A thread of tragedy and pain links two lands, symbolically. The first Italian bishop to die for Covid is from Bergamo. However, he did not die in his hometown but in Bolivia, where he carried out his ministry. Monsignor Eugenio Scarpellini, 66 years old, originally from Verdellino and pastor of El Alto, a populous center near La Paz, passed away yesterday due to the aggravation of the virus. It is the first titular Italian bishop who was struck down by the virus.
“He distinguished himself for his dedication to the poorest and his tireless struggle for justice”, is the memory of the Bolivian Episcopal Conference, of which Scarpellini had been assistant secretary general. Ordained a priest in 1978, Scarpellini had also been parish vicar of Nembro, between 1982 and 1987; the following year he left for Bolivia, as fidei donum, holding various positions.
In 2013 the appointment of Pope Francis as bishop of El Alto. At the end of 2019, he had mediated in the crisis that exploded after the resignation of former President Evo Morales. Just in recent months, the media of the South American country had spoken extensively about the advance of the pandemic in its Bergamo: “I am in contact with friends and relatives to understand what the measures are to prevent infections, it is a very worrying situation”.
Also affected by the virus, Scarpellini was hospitalized in La Paz: after a moment in which the most critical phase seemed to have passed, yesterday morning there was a sudden worsening, fatal. The missionary center of the diocese of Bergamo announced it in Italy, “with deep pain, but with the trust placed in Christ: we entrust it to the mercy of the Good Shepherd”.