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Catholic cardinal who spread vaccine misinformation now on a ventilator battling COVID-19

Unvaccinated COVID patients share regrets
Unvaccinated COVID patients in hard-hit Louisiana share regrets 04:51

A Catholic cardinal who was critical of COVID-19 vaccination policies and spread misinformation about the virus is now on a ventilator after testing positive earlier this month. Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Archbishop Emeritus of St. Louis, said in a tweet on August 10 that he recently tested positive for COVID-19.

Four days later, another update was shared on his Twitter: "Cardinal Burke has been admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 and is being assisted by a ventilator. Doctors are encouraged by his progress. 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."

Burke, founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wisconsin, had previously spread misinformation about both the coronavirus and vaccines

Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke said in a tweet on August 10 that he recently tested positive for COVID-19. Four days later it was revealed that he is in the hospital, on a ventilator. Andrew Medichini / AP

When speaking at the Rome Life Forum in May 2020, Burke said vaccines should not be imposed in what he called "a totalitarian manner." 

The cardinal also repeated a conspiracy theory that falsely claims vaccines could used to implant microchips. "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," he said.

Around the world, more than 4.7 billion vaccine doses have been administered, including more than 356 million in the United States, providing safe and effective protection against severe illness from COVID-19.

During his address, Burke also criticized China, saying it has an "evil form of government" and suggesting that the Chinese government played a role in "creating" the health crisis. 

Burke continued to speak about the virus in conspiratorial terms in a sermon at his church in Wisconsin last December. He said "the mysterious Wuhan virus ... has been used by certain forces, inimical to families and to the freedom of nations, to advance their evil agenda." 

He continued, "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."

The cardinal is known as an outspoken conservative and has been critical of Pope Francis, who reassigned Burke from the Vatican court in 2014, according to The Associated Press. In 2004, he said he would deny Holy Communion to Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry over Kerry's support for legal abortion. In 2009 he also criticized the University of Notre Dame when it planned to give President Barack Obama an honorary degree, also because of his position on abortion rights.

CBS News has reached out to Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe for more information on the cardinal and is awaiting response.

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