Two Cardinals Close to Pope Francis Test Positive For Covid-19

Published December 23rd, 2020 - 08:55 GMT
Pope Francis, flanked by Monsignor Leonardo Sapienza (L) and Monsignor Luis Maria Rodrigo Ewart (R), attends an audience to deliver his Christmas greetings to the employees of the Vatican, on December 21, 2020 at Paul-VI hall at The Vatican. Vincenzo PINTO / AFP
Pope Francis, flanked by Monsignor Leonardo Sapienza (L) and Monsignor Luis Maria Rodrigo Ewart (R), attends an audience to deliver his Christmas greetings to the employees of the Vatican, on December 21, 2020 at Paul-VI hall at The Vatican. Vincenzo PINTO / AFP
Highlights
The 84-year-old, known for his love of getting close to the faithful, has rarely been seen wearing a mask since the virus first shook Italy in February.   

Two cardinals close to Pope Francis have tested positive for Covid-19, a day after the pontiff exchanged Christmas greetings with senior staff, a Vatican source said today. 

Polish cardinal Konrad Krajewski, who manages the Pope's charities and has the title of the Vatican's almoner, 'tested positive for Covid-19', Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said.     

The 57-year-old, known as the Pope's 'Robin Hood' for his work with the poor and the homeless, had symptoms of pneumonia and is being treated at a hospital in Rome. 

Officials are still seeking to identify his recent contacts, but he is known to meet with the Pope regularly. 

Italian cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, 78, the governor of Vatican City, tested positive and is believed to be in self-isolation in his home in the Vatican, the source said.

It was not immediately clear if either or both attended an event on Monday at which members of the Vatican's central administration, known as the Curia, exchanged Christmas greetings with the pope. 

During the event, the Pope, who has faced controversy over his reluctance to wear a mask, appeared without one again. Despite this the pontiff was pictured holding a baby during the celebration. 

The 84-year-old, known for his love of getting close to the faithful, has rarely been seen wearing a mask since the virus first shook Italy in February.   

Italy, the first Western country hit by the virus, has seen 69,214 Covid-19 fatalities since its outbreak emerged in February, the highest toll in Europe and the fifth-highest in the world. It has also registered some 1.96 million cases to date.

In September, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, a Filipino who heads the Vatican's missionary arm, tested positive and went into isolation but is believed to be in good heath now.

During the first wave of the pandemic last spring, more than a dozen Swiss Guard tested positive as well as a person who lived in the same guest house where the Pope resides.

Andrea Arcangeli, the head of the Vatican's health services, said earlier this month that the city-state will start vaccinated residents and staff members early in the new year. 

The pontiff is considered particularly at risk of complications if he contracts coronavirus, both because of his age and his history of lung problems.

He almost died when he was 21 after developing pleurisy, and had part of one of his lungs removed, according to biographer Austen Ivereigh.

In a recent book, 'Let Us Dream', the Pope described how the experience gave him an insight into how coronavirus victims felt.

It was 1957, and he was in his second year of training for the priesthood in Buenos Aires, when he got taken to hospital fighting for his life.

'I have some sense of how people with coronavirus feel as they struggle to breathe on ventilators,' the pontiff wrote. 

This article has been adapted from its original source.


© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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