The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has announced the resignation of a top administrator after he was linked to gay bars and apps.
On July 20, it was announced that Jeffrey Burrill had resigned as General Secretary of the Conference because of ‘possible improper behavior.’
The Pillar reported that the priest’s phone had ‘app data signals from the location-based hookup app Grindr on a near-daily basis during parts of 2018, 2019, and 2020 — at both his USCCB office and his USCCB-owned residence.’
— Christopher White (@cwwhite212) July 20, 2021
It has been confirmed the priest has stood down, although no charges have been pressed against him for legal wrongdoing. Nonetheless, the Catholic Church still looks at homosexuality as a sin.
The incident has raised several moral questions about the data that can be found through applications.
The Washington Post noted that most information is typically stripped in applications like Grindr but it can contain everything from age, gender and ID. As a result, experts can extrapolate this data, leading to incidents like this one.
Others have questioned the ethics around the initial news report about Burrill. Fr. James Martin, SJ blasted The Pillar for its reporting:
What did the article do? It spied on Msgr. Burrill (more accurately, it using “mined data” from an unnamed source who spied on him) to reveal that, apparently, he had broken his promise of celibacy. The article, which I will not link to, repeatedly conflated homosexuality with pedophilia, all under the guise of a journalistic ‘investigation.’
The Pillar has yet to comment on the accusations made against its practices.