Pope Francis does not have Covid-19 but a sixth Vatican employee has tested positive, spokesman says

Pope Francis leads a prayer service in an empty St. Peter's Square at the Vatican March 27, 2020. (CNS photo/Vatican Media) 

The Vatican spokesman today confirmed that Pope Francis and his closest collaborators do not have Covid-19, but a sixth employee in the city-state has tested positive, following tests carried out “on more than 170 employees of the Holy See and residents at the Santa Marta guesthouse,” where Pope Francis lives.

The news came in a statement from the director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, sent to journalists accredited to the Holy See just before 5 p.m. (Rome time) on March 28.


The Vatican spokesman also confirmed the news, published by America and some Italian media on March 25, that “an official of the Secretariat of State” who lives in Santa Marta had tested positive for the virus “in the past days” and is following protocols issued by the Health and Hygiene directorate of the city-state in relation to the coronavirus emergency. He said the official “presented some symptoms and was put in ‘isolation.’” According to the statement, the official is not in critical condition at present.

Pope Francis and his closest collaborators do not have Covid-19, but a sixth employee has tested positive, following tests carried out “on more than 170 employees of the Holy See.”

[Explore all of America’s in-depth coverage of the coronavirus pandemic]

“Nevertheless as a precautionary measure,” the spokesman said, “he was hospitalized in a Roman hospital and is under observation and in close contact with the Health and Hygiene directorate.”

Mr. Bruni revealed that following this positive test—the fifth confirmed case of Covid-19 at the Vatican this month—“the measures envisaged by the health protocols” of the Vatican City State “were taken, regarding the disinfecting of the areas at the place of work and residence of the person in question, as well as the reconstructing of the contacts he had in the days prior to the test.”

Consequently, he said, the Vatican health authorities “carried out tests on the persons closest to the one identified as positive.” The results of those new tests “confirmed the absence of other positive cases among those who reside at the Santa Marta guesthouse,” but they confirmed “one other positive case among the employees of the Holy See that were in close contact with the official.”

As a result of this new positive case, the Vatican spokesman said that “as a precautionary measure...the opportune measures of disinfecting” were carried out, “and new tests were conducted.” This means that “in addition to the earlier tests, a total of more than 170 tests were carried out on employees of the Holy See and on the residents at Santa Marta guesthouse.”

Mr. Bruni confirmed that “these last tests have all given a negative result” and added that “the persons affected by Covid-19 among the employees of the Holy See and the citizens of the Vatican City State are currently six.”

The Vatican spokesman concluded his statement saying, “I can confirm that neither the Holy Father, nor any of his closest collaborators are involved.”

Mr. Bruni did not state specifically that the pope and his closest collaborators had been tested and the result was negative, but sources (who wished to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter) told America it would be reasonable to conclude that they had.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

We don’t have comments turned on everywhere anymore. We have recently relaunched the commenting experience at America and are aiming for a more focused commenting experience with better moderation by opening comments on a select number of articles each day.

But we still want your feedback. You can join the conversation about this article with us in social media on Twitter or Facebook, or in one of our Facebook discussion groups for various topics.

Or send us feedback on this article with one of the options below:

We welcome and read all letters to the editor but, due to the volume received, cannot guarantee a response.

In order to be considered for publication, letters should be brief (around 200 words or less) and include the author’s name and geographic location. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

We open comments only on select articles so that we can provide a focused and well-moderated discussion on interesting topics. If you think this article provides the opportunity for such a discussion, please let us know what you'd like to talk about, or what interesting question you think readers might want to respond to.

If we decide to open comments on this article, we will email you to let you know.

If you have a message for the author, we will do our best to pass it along. Note that if the article is from a wire service such as Catholic News Service, Religion News Service, or the Associated Press, we will not have direct contact information for the author. We cannot guarantee a response from any author.

We welcome any information that will help us improve the factual accuracy of this piece. Thank you.

Please consult our Contact Us page for other options to reach us.

When you click submit, this article page will reload. You should see a message at the top of the reloaded page confirming that your feedback has been received.

[Explore America’s in-depth coverage of Pope Francis.]


The latest from america

Pope Francis greets the faithful from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter’s Square on May 31. The pope led the Sunday prayer from his window for the first time in three months, after the square was reopened. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)
On Pentecost Sunday, Pope Francis proclaimed the unity guaranteed by the Holy Spirit: “we are not bits of confetti blown about by the wind, rather we are irreplaceable fragments in his mosaic.” Gerard O’Connell reports.
Gerard O’ConnellMay 31, 2020
Tucker Redding, S.J. guides listeners through contemplative prayer in this 10-part limited series "Imagine: A Guide to Jesuit Prayer."
Pope Francis touches a Marian icon as he leaves at the end of a vigil, ahead of Pentecost Sunday, at the Vatican June 8, 2019. (CNS photo/Remo Casilli, Reuters)
The pope’s message poses a sharp challenge to a movement known more for personal conversion and evangelization than practical mercy.
Austen IvereighMay 30, 2020
A woman in Minneapolis expresses her anger and frustration on May 28, at the site where George Floyd was pinned down on May 25 by a police officer; he was later pronounced dead at a local hospital. (CNS photo/Dave Hrbacek, The Catholic Spirit)
"Indifference is not an option," said the chairmen of seven committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. They stated "unequivocally" that "racism is a life issue."