The Italian clergy are paying a heavy price for the coronavirus epidemic. According to a report provided Wednesday, March 25 by the newspaper of the Italian episcopal conference Avvenire, sixty-nine priests contaminated with Covid-19 died since the start of the epidemic in Italy.
The daily newspaper, which publishes the names of the priests, most of them elderly, and sometimes their photos, still mentioned the day before a total of 50 dead. The last two deaths were reported by the dioceses of Cremona (south-east of Milan in Lombardy) and La Spezia (a port city of Liguria, south of Genoa).
“Priests get sick and die like the rest, maybe even more than the rest, even if it is currently very difficult to venture into this type of statistical accounting”, writes Avvenire.
The Pope had called them to “go out to see the sick”
Two weeks ago, Pope Francis asked the priests to “have the courage to go out and see” the sick. The request came on March 10, when the government demanded that Italians limit their travel and avoid contact with victims of the coronavirus.
A total of 22 priests – including a bishop – died in the diocese of Bergamo (Lombardy), the most affected city in Italy. They were aged 59 to 91. Among them, Father Fausto Resmini, 67, had been prison chaplain for almost thirty years.
Three priests aged 79 to 86 lost their lives in Brescia (Lombardy), another major home. The diocese of Milan (Lombardy) reports six deaths, just like that of Parma, in Emilia-Romagna. The same results apply to Cremona, where a 104-year-old priest died.
Dozens of other contaminations
The youngest to have died, Father Alessandro Brignone, 45, was also the very first in southern Italy, in the diocese of Salerno (in Campania, south of Naples). In the diocese of Piacenza-Bobbio (Emilia-Romagna), 87-year-old twins, fathers Mario and Giovanni Boselli, lost their lives a few days apart.
The newspaper of the episcopate reports that ddozens of other priests are currently infected, including some in serious condition. This assessment of 69 dead priests does not include men and women religious and missionaries. Avvenire give the names of seven of those who were killed by the pandemic.