At least 60 Italian priests have died after contracting coronavirus
Rome, Italy, Mar 23, 2020 / 10:07 am (CNA).- In the past week alone, more than 3,000 people have died in Italy after contracting the coronavirus. Among the dead are at least 60 priests this month, according to local media reports.
“I pray to the Holy Spirit to give us the gift of light and strength. Everyday I do the Via Crucis asking the Lord … to carry this cross with us,” Bishop Gianni Ambrosio of Piacenza-Bobbio said in an Italian interview.
Avvenire, the newspaper owned by the Italian bishops conference, published the names of 51 diocesan priests who died after contracting COVID-19, and noted that religious communities in Italy had also reported nine coronavirus related deaths.
The majority of the deceased were over the age of 70 years old, and some of these priests had underlying health conditions.
The youngest priest to die from COVID-19 in Italy was Fr. Paolo Camminati, who died in the hospital on March 21 at age 53.
“It is a tough trial. We are dismayed. We feel great suffering,” Bishop Ambrosio told Avvenire.
“It is a darkness that we must face, but with the hope that God never abandons us, that he himself has gone through all the suffering to overcome it,” the bishop added.
Bishop Antonio Napolioni of Cremona has recovered after being hospitalized for 10 days with severe respiratory symptoms after contracting COVID-19. He returned to his home March 16.
“I experienced minute by minute the dramatic crescendo of problems in the situation and the workload on doctors, nurses and all the staff,” Bishop Napolioni recalled of his time in the hospital.
“It is an absurd Lent,” he said. “But in a certain sense perfect. Jesus is in the desert for forty days, fighting with the devil. Lent is not about the beauty of custom, but the profound mystery of the evil, death and despair that exist. But also of the Lord who is there. We must recognize His presence.”