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Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, one of the Catholic Church’s most embarrassing public figures for the past several years, is currently in the hospital with COVID after spending much of the past year downplaying the seriousness of the virus and rejecting the efficacy of the vaccines.

Burke, a 73-year-old right-wing homophobe who was demoted in 2014, argued in March of 2020 that churches should remain open despite all the evidence (even then) that the virus could spread via large gatherings. In May of last year, he said any potential vaccine couldn’t be forced upon the public… in part because he fell for an insane conspiracy theory involving microchips:

During his talk at this year’s virtual Rome Life Forum, he said “it must be clear that vaccination itself cannot be imposed, in a totalitarian manner, on citizens.”

He also mentioned that some groups suggest “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 by the State regarding health and about other matters which we can only imagine.”

In that same speech, he suggested vaccines that developed through the use of fetal tissue were immoral. While the Catholic Church has basically given members a green light on vaccines, the implication for the “pro-life” Burke was that he was willing to sacrifice living adults on behalf of non-viable fetuses. His concern for other’s lives ended the moment of their birth.

Even today, it’s not clear if Burke has been vaccinated. Which is why it wasn’t much of a surprise earlier this week when Burke’s office announced that he had tested positive for the virus:

Since then, his God must have said “No,” since the situation has only gotten worse. Burke is now in a hospital on a ventilator.

Couldn’t have happened to a more deserving candidate. I don’t say that lightly and I don’t say that with joy. The people who took the virus seriously gave him every opportunity to protect himself, and he rejected them all, possibly dragging a bunch of other Catholics down with him. If someone has to bear the consequences of his irresponsibility, it should be him, not one of the people with less access to good information.

If he survives the ordeal, then maybe, for once, he can be a voice of reason. He could urge people to get their shots. He could admit he was wrong about everything COVID-related. There’s so much he could do instead of being a force for cruelty and misery like he’s been throughout his career.

And if he doesn’t survive, then may others learn from his faith-based ignorance.

Hemant Mehta is the founder of, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.

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