A Polish cardinal and another Italian, both very close to Pope Francis, have coronavirus, official Vatican sources confirmed Tuesday, which also announced that the high pontiff will not appear in public for his traditional Christmas message.
Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, chaplain responsible for the pope's charitable works, tested "positive for covid-19," Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni confirmed Tuesday.
The religious, 57, had symptoms of pneumonia and is admitted to a hospital in Rome, these sources added. The Holy See is verifying who he was in contact with in recent days.
Nicknamed the “Robin Hood” of the pope, for his works on behalf of the most disadvantaged, this cardinal often meets with him.
The other cardinal who tested positive is the Italian Giuseppe Bertello, 78, president of the government of the Vatican City State, a role that makes him exercise executive power in this tiny state on behalf of the pope.
His diagnosis was published by the Italian press and confirmed to AFP by a source close to the Holy See.
Francisco holds numerous private meetings at the residence in Santa Marta, where he lives. At 84, he has rarely been seen wearing a mask. On Monday, when he presented his wishes for the new year to the 4.000 Vatican workers and their families, the pope couldn't help but get close to the participants and even took a baby in his arms.
Francisco is a person considered at risk. At age 21, in 1957, part of her right lung had to be removed due to an infection, according to her biographer, Austen Ivereigh.
The Vatican has not given details on when the pope could receive the covid-19 vaccine. The vaccination campaign in the Vatican will begin in early 2021.
Faced with the tightening of confinement measures in Italy, from December 24 to January 6, the Holy See decided that Francis will not appear in public on Christmas Day, when he traditionally gives his message from the loggia of St. Peter's Basilica, followed by the blessing "Urbi et Orbi".
The pope will be filmed on December 25 inside the apostolic palace, in an effort to discourage the faithful who want to travel to St. Peter's Square.
Another five messages that the pope usually gives during the Christmas holidays will take place from the private library, also inside the apostolic palace.
During the first confinement in Italy, Francisco was also forced to take shelter in his library on Sundays during the Angelus prayer, but then he used to briefly lean out of a window to greet St. Peter's Square, which appeared empty.
The Christmas Eve mass was already advanced at 19:30 p.m. (18:30 p.m. GMT). It will be held before a small audience, so that the faithful can return home before the curfew of 22H00 (21H00 GMT) in Italy.