Vatican City, Nov 12, 2020 / 07:30 am
Pope Francis made a phone call this week to check in on an Italian cardinal who is in a serious condition as he battles COVID-19 after more than a week in intensive care.
Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, president of the Italian bishops’ conference and archbishop of Perugia, was hospitalized Oct. 31 after testing positive for the coronavirus.
The 78-year-old cardinal, who was moved to intensive care on Nov. 3, is reportedly in critical condition, having taken a turn for the worse this week.
His archdiocese has asked for prayers for him and those responsible for his care at Santa Maria della Misericordia Hospital in Perugia.
Pope Francis called Bishop Marco Salvi, the auxiliary bishop of Perugia, on the evening of Nov. 10, to ask how Bassetti was faring, according to a diocesan newspaper. La Voce reported that Pope Francis encouraged Bassetti and Salvi, who is also positive for the coronavirus but asymptomatic, to “be strong, be strong, be strong.”
The auxiliary bishop told Vatican News that the pope also assured him of his prayers and asked him to share his message with Bassetti.
According to an update from the hospital Nov. 9, Cardinal Bassetti’s “overall clinical picture” was worsening. He is receiving medical therapies, oxygen therapy, and non-invasive ventilatory support.
“The diocesan community is enduring the grave health conditions of its Pastor with apprehension and is constantly gathered in prayer, as parish, religious and contemplative communities and as lay groups and movements,” a Nov. 9 statement from the archdiocese said.