A former archbishop of St. Louis who's publicly expressed wariness about the coronavirus vaccine has been placed on a ventilator, just days after he announced he had the virus. "I wish to inform you that I have recently tested positive for the COVID-19 virus," Cardinal Raymond Burke tweeted on Tuesday, adding that he was "resting comfortably and receiving excellent medical care." He added: "Please pray for me as I begin my recovery." On Saturday evening, a new tweet, which Religion News Service notes was likely posted by Burke's comms team, sounded more serious. "Cardinal Burke has been admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 and is being assisted by a ventilator," read that tweet. "Doctors are encouraged by his progress." RNS says the 73-year-old cardinal is being treated at a hospital in Wisconsin, where he served as a bishop for just over a decade in the late '90s and early aughts before heading to his archbishop post in St. Louis.
Burke left St. Louis in 2008 to head to Rome, where he served as prefect to the Vatican's Apostolic Signatura until his 2014 resignation. Elizabeth Westhoff, Burke's former press secretary, tells the St. Louis Post-Dispatch she confirmed the news with Burke's current secretary, and that Burke became ill while on a visit to Wisconsin from his home in Rome. RNS notes it's not clear if Burke had been vaccinated against COVID, but he's a known virus and vaccine skeptic and conspiracy theorist who has, among other things, suggested there's a "microchip" contained in the vaccine; shaken his head at social distancing measures; and insisted vaccinations can't be imposed in a "totalitarian manner." In a homily last year, Burke also claimed the "Wuhan virus" was a scheme used by "certain forces, inimical to families and to the freedom of nations, to advance their evil agenda," per KTVI. (Read more cardinals stories.)