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Catholics for Choice Calls Out Cardinal Raymond Burke’s History of Spreading COVID Disinformation, Prays for His Recovery from COVID-19

August 19, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, August 19, 2021
Contact: John Becker, Communications Specialist
Phone: 202-203-0931

Catholics for Choice Calls Out Cardinal Raymond Burke’s History of Spreading COVID Disinformation, Prays for His Recovery from COVID-19

WASHINGTON – Catholics for Choice, which uplifts and amplifies the voices of the majority of Catholics who believe in reproductive freedom, criticized Cardinal Raymond Burke today for repeatedly spreading dangerous disinformation about the coronavirus pandemic and COVID-19 vaccines. Burke – a far-right reactionary and a former high-ranking Vatican official – recently tested positive for the virus and is receiving intensive care in his home state of Wisconsin.

Catholics for Choice President Jamie L. Manson said:

“We at Catholics for Choice are genuinely sorry to hear about the suffering that Cardinal Burke is currently enduring due to COVID-19, despite our conscientious objections to his harmful positions on a range of issues, from abortion rights to LGBTQ equality to the role of women in the church. But even as we keep him in our thoughts and prayers, we are morally obligated to hold him accountable for his choice to consistently amplify outlandish and dangerous disinformation throughout the coronavirus pandemic. It is unconscionable for any religious leader, let alone one with Burke’s influence, to amplify deadly falsehoods and lead the faithful so gravely astray from the truth of medical science.”

Burke’s history of promoting junk science, conspiracy theories, and vaccine skepticism is almost as old as the coronavirus pandemic itself. In a virtual address to a global anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ extremist group in May of 2020, he parroted an outrageously false Internet conspiracy theory that COVID vaccines would implant microchips into recipients’ bodies that would allow them to “at any moment… be controlled by the state.” In that same speech, given as the pandemic ravaged the globe, Burke slammed lockdowns (“not… how God has called us to live”), condemned mandatory vaccination, and called vaccines developed with fetal cell lines “abhorrent.” That December he gave a homily in which he advanced the “Great Reset” theory, which falsely states that the pandemic is being used by as a pretext by global elites to manipulate citizens and impose a one-world economy. In January of 2021, Burke lied that universal vaccination would lead to one-world government. And just this month, Burke led a conference at a shrine he founded in Wisconsin at which attendees were required to receive Communion in their mouths and encouraged to use the communal holy water because, they were told, it contained “a special blessing against contagious viruses.” Burke tested positive for COVID shortly thereafter.

“Cardinal Burke has spent his entire ecclesiastical career waging unholy war against contraception, abortion rights, and equality for women and LGBTQ people – all in the name of being ‘pro-life,’” said Manson. “But there is absolutely nothing ‘pro-life’ about sowing suspicion about lifesaving vaccines or super-spreading feverish lies from the dregs of the Internet. Creating confusion among Catholics in the midst of a global pandemic has only exacerbated suffering and death. We pray that Cardinal Burke will fully recover, recant the misleading ideas he has so recklessly advanced, and encourage the faithful to respect life by getting vaccinated.”

Catholics for Choice shapes and advances sexual and reproductive ethics that are based on justice, reflect a commitment to a person’s well-being and respect, and affirm the capacity of all people to make moral decisions about their lives.