Cardinal close to Pope tests positive for virus

Cardinal Angelo De Donatis had been in touch with Francis in recent weeks — apparently not in person, however — over the cardinal’s initial decision to close all Rome churches in line with an Italian government shutdown decree.

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This handout picture released by the Vatican Media shows Pope Francis, in Rome on March 15, 2020, prays in S. Marcello al Corso church, where there is a miraculous crucifix that in 1552 was carried in a procession around Rome to stop the great plague. - The Vatican said on March 15, that its traditional Easter week celebrations would be held this year without worshippers due to the coronavirus. “Because of the current global public health emergency, all the liturgical celebrations of Holy Week will take place without the physical presence of the faithful,” the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household said in a statement.

Photo by -/VATICAN MEDIA/AFP via Getty Images

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis’ vicar for Rome has tested positive for the coronavirus in the first case of a cardinal close to the pope known to be infected.

Cardinal Angelo De Donatis had been in touch with Francis in recent weeks — apparently not in person, however — over the cardinal’s initial decision to close all Rome churches in line with an Italian government shutdown decree.

De Donatis reversed himself after Francis intervened, and allowed diocesan churches to remain open for individuals to pray.

The pope is technically bishop of Rome, but he delegates the day-to-day running of the diocese to his vicar, De Donatis, 66. The Rome church said De Donatis was in good condition at Rome’s Gemelli hospital and was receiving antiviral treatment.

The Holy See has said six people have tested positive for the virus in the Vatican, none of them the pope or his closest advisers.

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