.- Italian dioceses surrounding Milan have reported the deaths of 30 priests during the coronavirus outbreak.
Avvenire, the Italian newspaper owned by the Italian bishops conference, attributes at least 28 of these priests’ deaths to COVID-19, and also notes two additional cases: that of Fr. Guido Mortari, who died of pneumonia before he could get tested, and Fr. Giorgio Bosini, who had a serious underlying medical condition.
All but three of the priests were over the age of 70, and more than half were over 80 years old. The youngest priest to die from coronavirus, Fr. Andrea Avanzini of the Diocese of Parma, was 54 years old.
Eleven of the deceased priests come from the Diocese of Bergamo, where at least 15 other priests have been hospitalized, according to the local bishop
Pope Francis called the bishop of Bergamo on March 18 to express his closeness to the many who are suffering in the diocese.
“Pope Francis has promised that he will carry us in his heart and in his daily prayers,” Bishop Francesco Beschi of Bergamo told his diocese in a video message following the phone call.
“The Holy Father was very affectionate, showing his paternal closeness to me, to the priests, to the sick, to those who care for them and to our whole community. He wanted to ask for details on the situation that Bergamo is experiencing, on which he was very informed,” the bishop said.
“In particular, he asked me to bring his closeness to the sick and to all those who in different ways are doing heroically for the good of others: doctors, nurses, civil and health authorities, law enforcement,” he added. CNA