Missing Jesuit showing signs of improvement

An Irish Jesuit who went missing for eight days in Rome and was eventually located in hospital remains in intensive care but is showing some signs of improvement.

Fr Bart Kiely, a Cork native, is responding to queries in English but not Italian — despite it being a language he is fluent in, having spent most of his adult life in Rome.

Fr Bart was tracked down to a hospital 28km outside Rome, beyond the initial catchment area searched by fellow Jesuits, family, and police following his disappearance.

His identification was made possible thanks to abdominal scarring from a previous operation. Up to that point, he had effectively been “a John Doe”, said his nephew, Stephen Sullivan.

“After an initial fruitless search, Bart’s family and the Jesuits reconvened and went through every detail they had about Bart with the Irish consulate and the Rome police and the fact that he had scarring from a previous minor abdominal operation eventually led to us tracking him down,” said Mr Sullivan.

Fr Bart had initially been taken to a hospital within the Rome catchment area after he was involved in a traffic accident having earlier left the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome on foot. However, he was transferred to Ospedale S Filippo Neri in north-west Rome, which has a neurological speciality. Facial bruising and absence of ID made identification difficult. The family had been told by police that up to 40 people go missing each day in Rome.

There was “still ambiguity” as to how Fr Bart’s accident took place, but the possibility of an incident involving a couple on a moped is being looked at by police.

“The family are more concerned with Bart’s health than the particulars of the accident at this point,” said Mr Sullivan.

“The consulate and police will keep us informed of any progress.”

The Irish consul, Amal Kaoua, had been particularly helpful as well as Comassario Guiseppi Pierro, lead officer of the Missing Persons Investigation at the Police Questura in Rome, and many members of the Jesuit community.

Stephen said staff at the intensive neurological care ward at the hospital were looking after his uncle well and the family received regular updates of his medical condition. Fr Kiely is a member of a well-known Cork medical family and many members of the family have visited him since he was found and will continue to visit over the Christmas period.

“He is certainly not lonely,” said Mr Sullivan. “He has two families looking after him — the Jesuits and his biological family. There’s continued grounds for hope of further improvement so we continue to pray and hope for further recovery. At this stage though, it’s still largely a waiting game. It’s largely a case of leaving the brain and body repair and nature taking its course.”

Fr Kiely went missing on Nov 14, after leaving the Pontifical Gregorian University, where he is a professor in moral theology and psychology. He is also a member of the committee advising on the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.


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