UPDATE (3/25/2020): A new report from the Catholic News Agency indicates that previous articles about the late Don Giusseppe Berardelli, a priest in Italy, donating a respirator to a younger stranger in need are, in fact, untrue.
The secretary general for Berardelli’s diocese told CNA there was no such donation.
“There was not a donated respirator,” said priest Giulio Dellavite, who was a personal friend of Berardelli for more than 20 years. “There have not been any respirators coming from outside of the hospital.”
Dellavite did, though, make it clear that he believes if Berardelli had the opportunity to give up a respirator for a person in need, he would have done so. But as of right now, “we do not have certainty” such an opportunity presented itself, he explained.
A Catholic priest in Italy has passed away of the novel coronavirus after he scarified a ventilator for a younger stranger suffering from the illness.
The priest, 72-year-old Don Giusseppe Berardelli, reportedly renounced the respirator his congregants had purchased expressly for him. Instead, Berardelli gave it to a man he did not even know.
James Martin, a Jesuit priest, commended the Italian minister for his selfless sacrifice during this unprecedented coronavirus pandemic:
A health care worker from the San Giuseppe retirement home told a local news outlet he was deeply moved by the priest’s personal sacrifice.
“I am deeply moved by the fact that the archpriest of Casnigo, Don Giuseppe Berardelli — to whom the parish community had bought a respirator — renounced his will to assign it to someone younger than him,” the worker said.
Another person who know Berardelli described him as “a simple, straightforward person, with a great kindness and helpfulness towards everyone, believers and non-believers.”
Clara Poli, mayor of Fiorano, where the priest worked, said, “He was a priest who listened to everyone. He knew how to listen. Whoever turned to him knew that he could count on his help. I remember him on his old Guzzi motorbike, he loved his motorbike, and when you saw him go by he was always cheerful and full of enthusiasm, he gave peace and joy to our communities.”
There was no funeral for Berardelli, but as his coffin passed through the streets, residents looked out from their balconies and cheered the minister.
“He does not leave us alone,” the mayor added. “From up there, he watches over us and continues to run through the clouds with his motorcycle. Who knows how many projects he is doing up there, also for us.”
According to the BBC, at least 50 priests have passed away as the pandemic continues to sweep through Italy, which has been the latest epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis. To date, Italy has seen more than 63,000 infections and over 6,000 deaths.