LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (AP) – A senior Roman Catholic cardinal hospitalized after contracting COVID-19 is out of a ventilator and is being moved out of intensive care, according to officials at a Wisconsin shrine he founded.
Cardinal Raymond Burke was due to return to a normal hospital room in an undisclosed location on Saturday, the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse said in a statement.
Burke, 73, one of the Catholic Church’s most outspoken conservatives and a vaccine skeptic, had been sedated and put on a ventilator after his August 10 tweet that he had contracted the coronavirus.
“His sister spoke to him on the phone this morning and His Eminence expressed his deep gratitude for the many prayers that have been said on his behalf,” said the statement by Rev. Paul N. Check, the shrine’s executive director.
“His family ask us to continue these prayers for his full and speedy recovery and they are grateful to God for the exceptional medical care the cardinal has received from the dedicated doctors and nurses who continue to help him,” the statement said .
An earlier statement from the shrine said Burke had received sacraments from priests and several relics had been placed in his room.
Burke has a doctorate in canon law. He served as a bishop in the Diocese of La Crosse before becoming Archbishop of St. Louis. In 2008, he left St. Louis to oversee the Vatican Supreme Court and became the first American to hold that position.
He has built a reputation for being an outspoken conservative. He drew attention in 2004 when he said he would not give Holy Communion to Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry because Kerry supports the right to abortion. In 2009, he reprimanded the University of Notre Dame for plans to award then-President Barack Obama an honorary doctorate because Obama also advocates the right to abortion.
Francis pulled Burke out of the Vatican Court in 2014 after Burke said the church was like a ship without an oar.
Burke has been attacking Francis ever since. He joined three other Conservative cardinals who formally asked the Pope in 2016 to explain why he had chosen to allow remarried Catholics to receive Holy Communion.
Burke has also warned people that governments are using pandemic fear to manipulate people. He spoke out against mandatory vaccinations in May 2020, saying some in society would implant microchips in people. He said the best weapon to fight the virus is Jesus Christ.
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