Irish-American Cardinal Raymond Burke has been taken off a ventilator and moved out of intensive care in a US hospital, according to a spokesman. The 73-year-old has been a noted Covid vaccine sceptic.
On August 11th the Cardinal himself tweeted: "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."
However, last week his condition deteriorated and he was described by the spokesman as “sedated and on a medical ventilator.” He had also “received the sacraments from priests nearby to him.”
In a tweet this week the spokesman said “His Eminence has come off the ventilator and will leave ICU today to return to his hospital room. His sister spoke on the phone this morning and His Eminence expressed his deep gratitude for the many prayers offered in his behalf.”
Last December Cardinal Burke described Covid-19 as the "mysterious Wuhan virus", in line with its description by former US president Donald Trump. Earlier last year he questioned a need for social distancing in dealing with the virus and opposed mandatory vaccination.
The virus was being used “by certain forces, inimical to families and to the freedom of nations, to advance their evil agenda”, he said and, referring to the first lockdown in May of last year, he said it was not how God had “called us to live.”
A forceful conservative and vocal critic of Pope Francis, Cardinal Burke is a frequent visitor to Ireland and regularly attended the annual Fota International Liturgy Conference in Cork which he opened in July 2014.
With parents from Cork and Tipperary, he once said: "I was raised in an Irish Catholic family which had a keen sense of the moral law."
From Richland Center in Wisconsin, following his period as Archbishop of St Louis, he was appointed prefect at the Vatican's Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura in 2008, from which he was removed by Pope Francis in 2014.
Last week Pope Francis called on people to get vaccinated against Covid-19, as he and his predecessor, retired pontiff Benedict XVI, have been.
“Being vaccinated with vaccines authorised by the competent authorities is an act of love. And contributing to ensure the majority of people are vaccinated is an act of love – love for oneself, love for one’s family and friends, love for all people,” Pope Francis said in the video, released in Rome.