MADISON, Wisconsin (AP) – Cardinal Raymond Burke, one of the Catholic Church’s most outspoken conservatives and a vaccine skeptic, said he had COVID-19 and his staff said he was breathing through a ventilator.
Burke tweeted on Aug. 10 that he had contracted the virus, was resting comfortably, and was receiving excellent medical care.
“Please pray for me as I begin my recovery,” 73-year-old Burke said in the tweet. “Let us trust in Divine Providence. Godd bless you.”
On Saturday, his staff tweeted that he had been hospitalized and had a ventilator, but doctors were encouraged with his progress.
“(His Eminence) faithfully prayed the rosary for those infected with the virus … Now let’s pray the rosary for him,” said his staff.
The Washington Post and St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Burke became infected while visiting Wisconsin and was hospitalized there. Burke was born in Richland Center, southwest Wisconsin and served as a bishop in the Diocese of La Crosse from 1995 to 2004.
COVID-19 cases have risen sharply in Wisconsin in the past few weeks, largely due to the Delta variant. The state’s seven-day average of cases was 1,139 on Wednesday, the highest since February.
The Diocese of La Crosse had no immediate information on Monday as to where Burke was hospitalized. A spokesman for the Wisconsin Hospital Association said he had no information on Burke. Vatican media representatives did not immediately respond to an email.
Burke has a doctorate in canon law. He moved from the Diocese of La Crosse to become Archbishop of St. Louis. He spent more than four years in this position and left in August 2008 to oversee the Vatican Supreme Court. He was the first American to hold this position.
Burke has built a reputation for being an outspoken conservative. In 2004, he made a name for himself in the United States when he said he would refuse Holy Communion to Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, a Catholic who supports the right to abortion.
Pope Francis deposed Burke from the Vatican court in 2014 after saying the church was like a ship without an oar.
Burke has since become one of Francis’ harshest critics, initially by joining three other Conservative Cardinals who officially asked Francis to explain himself in 2016 after opening the door to civilly remarried Catholics to receive Holy Communion to let.
He has also joined a chorus of conservative and traditionalist criticism of Francis’ crackdown on the celebration of the ancient Latin Mass, denouncing the “gravity” of the Pope’s decision and questioning his right to enforcement by saying he shared the ” deep sorrow “of the Catholics who felt that Francis had wrongly attacked them. Burke celebrated a Tridentine mass, as the old liturgy is also known, in a parish in Stamford, Connecticut, on the same evening that the Pope’s new restrictions were announced.
The Pope eventually returned him to the court in 2017, but made him a member rather than his chief officer.
In 2009, Burke criticized the University of Notre Dame for its plans to award then-President Barack Obama an honorary doctorate for supporting abortion
Burke has also criticized how governments have dealt with the pandemic, referring to the virus in a sermon last December as the “Wuhan virus,” a derogatory term used by former President Donald Trump to describe the coronavirus To warn people that governments are manipulating it. In May 2020, he spoke out against compulsory vaccinations, saying that some in society want to implant people with microchips.
He said in March 2020 that the best weapon to fight the “evil of the coronavirus” is a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Associate press reporters Jim Salter in O’Fallon, Missouri, and Nicole Winfield in Rome contributed to this report.
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