Top Italian prelate with COVID-19 takes a turn for the worse

Top Italian prelate with COVID-19 takes a turn for the worse

Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, president of the Italian bishops' conference, is pictured next to Pope Francis during prayer at the opening of the annual spring meeting of the Italian bishops' conference at the Vatican May 20, 2019. Bassetti asked his fellow bishops May 21 to encourage their faithful to vote in the upcoming election for members of the European Parliament. (Credit: Paul Haring/CNS.)

After spending several days in the ICU in hospital in Perugia due to complications with the COVID-19 coronavirus, Italian Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, leader of his national bishops’ conference, has taken a turn for the worst.

ROME – After spending several days in the intensive care unit of a hospital in Perugia due to complications from the COVID-19 coronavirus, Italian Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, leader of his national bishops’ conference, has taken a turn for the worse.

According to a Nov. 9 statement from Saint Mary of Mercy hospital, in the hours prior to the statement’s release there was an “overall worsening” of Basetti’s clinical status. According to the hospital, “Diagnostic tests and all necessary treatments are underway.”

The president of the Italian bishops’ conference and Archbishop of Perugia, Bassetti tested positive for the coronavirus in late October and was admitted to the Saint Mary of Mercy hospital, where he has been receiving treatment.

A Nov. 1 bulletin from the hospital said Bassetti was suffering from bilateral pneumonia and resulting respiratory failure due to COVID-19, requiring him to receive “high levels of oxygen.”

A change in his vital signs during the night between Nov. 2 and Nov. 3 landed him in the ICU, where he remained without significant changes to his condition until Monday, when things began to look bleaker.

Bassetti, a trusted Francis-appointee, is one of several cardinals to be diagnosed with the coronavirus since it first broke out last year.

Others include Italian Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, vicar of Rome, who received treatment and recovered; Cardinal Philippe Ouédraogo, Archbishop of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso and president of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), who received medical treatment and recovered; and Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, head of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, who was asymptomatic.

Archbishop Mario Delpini of Milan has also tested positive but is asymptomatic and is currently in quarantine. Similarly, Perugia Auxiliary Bishop Marco Salvi is also asymptomatically positive for COVID-19 and is in self-isolation.

In a statement Monday, Bishop Stefano Russo, secretary of the Italian bishops’ conference (CEI), said the conference is accompanying Bassetti “with affection and closeness.”

He urged churches throughout the country to pray for Bassetti “in this time of trial,” voicing confidence that “the Lord will not withhold mercy and consolation to the cardinal and to those who are severely tried by this illness.”

Offering praise to doctors, healthcare workers, and those who care for the suffering, Russo asked Catholics throughout the country “to pray for these intentions in their moments of daily prayer.”

The Diocese of Perugia is currently in the middle of a novena for Bassetti and all those sick with the coronavirus, which began Nov. 3 and is being prayed over a span of 9 days in front of the image of Our Lady of Grace, a beloved Perugian icon, in the cathedral of San Lorenzo.

Italy recently declared five more regions as “orange zones,” meaning they will be placed in a partial lockdown in a bid to control the coronavirus outbreak, which Italy’s health minister recently said is “out of control.”

Italy recently issued a new wave of restrictions, largely regional, to curb the country’s rising infection rates, with 28,244 new cases and 353 additional deaths recorded Tuesday.

Follow Elise Ann Allen on Twitter: @eliseannallen

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