Vaccine sceptic Cardinal Raymond Burke on ventilator in US hospital

Prelate receiving treatment in Wisconsin where ‘doctors encouraged by his progress’

Irish-American Cardinal Raymond Burke (73), a Covid-19 vaccine sceptic, has been placed on a ventilator after testing positive for the virus last week. A tweet sent by his staff said he is now on a ventilator at the hospital in Wisconsin, where he was bishop from 1994 to 2005.

“Doctors are encouraged by his progress,” the tweet said, adding that Cardinal Burke “faithfully prayed the Rosary for those suffering from the virus”. It also also said, “let us now pray the Rosary for him”.

On Wednesday of last week 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. Please pray for me as I begin my recovery. Let us trust in Divine Providence. God bless you." It followed speculation about his health.

Last December he described Covid-19 as the "mysterious Wuhan virus", in line with the attribution of former US president Donald Trump. Earlier last year the Cardinal questioned a need for social distancing in dealing with the virus and opposed mandatory vaccination.


He claimed 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”.

Faithful feel ‘abondoned’

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.

A forceful conservative in the church and vocal critic of Pope Francis, Cardinal Burke has also been 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. I go back to Ireland regularly and there are many wonderful people in Ireland hungering for leadership."

In 2013 he criticised then taoiseach Enda Kenny when he described himself as a taoiseach who happens to be a Catholic, but not a Catholic taoiseach. It "does not make any sense", Cardinal Burke observed.

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, a position from which he was removed by Pope Francis in 2014.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times