Irish-American Cardinal Raymond Burke, a Covid-19 vaccine sceptic, has confirmed he now has the virus.
In the past year he has questioned the need for social distancing in dealing with Covid and has opposed mandatory vaccination. Last December he referred to it as the "mysterious Wuhan virus," as described by former US president Donald Trump.
Following recent speculation about his health, the Cardinal tweeted on Wednesday: "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."
A forceful conservative and vocal critic of Pope Francis, Cardinal Burke (73) has been a frequent visitor to Ireland and regularly attended the annual Fota International Liturgy Conference in Cork, which he opened in July 2014.
“I was raised in an Irish Catholic family which had a keen sense of the moral law. I go back to Ireland regularly and there are many wonderful people in Ireland hungering for leadership,” he said.
In 2013 he criticised then taoiseach Enda Kenny when the Fine Gael leader described himself as a taoiseach who happens to be a Catholic, but not a Catholic taoiseach. It “does not make any sense,” Cardinal Burke said.
From Richland Centre in Wisconsin, with parents from Cork and Tipperary, he was Archbishop of St Louis from 2004 to 2008 before being appointed prefect at the Vatican's Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, from which he was removed by Pope Francis in 2014.
Last December he claimed that Covid-19 was being used “by certain forces, inimical to families and to the freedom of nations, to advance their evil agenda,” adding that “these forces tell us that we are now the subjects of the so-called ‘Great Reset’, the ‘new normal,’ which is dictated to us by their manipulation of citizens and nations through ignorance and fear.”
In May of last year, referring to the first lockdown, he said it was not how God had “called us to live” and criticised how church leaders had responded to the pandemic, claiming there had been a “failure” to insist that the church be permitted to carry on its mission.
“The general impression among the faithful is that their priests have been taken away from them or have abandoned them,” he said.