After he was on a ventilator in intensive care, Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke is now out of the hospital and is making "steady" but "slow" progress in his recovery from COVID-19, he said in a statement Sunday night.
Burke, an outspoken conservative and vaccine skeptic who served as bishop to the Diocese of La Crosse from 1995-2004, was diagnosed with COVID-19 in early August, and several days later placed on a ventilator and sedated. He had since been taken off the support and was being moved to a regular hospital room.
In his statement Sunday, Burke said he was still rebuilding strength and energy, and would likely still need "several weeks" of recovery.
"Although I am making steady progress, it is slow," Burke said in his statement.
"The doctors and therapists who direct the program of rehabilitation assure me that it is necessarily so and that I am doing well," he said. "My principal challenges, at the present, are regaining certain fundamental physical skills needed for my daily living, and overcoming a general fatigue and difficulty in breathing, which are typical for this who have suffered the contagion of the COVID-19 virus."
According to Burke, he was discharged from the hospital on Sept. 3, and is working towards recovery near his family. His priest secretary has traveled from Rome to assist him with his rehabilitation, he said.
"I cannot predict when I will be able to return to my normal activities," Burke said. "Seemingly, it will be several more weeks."
Throughout the pandemic Burke, a Richland Center native, has been a vocal skeptic of the vaccine and virus safeguards. He has referred to the virus as the "Wuhan virus," has said it's been used to advance an "evil agenda," and has opposed social distancing and vaccine mandates.
Burke has also been a steadfast conservative voice within the Catholic Church, speaking out against Democrats and liberal ideals, and clashing with the more progressive-leaning Pope Francis.
In his statement Burke continued to ask for prayers for his recovery, and said he is not able to respond to individual communications and was limited phone calls and personal visits, saying he had to "concentrate my limited energy on regaining my forces."
It is still unclear if Burke had been vaccinated against COVID-19.