Vatican City | Two cardinals who are part of Pope Francis’ close guard, a Polish and an Italian, have contracted COVID-19, again raising questions about the protection of the pope, 84 years old and who rarely wears a mask.
Polish Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the chaplain responsible for the Pope’s charities, has “tested positive for COVID-19,” Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said on Tuesday.
Suffering from symptoms of pneumonia, the 57-year-old prelate is currently under surveillance in a hospital in Rome, adds the Holy See, which is checking with whom he may have been in contact in recent days.
Nicknamed the “Robin Hood” of the Pope, for his highly visible actions with the destitute and the homeless, the Pole regularly meets Pope Francis.
The other cardinal is the Italian Giuseppe Bertello, 78, who holds the post of president of the Governorate of the State of Vatican City, exercising on behalf of the pope the executive power of the tiny state. The information on his positivity revealed by the Italian press was confirmed to AFP by a source close to the Holy See.
If the official meetings of the Pope with senior officials of the Holy See are communicated daily, Francis also has many private meetings in the Santa Marta hotel residence where he lives.
François has shown himself on very rare occasions wearing a surgical protective mask. On Monday, on the occasion of greetings to some 4,000 Vatican employees and their families, the Argentine Pope could not help but approach the front row of participants to take a baby in his arms.
No message at Place Saint-Pierre
The Pope is considered a person at risk. At the age of 21, in 1957, Jorge Bergoglio suffered from acute pleurisy and surgeons had to partially remove his right lung, details his biographer Austen Ivereigh.
The Vatican has not yet indicated when the Pope could benefit from a vaccine against COVID-19.
The Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine campaign will begin in early 2021 with residents and employees of Vatican City, according to Vatican media.
The Vatican urged Catholics to get vaccinated on Monday, explaining that all vaccines developed are “morally acceptable,” including those produced from “cell lines” reproduced from stem cells of aborted fetuses in the last century, which questioned vaccination for some Catholics.
Given the fairly strict containment measures announced by Italy from December 24 and until January 6, the Vatican clarified on Tuesday that the Pope will not appear in public on Christmas Day, from the loggia of the Basilica Saint-Pierre, for his traditional message followed by the “Urbi et Orbi” blessing.
In order to discourage the faithful from going to St. Peter’s Square, it will be filmed on December 25 inside the Apostolic Palace.
In addition, five other messages from the Pope planned during the holidays from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square will eventually take place from his private library, also inside the Apostolic Palace.
During Italy’s first confinement, Francis had been confined to his library on Sundays for the Angelus prayer, but he then often appeared briefly at a window to greet a nearly empty St. Peter’s Square.
The Holy See had already brought forward Mass on Christmas Eve to 7:30 p.m. It will be celebrated by the Pope in front of a small audience, who will thus be able to return home before the 10 p.m. curfew imposed by Italy.