Cardinal Raymond Burke, Known for COVID Skepticism, on Ventilator After Contracting Virus

Cardinal Raymond Burke, a conservative member of the Catholic Church known for COVID-19 skepticism during the pandemic, was put on a ventilator after contracting the virus, the Associated Press reported.

On August 10, Burke tweeted that he was infected with COVID-19 but was receiving medical treatment and resting in comfort.

"Please pray for me as I begin my recovery," Burke said in the tweet. "Let us trust in Divine Providence. God bless you."

However, his staff tweeted Saturday that Burke, 73, was hospitalized with the virus and had been placed on a ventilator

"(His Eminence) faithfully prayed the Rosary for those suffering from the virus....Let us now pray the Rosary for him," his staff said.

Burke previously expressed distrust of the COVID-19 vaccine. During an address at the virtual Rome Life Forum in May of 2020, he said that the "vaccination itself cannot be imposed, in a totalitarian manner, on citizens."

He also reiterated some unproven conspiracy theories regarding the vaccine, such as that the shot injects "a kind of microchip" into recipients that allows them to "be controlled by the State."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Cardinal Raymond Burke on Ventilator
Cardinal Raymond Burke, one of the Catholic Church's most outspoken conservatives and a vaccine skeptic, said he has COVID-19 and his staff said he is breathing through a ventilator. Above, Burke applauds during a press conference at the Italian Senate on September 6, 2018, in Rome, Italy. Allessandra Tarantino/AP Photo

The Washington Post and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Burke became infected during a visit to Wisconsin and was hospitalized there. Burke was born in Richland Center in southwestern Wisconsin and served as bishop in the Diocese of La Crosse from 1995 to 2004.

COVID-19 cases have been surging in Wisconsin in recent weeks due largely to the Delta variant. The state's seven-day case average stood at 1,139 as of Wednesday, the highest it's been since February.

The diocese had no immediate information Monday on where Burke was hospitalized. A spokesman for the Wisconsin Hospital Association said he had no information on Burke. Vatican media officials didn't immediately respond to an email.

Burke holds a doctorate in canon law. He moved from the Diocese of La Crosse to become archbishop of St. Louis. He spent more than four years in that position, leaving in August 2008 to oversee the Vatican's supreme court. He was the first American to hold that position.

Burke has built a reputation as an outspoken conservative. He drew attention in the U.S. in 2004 when he said he would deny Holy Communion to Democratic presidential nominee, John Kerry, a Roman Catholic who supports abortion rights.

Pope Francis reassigned Burke from the Vatican court in 2014 after he said the church was like a ship with no rudder.

Burke also criticized the University of Notre Dame, in 2009, over its plans to give then-President Barack Obama an honorary degree because Obama supports abortion. In March of this year, he criticized Pope Francis for issuing a decree limiting the Latin Massat St. Peter's Basilica to two hours a day in the structure's grottos.

He also has criticized how governments have handled the pandemic, referring to the virus in a homily last December as the "Wuhan virus," a derogatory term coined by former President Donald Trump to describe the coronavirus and warning people that governments were manipulating them. In May 2020, he spoke out against mandatory vaccinations, saying some in society want to implant microchips in people.

He said in March 2020 that the best weapon for battling "the evil of the coronavirus" is a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Cardinal Burke at "March for Life"
Cardinal Raymond Burke, one of the Catholic Church's most outspoken conservatives and a vaccine skeptic, said he has COVID-19 and his staff said he is breathing through a ventilator. Above, Burke attends the National March for Life on May 18, 2019, in Rome, Italy. Stefano Montesi/Corbis/Getty Images