After his phone records were traced back to Grindr, a top Catholic priest resigned

After his phone records were traced back to Grindr, a top Catholic priest resigned

Points Highlighted:

  • The Wisconsin-based priest’s alleged “activity” included attending a “gay bathhouse” in Las Vegas.

  • “According to commercially available records of app signal data obtained by The Pillar, a mobile device correlated to Burrill emitted 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, as well as during USCCB meetings and events in other cities,” The Pillar reported. “Data app signals suggest he was at the same time engaged in serial and illicit sexual activity.”

“On Monday, we became aware of impending media reports alleging possible improper behavior by Msgr. Burrill,” Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles wrote in a Tuesday memo obtained by the National Catholic Reporter. “What was shared with us did not include allegations of misconduct with minors. However, in order to avoid becoming a distraction to the operations and ongoing work of the Conference, Monsignor has resigned effective immediately.”

However, a wave of condemnation has adopted The Pillar’s report and its “unethical, homophobic” use of personal data.

(Homosexuality, together with all sexual exercise outdoors of heterosexual marriage, is taken into account a sin in Catholic doctrine.)

“I am a sinner. So are you. So is Msgr. Jeffrey Burrill. Not one of us has a personal life that would withstand the sort of scrutiny The Pillar has applied to Burrill,” Steven P. Millies, director of The Bernardin Center at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, wrote in an op-ed response revealed by the National Catholic Reporter.

grindr-data
Grindr has denied that its data is publicly accessible.
LightRocket through Getty Images
“[The Pillar] 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,” responded Jesuit priest James Martin in a viral Facebook post. “The article, which I will not link to, repeatedly conflated homosexuality with pedophilia, all under the guise of a journalistic ‘investigation.’”

Beyond the spiritual neighborhood, privateness specialists additionally denounced The Pillar’s use of Burrill’s data.

The outlet’s de-anonymizing and public reporting on Burrill’s data — which it acknowledged it obtained utilizing Grindr-based data streams and employed an impartial agency to authenticate — “unleashes this chain that a user cannot stop because they don’t even know that it was collected in the first place and they have no idea where this data actually lives,” Patrick Jackson, chief know-how officer of the privacy-protection agency Disconnect, advised the Washington Post. “But it’s out there, and it’s for sale.” Federal regulation doesn’t prohibit this data from being bought

Grindr, in the meantime, denied that its data was publicly accessible. “The alleged activities listed in that unattributed blog post are infeasible from a technical standpoint and incredibly unlikely to occur,” a Grindr spokeswoman advised the Washington Post in a Tuesday assertion. “There is absolutely no evidence supporting the allegations of improper data collection or usage related to the Grindr app as purported.”

Neither Burrill nor USCCB responded to The Post’s request for remark.

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