A conservative former archbishop of St. Louis who has spread unfounded theories about COVID-19 vaccines has been hospitalized with the disease and placed on a ventilator, according to his official Twitter account.
Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, 73, recently tested positive for the coronavirus, the account tweeted last week. On Saturday, another post said he had been admitted to hospital.
It’s not known if Burke, who lives in Rome but was reportedly in Wisconsin when he fell ill, has been vaccinated.
The cardinal has expressed skepticism about the need for social distancing measures and spoke out against mandatory vaccinations in May 2020, according to the National Catholic Reporter. “It must be clear that vaccination itself cannot be imposed, in a totalitarian manner, on citizens,” he said at the time.
Burke has also referenced conspiracy theories about vaccines: one about microchips and another that claimed the vaccines were created using aborted fetal cells.
He has repeated false claims suggesting vaccines may inject microchips that allow recipients to “be controlled by the State regarding health and about other matters which we can only imagine” and also said that “it is never morally justified to develop a vaccine through the use of the cell lines of aborted fetuses.”
Burke, a staunch conservative, has publicly criticized Pope Francis on social issues such as homosexuality and abortion.
After serving as archbishop of St. Louis from 2003 to 2008, Burke went on to the Vatican to become a member of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. After a number of high-profile clashes with Burke, Pope Francis demoted him in 2014.
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