Cardinal Rivera in an undated file photo. Cardinal Rivera in an undated file photo.

Catholic cardinal eschews public health care in favor of private hospital

Norberto Rivera, former archbishop of Mexico City, is paying for treatment with his own resources

The former archbishop of Mexico City is undergoing treatment for Covid-19 in a private hospital by his own choice, Catholic Church officials said yesterday, explaining that Cardinal Norberto Rivera rejected the option to be admitted to a public-sector hospital.

Rivera, 78, is currently is in intensive care at an unidentified private hospital in Mexico City, paid for with his own resources, Valdemar said.

His condition became so serious at one point that he had to be transferred to a different hospital, also private, and had to be intubated and sedated. On Monday, he was administered last rites, according to his ex-spokesman, Father Hugo Valdemar. However, his condition has since improved, Valdemar told the publication Forbes México.

“[Rivera] was admitted on his own means because he is in bad health, and afterward when he was moved to another hospital, they required an economic reference, and the archdiocese said it could not cover his costs,” he added.

In its statement, the archdiocese said it had decided that all clergy would receive Covid-19 treatment in private hospitals that have made agreements with the government to admit public-sector patients or at temporary treatment spaces created for Covid-19 patients.

“Those bishops and priests diagnosed with Covid-19 who wish to be treated for their illness with other options may do so with their own resources or economic support that their next-of-kin can offer,” the statement said, adding that current archbishop of Mexico City, Carlos Aguiar, has assigned a priest to attend to Rivera’s needs and that it was Rivera’s decision to be treated in a private hospital.

The archdiocese justified its decision not to pay for private treatment costs saying it was due to the difficult economic situation the Roman Catholic Church is experiencing throughout Mexico, as well as “in communion and solidarity with what thousands of Mexicans are living through during this pandemic and whom we accompany by way of our daily prayers.”

Although Rivera was a few days ago rumored on social media to have died, his condition is improving, Valdemar said.

“Today we received a pretty positive medical report,” he told Forbes México. “He has been having good [oxygen] saturation and his whole body is doing well. He continues in to be in intensive therapy, in delicate condition, but with an optimistic prognosis.”

Sources: Reforma (sp), Forbes México (sp)

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