandemic physically. Most of all, there was information about the active participation of people of the Church in helping others – e.g. they would work in hospitals and nursing homes or assisted physicians and medical staff:
- Nuns and priest working in the nursing home in Bochnia are healthy! (I);
- Radom: Despite Covid-19, chaplains are at the beds of the sick (GN);
- Missionaries on the front lines during the coronavirus pandemic (GN).
- Examples were also given of offering financial and material aid to church institutions. Here, the role of Pope Francis was emphasised: Italian Episcopate allocated EUR 19 million to fight the pandemic (ND);
- Assistance of the papal fund to fight coronavirus continues (I);
- Pope Francis donated two respirators to Ecuador to fight the coronavirus pandemic more effectively (GN);
- Million dollar donations from the archbishop to pandemic victims (GN);
- Respirator for Milicz as part of the # WdzięczniMedykom campaign conducted by Caritas Polska against coronavirus (N).
In this context, the headings also refer to the help provided generally by the Christian community to representatives of other faiths:
- Pakistani Christians support Muslims during the pandemic (I)
and to spiritual assistance initiated by the Church:
- Coronavirus in Mexico: The Church promotes neighborhood support networks in parishes (GN).
Placing coronavirus in this type of context allowed to include components such as “The Church supports people in the fight against coronavirus”, “The Church is an institution that is helpful in overcoming the effects of the coronavirus pandemic” in its social representation. This component of the social representation is illustrated by the following affective heading and an article excerpt:
- The Church in the fight against the coronavirus. Once again the Church is equal to the task: it does not divide people into believers and non-believers; it does not ask about their views but is there when they need it (N).
3.4 Coronavirus obstructs religious practices
One of the key threats for believers was the obstruction of religious practices by coronavirus (including the temporary closing of churches, bans on religious services or reducing the number of Mass attendees):
- Vatican: for the first time in history, an 'Angelus' Sunday without the participation of the faithful because of the coronavirus (GN);
- Italy: the faithful excluded from Holy Mass - coronavirus (I).
There were warnings that in some places around the world coronavirus could even cause permanent closure of churches:
- Coronavirus as an excuse to close churches after the pandemic? (I).
Coronavirus became a threat to religious rituals:
- What about First Communions? General Curia issues announcements regarding the organisation of the First Holy Communions during the pandemic (I).
In the initial stage of SARS-CoV-2, both clergy and lay people, despite threats reported in the media, expressed their concern and protest against restrictions regarding the organisation of religious practices:
- Andrea Riccardi criticises church closures due to coronavirus (I);
- Archbishop Depo opposes church closings due to coronavirus (I).
The above ways of anchoring coronavirus created in its resource of social representations provide a clear message that it “hinders religious practices in almost every dimension”. However, the strict order to apply sanitary recommendations raised doubts and protests. In this case, one can speak about the rare polemic nature of the opinions of members of the Catholic community. Thus, an additional component of this representation can be distinguished: “the coronavirus pandemic must not prevent the cultivation of traditional forms of religious practice”. This last component complemented the representations of extreme and conservative Catholics with many believing absence during a Sunday Mass is a sin. At the same time, this raised a particular issue as to whether, if religious practices were relaxed, it would be more difficult to continue them after the pandemic was over. For this reason, the following calls could be heard:
- President of the Episcopate: the pandemic cannot stop us from participating in Holy Mass. (I);
- Let us not isolate ourselves from God during the Coronavirus (N).
Permitting absence from Mass during the threat of coronavirus was signalled in numerous collocations by the nomination of dispensation – a special permission from the Church not to perform certain religious practices:
- Dispensation in the Tarnów diocese in connection with coronavirus (GN);
- Archbishop Budzik grants dispensation not to attend Mass due to the epidemic (N);
- Decree on the dispensation of Bishop Marek Mendyk in connection with the growing number of people infected with the coronavirus (N).
It seems that dispensation, usually quite rarely applied and probably not fully understood by many of the faithful, was included into the lexical resource of Catholics as a synonym for justifying absence during Mass; it thus developed their resource of social representation of coronavirus which “exempts them from this obligation”.
A lot controversy – both among the faithful and the clergy – was raised in connection with the reception of Holy Communion during the pandemic into the hand instead of the mouth (both forms are acceptable by the Church). The headings anchored coronavirus also in this context:
- First Communion only in the hand and the use of holy water is forbidden. The Church in Hong Kong has issued new regulations to prevent and protect churches and parishes from coronavirus (GN);
- Liturgical Commission of the Episcopate: Communion in the hand is not a profanation! (GN).
This provoked controversial judgements in the context of campaigns against allowing Holy Communion in the hand, and this criticism prevailed in official messages and commentaries of Church officials:
- God does not detest my hands. The campaign "Stop Holy Communion in the hand" led by the Piotr Skarga Christian Culture Association and the websites supporting it is harmful, manipulative and confuses the minds of the faithful (I);
- The controversial campaign “'STOP Holy Communion in the hand'. It is impossible to desecrate Holy Communion unknowingly, and the tongue is just as worthy as the hands to receive it. Stop the fake news in the field of theology! - writes a secular philosopher involved in the life of the Church (https://deon.pl/kosciol/kontrowersjska-akcja-stop-komunii-swietej-na-reke-sa-pierwsze-komarzenia,1006332; accessed on 12/10/2020).
The entire discussion moved to general Internet portals,
- Billboards in Rzeszów: "Stop Holy Communion in the hand!". Who is behind it: those who deny the pandemic or ultra-Catholic? (https://rzeszow.wyborcza.pl/rzeszow/7,34962,26397970,stop-komunii-swietej-na-reke-grzmi-napis-na-billboardach.html; accessed: 12/10/ 2020);
as well as other areas of the Internet. The following heading illustrates the standing of both parties:
- First Communion in the hand – rescue from the “coronavirus pandemic” or the defeat of the Church? (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3V7E0w0m0xo; accessed: 12/10/2020).
The above fields, where coronavirus was located, made it possible to create the following associations: coronavirus is “an excuse for absence during obligatory Mass as stated in the dispensation”, “prevents the fulfilment of duties by the faithful”, “is an understandable reason for cancelling even the most important religious events”, “allows to make changes in traditional rituals, such as receiving Holy Communion in the hand”.
In the context of religious practices, the way of participating in them and celebrating them in the times of coronavirus has led to the formation of contradictory opinions among Church officials, especially at the beginning of the pandemic, and those of the faithful who opposed the liberalisation of canon regulations. Currently, however, prohibitions and restrictions are rarely questioned because of the large number of the clergy and lay people infected with SARS-CoV-2 during religious practices. These experiences led to the inclusion of the Catholic clergy into a group of those encouraging compliance with the rules protecting against coronavirus infection:
- Call of the President of the Polish Episcopal Conference for compliance with sanitary recommendations during the coronavirus pandemic (I).
3.5 Living as Christians in times of trial
Important metaphysical questions were anchored in articles’ headings in connection with the pandemic. They concerned selected aspects of the spiritual life of believers, such as, for example, the stability of faith in the face of death or ways of dealing with misfortunes caused by the pandemic. Some of the main associations occurring in the contextual fields are listed below: The coronavirus pandemic:
a) is a trial of faith for Catholics and the need to follow Christ:
- The pandemic is for us an examination in faith (I);
- Deputy-Rector of John Paul II University: during the pandemic, Christians follow the Good Shepherd (N);
- Religion is needed when coronavirus attacks (N).
b) Reveals the weak foundations of worldly life:
- Bishop Kamiński: the coronavirus pandemic reveals the fragility of life and temporal security (I);
c) Encourages us to submit to God’s will:
- Fr professor Pawlina: maybe the present time is the time of humility for all of us (GN);
d) Should make a Catholic accept suffering:
- Archbishop Gądecki: the pandemic reminds us of the gospel of suffering (N);
- People who suffer with Christ, including those affected by the pandemic, are writing a great chapter of the gospel of suffering (N).
There were also some questions whether coronavirus was “God’s punishment”:
- The pandemic continues. Have we been punished? (N);
- The question must be asked: What is the significance of the virus pandemic from the perspective of God's will? (N);
- Coronavirus Outbreak - God's Punishment? (I);
- Is coronavirus a punishment from God? (ND);
- Coronavirus as a punishment for sins? Salesians explain (GN).
The above examples of coronavirus placement emerged in various individual contexts. They might be generally summed up with phrases like: “a pandemic is a kind of trial for believers” or “coronavirus is a catalyst for difficult questions about the foundations of faith”. The only thematic regularity was related to the question “Is coronavirus an act of God?”. The question mark at the end of the sentence would indicate the fear of stating such a fact directly, as illustrated in the following excerpt:
- What does the Father answer to those who ask about the coronavirus pandemic? That this is God's punishment, God's act. Or maybe it is better not to involve God in it (I).
3.6 Coronavirus leads to new ways of communication in the Church
An interesting aspect of the pandemic was the acceptance by the clergy and believers of religious practices in digital media. Coronavirus was often anchored in the fields related to online communication:
- The Church in the face of a pandemic - on-line prayer (I);
- Online adoration in a time of pandemic? Fr. Jacek Grzybowski (I);
- Is adoration of the Blessed Sacrament possible online through live broadcast? (GN);
- Pandemic-induced isolation is to help use digital media (N);
- Online Easter Without Borders during Coronavirus (I);
- On-line youth retreat. The prevailing coronavirus pandemic will not prevent young people from participating in the May retreat! (N).
Therefore, the social representation of coronavirus should include the following components: “the coronavirus pandemic digitises the universal Church”, “coronavirus dynamically develops the reach of prayer including digital space”.
3.7 Coronavirus as an invitation for change
In addition to the dilemmas, fears and anxieties described above, many coronavirus headings were associated with unpleasant phenomena that favour a change for the better. The virus was placed in the contexts of chance, hope and benefit:
- Pope Francis: Struggling with Coronavirus as a Chance to End Injustice (I);
- The Pope in an interview for “The Tablet”: let us not waste the present chance for conversion (GN);
- Let us straighten our paths. How to take advantage of the current Covid-19 pandemic? (N);
- Blessed crisis? How to take advantage of the pandemic (N);
- Chaldean Patriarch: the Coronavirus pandemic “a chance for awakening” for humanity (GN).
Some positive changes were seen as the result of the pandemic:
- Cardinal Krajewski: Coronavirus makes us support life (GN);
- New vocations as a result of the epidemic? Interview by Anna Bandura (N).
Hopes were also expressed to deepen one's faith during the pandemic:
- Bishop Kamiński: May the difficult time of the pandemic strengthen our faith (I).
The social representation of coronavirus was thus expanded to include positive aspects such as: “the pandemic is a hope for change for the better”, “coronavirus is an opportunity to change the modern world”. In the whole negative picture of SARS-CoV-2, it was a truly Christian view, illustrated with an almost oxymoronic expression of the blessed crisis.
3.8 Objectification as a source of components of social representations of coronavirus
Moscovici (2000:51) argued that objectification makes it possible to materialise ideas, phenomena and objects as images. Coronavirus, as an entity which exists in reality but remains imperceptible and invisible to the naked eye, was presented in the form of magnified microscopic photographs. Thanks to them, its effects were visualised, which in turn widened the contextual field of its social representation.
In general Internet portals, the key image illustrating the pandemic included a person wearing a face mask. Sometimes, hand sanitisers were used to illustrate the need to protect oneself against infection. The hope of inventing a vaccine against coronavirus was visualised by a picture of a scientist working in a laboratory, using a microscope and syringe.
In the religious press, there were photographs featuring a clergyman wearing a face mask or a visor or protective gear.
Very often, information about the effects of coronavirus was accompanied by photographs of empty churches, whereas what was related to the question of faith and prayers for the end of the pandemic was illustrated with photographs of praying people or Catholic attributes: the cross, prayer books or the rosary.
The conclusion can be drawn that objectification in the religious press developed the following components of the social representation of coronavirus: “rules of protection against coronavirus apply to all”, “prayer in the hope of salvation from the pandemic”, “coronavirus restricts religious practice”.
 According to Wirtualne Media, the weekly "Gość Niedzielny" was the top-selling weekly in Poland in the years 2018–2019 - an average of 110 thousand copies (https://www.wirtualnemedia.pl/artykul/ Sprzedaż-tygodnikow-opinii-i-iii-kwartal-2019-gazeta-polska; accessed: 23/09/2020). It is included in the so-called opinion-forming weeklies. The other Catholic magazines are not so popular. However, the importance of ‘Gość Niedzielny’ allows us to state that the influence of the Catholic press on the opinions and judgments of Poles, and therefore also the social representations of various objects, is significant.
 Due to the volume limitations, the quoted titles were abbreviated to one of the four analyzed periodicals. Their locations are presented at the end of the article. Digital addresses were given only for titles from other portals.
 This was indicated in articles in the Catholic press, e.g. How does coronavirus affect Polish religiosity? It is not yet known how long the restriction of public worship will be a fact. Regardless of this, the question now arises as to whether the continuation of the epidemic threat and refraining from participating in the Sunday Mass will have a lasting impact on religious practices after the threat has passed - this is one of the questions posed in the analysis of the Institute of Statistics of the Catholic Church on the impact of the coronavirus on Polish religiosity (GN).