Pope Francis expresses concern for New Yorkers amid coronavirus

CNS Photo Pope FrancisBishop DiMarzio Pope Francis greets Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn at the Vatican during the USCCB's Region II ad limina, Nov. 15, 2019. / Vatican Media.

Pope Francis phoned Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York Tuesday to express his concern for the people of New York during the coronavirus pandemic. More than 10,000 deaths in the city are being attributed to infection by the virus.

Cardinal Dolan said April 14 that Pope Francis had called him that afternoon “to express his love, concern, and closeness to all the people of New York, especially those who are sick, during the coronavirus outbreak.”

“He mentioned in a special way Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio and the people of the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens, and I happily shared the Holy Father’s words with Bishop DiMarzio immediately thereafter,” the cardinal added.

Two priests of the Diocese of Brooklyn, Fathers Jorge Ortiz-Garay and Gioacchino Basile, have died due to coronavirus, on March 27 and April 4, respectively. The Brooklyn diocese covers the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens.

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Queens commented that “On behalf of the Diocese of Brooklyn, I am humbled to have received prayers and condolences from our Holy Father, Pope Francis, on the deaths of two of our priests who have been lost to coronavirus. As we continue to mourn the loss of Father Ortiz-Garay and Father Basile, it is comforting to know Pope Francis joins with us in solidarity. We are one church, and together the people of God will get through these most difficult times.”

Cardinal Dolan wrote that Pope Francis “said that New Yorkers were in his prayers in a special way at this time.  He asked me to relay his prayerful best wishes to the sick, the doctors, nurses, EMT’s, [sic] medical professionals, and caregivers who are tending to them, our civic leaders, as well as our priests, religious, and lay people.”

He added that “I thanked the Pope for the leadership he has displayed during this global pandemic, and assured him of the love and prayers of the people of New York for him and his ministry.”

New York City’s health department said April 14 that it has counted more than 10,000 deaths due to coronavirus after deciding it is “now including people who had never tested positive for the virus but were presumed to have died because of it,” the New York Times reported.

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