Pope hails Italy virus doctors, nurses as heroes at Vatican

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Pope Francis adresses doctors and nurses from the coronavirus-ravaged Lombardy region, at the Vatican, Saturday, June 20, 2020. Francis told the delegation on Saturday that their example of professional competence and compassion would help Italy forge a new future of solidarity. The northern region of Lombardy, Italy’s financial and industrial capital, was the hardest-hit region in the onetime European epicenter of the pandemic. (Vatican News via AP)

ROME (AP) — Pope Francis has welcomed doctors and nurses from the coronavirus-ravaged region of Lombardy to the Vatican to thank them for their selfless work and “heroic” sacrifice.

Francis dedicated one of his first post-lockdown audiences to Italy’s front-line medical personnel Saturday.

He told the delegation that their example of professional competence and compassion would help Italy forge a new future of hope and solidarity.

The northern region of Lombardy was the hardest-hit region in the onetime European epicenter of the pandemic. It has counted more than 92,000 of Italy’s 232,000 infections and half of Italy’s 34,500 dead.  

Francis also took a dig at some conservative priests who chafed at lockdown measures, calling their complaints “adolescent.”

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