Outspoken conservative Cardinal Raymond L. Burke is reportedly on a ventilator after contracting COVID-19 sometime last week. The Washington Post reports that Burke announced that he had tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Tuesday. On Saturday, Burke’s Twitter account posted that the 73-year-old cardinal had been admitted to a hospital in Wisconsin, that he had “prayed the Rosary for those suffering from the virus,” and that his “doctors are encouraged by his progress.”
The Cardinal resides in Vatican city but was visiting his birth state of Wisconsin when he contracted COVID-19. At the time, he tweeted out the statement “Praised be Jesus Christ! I wish to inform you that I have recently tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. Thanks be to God, I am resting comfortably and receiving excellent medical care. Please pray for me as I begin my recovery. Let us trust in Divine Providence. God bless you.” The Post says that Burke, who has been critical of vaccines in general, from development to deployment, did not say whether or not he had been vaccinated.
Back in May of 2020, the reactionary Cardinal Burke spoke out about vaccinations, saying, “it must be clear that vaccination itself cannot be imposed, in a totalitarian manner, on citizens.” He also derided wholesale calls for a vaccine against the current pandemic, saying derisively that “there is a certain movement to insist that now everyone must be vaccinated against the coronavirus.” During the virtual Rome Life Forum, the Cardinal also did a bit of conservative misinformation peddling, saying the old some people say “a kind of microchip needs to be placed under the skin of every person, so that at any moment he or she can be controlled by the State regarding health and about other matters which we can only imagine.”
Cardinal Burke also made news a couple of years into President Obama’s first term in office when he made barely veiled comparisons between Obama’s use of ideas like “hope” and “future” and connected them to “totalitarianism.” Of course, his position of pro-choice political views has led him to both refuse giving Communion (back in 2004) to then-Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry (a Catholic) and, later, to call any Catholic who voted for President Obama someone who had “collaborated with evil.”
Burke rose in the Catholic Church under the eight-year tenure of Pope Benedict. At his peak position, Cardinal Burke was the highest-ranking American cardinal at the Vatican. Pope Benedict, unable to shake off his Hitler youth origins or his very dubious but direct ties to hundreds of child abuse cases the church tried to sweep underneath their expensive rugs, retired under a cloud of suspicions, replaced by the considerably more liberal-minded Pope Francis. Burke’s history of being acutely homophobic, and his criticisms of the new pope, led to his demotion in 2014.
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