Fr. Raymond J. de Souza: Msgr. Burrill’s Resignation and the Surveillance Age: 5 Points to Consider

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Monsignor Jeffrey Burrill reads a tally during the USCCB June meeting. (photo: USCCB/Youtube)

COMMENTARY: No harm, no foul may apply in sports. No crime, no foul does not apply in the life of the Church.

By Father Raymond J. de Souza, EWTN News, July 23, 2021

Father Raymond J. de SouzaThe resignation of Msgr. Jeffrey Burrill, general secretary of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, is another gut-punch for Catholics. That sin abounds is old news — and grace abounds all the more, St. Paul reminds us — but still the whole matter stings.

There are at least five important matters raised by the Burrill resignation.

Digital Surveillance 

Msgr. Burrill resigned after The Pillar Catholic news website gathered data that showed that Msgr. Burrill’s mobile phone was used to access Grindr, a “hook-up” app that puts users in contact with others in the same location desiring anonymous sexual encounters. Grindr bills itself as “the largest social media network for gay, bi, trans and queer people.” The Pillar obtained the tracking data, which is commercially available and is gathered by Grindr; users give Grindr permission to track them in order to find available partners nearby.

The Pillar concluded that the tracking data constituted “evidence of a pattern of sexual misconduct.”

The Pillar “de-anonymized” the data to show that Burrill was using the app in various places, including a “gay bathhouse” in Las Vegas. The Pillar’s methods are not illegal, but have raised ethical concerns. Critics of The Pillar story did not coincide neatly with conservative/progressive divisions on other issues. …