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Pandemic could create ‘more caring society’

The Covid-19 pandemic disaster may leave behind a more compassionate society, an Italian-born Catholic priest said yesterday.

Father Attilio Morelli, parish priest at St Anthony's Catholic Church in Warwick, explained the countless examples of selflessness shown in the crisis could create a new culture of caring.

Father Morelli said: “My hope is that we will be able, when this is finished, to derive some positives from the experience.”

He added: “It could help us to appreciate more each other in some ways and encourage us to take care of those who are most vulnerable.”

Father Morelli, originally from Pisticci, a mountaintop town in the southern Italian region of Basilicata, said about 21,000 people had died from Covid-19 in his homeland, with the country the second-hardest hit after the United States.

He watched from Bermuda as the pandemic started to ravage Italy.

Father Morelli said: “Everything was so unexpected, so unusual, out of anything we could have experienced in the past. It was very confusing in the beginning.”

He added he grew up in Rome, where many of his friends live and his brother, Antonio, is a police officer in the city.

Father Morelli said: “He is still working in this time.

“He sends me photos and videos, unusual pictures of empty Rome, things that policemen capture during their service.”

He added a fellow priest he knew in Italy was on a respirator at one stage, but that “it seems he is recovering.”

However, he said the health of family back home had not been affected by the pandemic.

Father Morelli added: “Most are hit by the lockdown. I don't have a lot of family or acquaintances hit by the actual sickness. They are mostly stuck in the house for several weeks.”

He said: “It is more the worry about the future, jobs, and how and when it will be possible to resume life.”

Father Morelli said two longtime friends in the priesthood who worked in Brooklyn, New York had succumbed to the disease.

Father Jorge Ortiz-Garay, who died on March 27, is thought to be the first priest in the United States to die of Covid-19.

Father Gioacchino Basile passed on April 4.

Father Morelli said: “They were very generous priests, very devoted to their people.”

He added: “I also have friends who are not priests, who have been hospitalised, but are on the verge of recovery. I have had more friends affected by the sickness in the United States than in Italy.

He said he has talked about the pandemic with other Italians resident in Bermuda.

He added: “I mostly experience the feelings of the people. Their families are OK, but they are worried and mostly sad, and more a little bit worried about what has happened here.

“They are mostly involved in restaurants here and they also take care of their foreign workers.

“They are responsible for them in some way and have a little bit of worry about this.”

Father Morelli said Bermuda may be able to learn from the Italian experience of Covid-19.

He said: “In a sense, it started later here, but we saw it coming earlier than they did over there, so we can learn a little bit from the experience of Italy in some ways.

“Things like antibody testing — in Italy, doctors discovered this was very useful. They spotted it later, but we can be ahead of the curve.

“It would be a good addition to the arsenal that we have here in Bermuda to fight this pandemic.”

Sabrina DiMeglio, the Honorary Italian Consul, said there were about 300 Italians on the island.

Under pressure: medical staff work in the Intensive Care Unit of the Bassini Hospital, in Cinisello Balsamo, near Milan, Italy (Photograph by Claudio Furlan/LaPresse/AP)

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Published April 16, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated April 16, 2020 at 8:04 am)

Pandemic could create ‘more caring society’

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