Cardinal Raymond Burke, a leader in the Catholic church, has been placed on a ventilator after contracting covid-19, according to the cardinal’s Twitter account. Burke has repeatedly made bizarre comments about the pandemic since it began last year, including claims that governments might try to place microchips in humans during the health crisis.
“Cardinal Burke has been admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 and is being assisted by a ventilator. Doctors are encouraged by his progress,” the cardinal’s Twitter account announced.
“H.E. faithfully prayed the Rosary for those suffering from the virus. On this Vigil of the Assumption, let us now pray the Rosary for him,” the account continued.
Burke, an American who lives primarly in Rome, has reportedly been spending time in his home state of Wisconsin, according to CNN, where he’s presumably being treated for covid-19. Wisconsin has seen a recent surge in covid-19 cases, with 2,448 cases reported on Monday alone.
But it’s Burke’s particular brand of conspiratorial anti-science rhetoric that makes his recent illness rather ironic. During a homily in December of 2020, Burke referred to the coronavirus as the “Wuhan virus,” a name made popular by former president and noted white supremacist Donald Trump. Burke also said the virus was being used to advance an “evil agenda.”
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Burke lamented the fact that shaking hands was being done less frequently to stop the spread of covid-19, and made perhaps his most strange claim when he said people would try to implant a microchip during vaccination against coronavirus, during the Rome Life Forum in May of 2020.
“There is a certain movement to insist that now everyone must be vaccinated against the coronavirus covid-19 and even that a kind of microchip needs to be placed under the skin of every person so that at any moment he or she can be controlled regarding health and regarding other matters, which we can only imagine as a possible object of control by the state,” Burke said.
The idea that covid-19 vaccines have secret microchips is a fringe conspiracy theory. Needless to say, there are no hidden microchips being administered with the covid-19 vaccine.
Burke also showed opposition to any lockdowns, which have been used effectively in many countries to control the spread of covid-19. Burke seemed to suggest that anything keeping people away from physically attending church was unjustifiable.
“It is also been suggested, even by pastors of the church, that the present crisis should lead us to consider again whether Sunday mass is essential to the Christian life or whether funeral rites are essential to the practice of our faith,” Burke said.
“The Sunday mass obligation, for instance, is a divine law which we are obliged to observe unless, for reasons beyond our control, we are unable to do so. During the present crisis, it has been said that bishops dispense the faithful from the Sunday mass obligation,” Burke continued.
“Our relationship with God requires that we leave the confinement of our homes and what we may imagine to be a perfectly protected environment in order that he threw his only begotten son can speak to our hearts and nourish them with divine grace,” Burke said.
“In this regard, even as it is perfectly normal that individuals leave the confinement of their homes to purchase food and medicine, it is even more perfectly normal that persons of faith leave the confinement of their homes to pray and to receive the sacraments.”
Burke has been a far-right figure in the church for years, recently making headlines for blaming the Catholic church’s systemic sexual abuse of children over many decades on gay people.
It’s not clear if Cardinal Burke was vaccinated against covid-19, despite his extreme anti-vaccine views, but so-called breakthrough cases do happen. But getting vaccinated reduces your chance of getting serious disease or even dying from covid-19, a message that most mainstream Catholics have embraced.