Chris Damian chronicles how Cdl. Burke’s embrace of Francis hatred and nutty conspiracy theories led him into the leadership of the company of false prophets to the MAGA murder/suicide cult:
You may be aware that Cardinal Raymond Burke has been diagnosed with COVID and is now in the hospital. The unveiling of information and misinformation regarding his case took a winding path, in ways mirroring the Cardinal’s approach to COVID generally. He’s been actively involved in spreading conspiracy theories and in promoting skepticism towards medical and scientific findings. And, like his rhetoric, his falling victim to COVID has been characterized by half truths and conjecture.
Here’s a rough timeline of the relationship between Cardinal Burke, COVID, and the pandemic’s conspiracy theories:
March 21, 2020: the start of the pandemic
In the early days of the pandemic, when Italy is being ravaged by the virus, Cardinal Burke urges his followers to exercise caution. While insisting on the need for Catholic churches to continue to safely serve the laity, he says: “It is a fundamental act of charity to use every prudent means to avoid contracting or spreading the coronavirus.”
This perspective will not be practiced or maintained over the course of the pandemic.
May 20, 2020: conspiracy theory #1 (the microchip)
When lockdowns start, conspiracy theories begin to spread like viruses themselves. The Cardinal and organizations he supports start giving voice to them, and thus give them legitimacy in the eyes of many. In a speech for the Rome Life Forum, Burke says:
“There is a certain movement to insist that now everyone must be vaccinated against the coronavirus… 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 by the state.”
The microchip conspiracy theory had originated on Reddit. Bill Gates had pledged $1.75 billion towards pandemic aid and was answering questions on Reddit. One user asked, “What changes are we going to have to make to how businesses operate to maintain our economy while providing social distancing?” In his response, Gates said, “Eventually we will have some digital certificates to show who has recovered or been tested recently or when we have a vaccine who has received it.” The next day, a Swedish website that advocates for human implantable microchips, wrote on its page, “Bill Gates will use microchip implants to fight coronavirus.” And that’s where the conspiracy came from. No person in a position of power or state leadership is actually arguing for such a microchip. But the Cardinal uses his position of power and authority to spread the falsehood.
In the same speech, Cardinal Burke states that it is “never morally justified to develop a vaccine through the use of cell lines of aborted fetuses. The thought of the introduction of such a vaccine into one’s body is rightly abhorrent.”
September 30, 2020
The Charlotte Lozier Institute confirms that abortion-derived cell lines were not used in the design, development, or production of the Covid vaccines by Pfizer, Moderna, or Novavax. (See also this piece on the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and Catholic responses.)
December 12, 2020: conspiracy theory #2 (the Great Reset)
In a homily for the celebration of the Solemnity of Our Lady of Guadalupe at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wisconsin, Cardinal Burke gives credibility to another conspiracy theory. He says:
“There is the mysterious Wuhan virus about whose nature and prevention the mass media daily give us conflicting information. What is clear, however, is that it has been used by certain forces, inimical to families and to the freedom of nations, to advance their evil agenda. 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 Great Reset” was a term first coined by Prince Charles of Wales in partnership with the World Economic Forum (WEF). In June, they had launched an initiative for a “Great Reset” of how we approach the economy. Prince Charles said, “The pandemic represents a rare but narrow window of opportunity to reflect, reimagine, and reset our world to create a healthier, more equitable, and more prosperous future.” They wanted the WEF to lead initiatives under “the Great Reset” to encourage corporations and governments to voluntarily make positive economic changes. Other world leaders started to use the phrase “the Great Reset” when thinking about how the economic challenges posed by the pandemic could be reframed as an opportunity to imagine more humane economic systems.
But the conspiracy theory promoted by Burke and others holds that the “Great Reset” was an elaborate plot to rule and manipulate the citizens of the world through the overthrow of national economies and the establishment of a single global economy controlled by elites. It further holds that lockdowns and other restrictions were not put in place because of COVID, but because of the plotters behind the “Great Reset.”1
December 17, 2020: the Vatican speaks
The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith states that the COVID vaccines may be taken morally, even “Covid-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process.”
January 10, 2021: the Pope speaks
In an interview, Pope Francis says he believes “that morally everyone must take the vaccine.”
July 10, 2021: contra the Pope
Cardinal Burke has yet to make any positive comments about the COVID vaccine or confirm whether he has received one. Instead, he has voiced thinly-veiled opposition. In a presentation on “Keeping the Catholic Faith in Times of Great Turmoil in the Church,” he takes the time to argue that priests cannot require the vaccine. He says:
“[I]f a pastor teaches that the faithful are bound by the theological virtue of charity to receive a certain vaccine, then the faithful, while duly respecting his person as pastor, are not bound by his teaching or command.”
In this comment, he seems to set himself in opposition to the Pope’s January remarks. Also, remember that in March of 2020, Cardinal Burke had said, “It is a fundamental act of charity to use every prudent means to avoid contracting or spreading the coronavirus.”
August 2021: the Cardinal’s conference
But the Cardinal goes further in disregarding these “prudent means.” He helps lead a conference, where communion on the tongue is required at Mass. In addition, there is a sign above the holy water fonts asking attendees to use them, as they have “a special blessing against contagious viruses.” These were probably his decisions, as he was the conference sponsor and highest-ranking cleric. He later becomes one of the many attendees of the conference to test positive for Covid.
Meanwhile, the man most hated in all the world by the Greatest Catholics of All Time, people who have wished him dead on countless occasions on social media around the world even as they labored at Cardinal Burke’s project of spreading Pandemic and death, had this to say about Cardinal Burke’s diagnosis when the story broke:
I join in those prayers. Because even though Cardinal Burke has fought tooth and nail to help spread a disease that could kill my grandchildren, who are too young to be vaccinated yet, the command of Christ remains, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Mt 5:44). This is not, thanks be to God, a command addressed to my emotions, for I cannot change my feelings toward this man and those like him, nor should I try. That would be a lie. But I can alter my will toward him and pray for his recovery and repentance from the selfish and stupid evil he and so many like him have pursued, and I do. I do not want to spend my life hating my enemies. Nor do I want to fall into the more subtle trap of comparing myself to them and sauteeing myself in my own pride as a result. I want to try to learn how to live in love in a time when the relentlessness of human sin makes that bloody hard. The thing is: there is no time when sin is not relentless, so I have no excuse. It’s love now or never begin because there will never be a time when it isn’t hard.
Thank you, Fr. Martin, for showing me how it’s done.