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Pope Francis’s righthand man tests positive for COVID

Pope Francis during an audience with Vatican employees for the Christmas greetings, in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, on December 23, 2021. (Filippo Monteforte/AFP)
Pope Francis during an audience with Vatican employees for the Christmas greetings, in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, on December 23, 2021. (Filippo Monteforte/AFP)

The Vatican’s top diplomat and adviser to Pope Francis, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, has tested positive for COVID, says a spokesman for the Holy See.

The 67-year-old cardinal, who as secretary of state is the Vatican’s number two after the pope, is currently in isolation, exhibiting only “mild symptoms,” says Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni.

Venezuelan archbishop, Edgar Pena Parra, the Vatican’s deputy secretary of state, also tested positive, but he was asymptomatic, Bruni says.

Both men had been vaccinated.

Pope Francis, 85 and himself vaccinated, frequently meets with Cardinal Parolin, who is considered the pontiff’s righthand man.

Francis has been an avid proponent of vaccination yet regularly appears without a mask during public audiences and does not hesitate to shake hands with the faithful and pose for photographs.

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