Cardinal Raymond Burke Taken Off Ventilator, to Leave ICU

Pointing to the fact that the cardinal had regained consciousness, Father Paul Check said: ‘His sister spoke with him on the phone this morning, and His Eminence expressed his deep gratitude for the many prayers offered on his behalf.’

Cardinal Raymond Burke
Cardinal Raymond Burke (photo: Edward Pentin)

LA CROSSE, Wis. — Cardinal Raymond Burke has been taken off a ventilator and will leave intensive care today to return to his hospital room, his family has announced.

Father Paul Check, executive director of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wisconsin, confirmed the improvement in the cardinal’s condition in a short statement issued on Saturday. 

The American cardinal, 73, was hospitalized earlier this month, suffering from COVID, and he was placed on a ventilator on Aug. 14, as his condition continued to worsen. Unconfirmed reports began to emerge yesterday suggesting his situation was improving.

“Praised be Jesus Christ!” Father Check wrote. “The Cardinal’s family is pleased to announce that His Eminence has come off the ventilator and will leave the ICU today to return to his hospital room.”

Pointing to the fact that the cardinal had regained consciousness, he added: “His sister spoke with him on the phone this morning, and His Eminence expressed his deep gratitude for the many prayers offered on his behalf.” 

“His family asks that we continue those prayers for his full and speedy recovery, and they are grateful to God for the exceptional medical care the Cardinal has received from the dedicated doctors and nurses who continue to assist him,” Father Check wrote.

The news comes after an outpouring of prayer and affection for the American cardinal following his announcement on Twitter on Aug. 11 that he had tested positive for COVID but was resting and receiving excellent medical care. “Please pray for me as I begin my recovery. Let us trust in Divine Providence. God bless you,” he wrote.

However, concerns grew when his family tweeted on Aug. 15 that the cardinal had been admitted to the hospital and placed on a ventilator. They encouraged the faithful to pray the Rosary for him. Unconfirmed reports the next day suggesting the cardinal’s condition had deteriorated and he was fighting for his life further heightened concerns.

In response to these reports, Father Check issued a statement on Aug. 17, stating the cardinal was in a “serious but stable condition” and receiving “excellent medical and sacramental care.” He remained sedated and on a medical ventilator, Father Check said, but added the family had “great confidence” in the care he was receiving. 

He stressed the family would only issue updates if there were “significant changes” to the cardinal’s condition and urged the faithful to trust in God’s providence. “We should not be afraid of the Cross as the way to eternal life,” he wrote, and he urged that the Rosary be prayed “frequently and fervently.” 

Friends and followers of the cardinal across the world have been praying for his recovery and writing messages of appreciation for him on social media and elsewhere. 

“I join in offering prayer, Mass, and fasting with good Catholic people all over the world for the quick recovery of Cardinal Burke — a dear friend, former professor, and inspiration of mine for almost forty years,” wrote Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco in Crisis Magazine. “I have always been inspired by his charity, intelligence, humility and sheer goodness, coupled with his simple, child-like devotion to Our Lord, our Blessed Mother, and all the saints.”

“Cardinal Burke remains a light and support for many priests and faithful in the current battle for the treasure of the faith and the liturgy,” wrote Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Astana, Kazakhstan. “It is a consoling sign that God is not abandoning His Church in the most difficult hours, as long as there are in our day churchmen like Cardinal Burke. May this fill us with courage and hope.”

In his statement today, released on the eve of the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in the traditional form of the Roman Rite, Father Check said that the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the cardinal’s media “will provide further updates as directed by his family.”