Cardinal close to Pope Francis tests positive for coronavirus

Pope Francis (R) blesses the audience as Vicar General of Rome, Cardinal Angelo de Donatis crosses himself at the end of the Conference of the Diocese of Rome at the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran (San Giovanni in Laterano) on May 9, 2019 in Rome. (Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP) (Photo credit should read ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP via Getty Images)

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis’ vicar for Rome has tested positive for the coronavirus in the first case of a cardinal close to the pope known to be infected.

Cardinal Angelo De Donatis had been in touch with Francis in recent weeks — apparently not in person, however — over the cardinal’s initial decision to close all Rome churches in line with an Italian government shutdown decree.

De Donatis reversed himself after Francis intervened, and allowed diocesan churches to remain open for individuals to pray.

The pope is technically bishop of Rome, but he delegates the day-to-day running of the diocese to his vicar, De Donatis, 66. The Rome church said De Donatis was in good condition at Rome’s Gemelli hospital and was receiving antiviral treatment.

The Holy See has said six people have tested positive for the virus in the Vatican, none of them the pope or his closest advisers.

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