The Perils of Social Media

Posted by Censor Librorum on Aug 21, 2021 | Categories: Accountability, Bishops, Humor, Lesbians & Gays, Scandals, Sex

Monsignor Jeffrey Burrill, the former general secretary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, used Grindr, a gay male dating and sex hookup app, at his office, home and while on trips for the USCCB.  In his position at the USCCB, Burrill played a key role in coordinating national and diocesan responses to sex abuse and coercion scandals. He and several senior USCCB officials met with Pope Francis Oct. 8, 2018 to discuss how the conference was responding to ecclesiastical scandals related to sexual misconduct, duplicity, and clerical cover-ups.

On June 20, 2018, the day the McCarrick sex scandal became public, Burrill’s cell phone emitted hookup app signals at the USCCB staff residence, and from a street in a residential Washington neighborhood! He traveled to Las Vegas a day or two later. On June 22, the mobile device associated with Burrill emitted signals from Entourage, which bills itself as Las Vegas’ “gay bathhouse.”

Burrill resigned on July 20, 2021, after The Pillar, a Catholic investigative journalism site, revealed the extent of his almost daily Grindr usage.

“If someone who has made the promise of celibacy or a vow of chastity has a dating app on his or her phone, that is asking for trouble,” said Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, NJ at a Zoom panel organized by Georgetown University.

The Pillar tried to reveal a few more Grindr exposés of priests in the Newark archdiocese and in the Vatican but they were squelched.

Less than a month later, another clerical higher up made the news: “Pope replaces Bishop After Video of Him Masturbating on Zoom Call with Another Man Leaks on Social Media.” Tome Ferreira de Silva, the bishop of the Diocese of Sao Jose do Rio Preto in Brazil, had previously been accused of having an affair with a young man working as his driver and ignoring credible allegations of local priests having sex with teenagers. The video was released to a local TV station.  A still of the video shows the bishop playing with himself.  Several previous Vatican investigations of the bishop came to nothing.

Monsignor Burrill slunk off without saying anything.  Bishop Ferreira de Silva publicly groused about his exposure.

When I read these stories and exposés a favorite saying from Lily Tomlin (another lesbian!) springs to mind:

No matter how cynical I get I can’t keep up!”



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11 Responses to “The Perils of Social Media”

  1. Póló Says:

    They can be outed only because of the Church’s insistence on celibacy and its perverted teaching on homosexuality. Does that ever strike people. Not excusing the hypocrisy but there is a serious systemic flaw here.

  2. Baron Corvo Says:

    Msgr. Burrill has since been returned to ministry, in case anyone’s interested. (Google it.) The ‘rigoristi’ are not pleased!

    I suppose it is a good thing when the ‘rigoristi’ fall to attacking each other instead of ragging on gays and lesbians, but the whole thing leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

    “The Pillar” reportedly spent four million dollars obtaining social media data used to nail Msgr. Burrill. Aside from the Orwellian grotesqueness of this kind of snooping, has poverty and want been so eradicated from the Earth that a supposedly ‘Christian’ organization can afford this kind of high-tech bedsheet sniffing?

    Then again, there is something unseemly about the man being recycled to a parish. This smacks of past treatment of priestly sex abusers. The clergy take care of their own, I guess.

    There is something systemically wrong on many levels here, as Polo remarks above.

  3. Censor Librorum Says:

    Baron Corvo, If I remember correctly, The Pillar’s editors received a donation to pay for their online spying. It seems obvious someone paid so they could make an example out of Msgr. Burrill in order to threaten and intimidate other clerics. I think they ran into a stone wall with Cardinal Tobin of Newark, when they presented him with evidence of Grindr usage in his diocese. I don’t know what happened, but these kinds of stories dried up. I’m sure he assured them if they continued a gigantic sinkhole would open up to swallow all kinds of clerics, including many closeted conservative ones. Blackmail probably happens in more cases than we can imagine and the church pays up. Priests (and bishops, cardinals, monks) are human, and sometimes loneliness and drink get the better of them. As long as it’s with consenting adults, and discreet, most people are happy to look the other way. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment on the posts. I enjoy your thoughts.

  4. Baron Corvo Says:

    I read of something called “The Red Hat Project”, devoted to compiling dossiers of the record–and no doubt the sexual orientation, known or suspected–of American bishops. A threatened club to wave over them, for sure.

    The funny thing is, some of the ‘rigoristi’ (Harvard law professor Adrian Vermuele for one) criticized “The Pillar” and other news outlets that picked up the story for tattling on Msgr. Burrill. They realize that a intramural mud fight would leave many of their own heroes besmeared (see under Martel, Frederic).

    That Vatican fashion plate, Cardinal Raymond Burke, pulled out of collaborating on a proposed documentary based on the book “In the Closet of the Vatican” with Steve Bannon(!) He belatedly found out that Bannon was proposing to dish out ALL the dirt–which would have left Cardinal Burke in bit of a pickle, let us say.

    I agree, what consenting adults–clergy included–do in private is their own business.

    I am awaiting a promised second edition of “In the Closet of the Vatican”. According to the author’s website, there will be a new afterward included in it. The second edition will probably be a corrected version of what reviewer’s say was a rushed and inept English translation. I planned on holding off reading it until then, but I am getting itchy with the long wait.

    M. Martel also used social media metadata to investigate some of the subjects of his book (So much for the charge of ‘hearsay’ tossed at him, mostly by critics too cowardly or lazy to read the book, or the copious notes available online.) I suppose Vatican personnel looking for a quickie will have to resort picking up the hustlers lounging about the Termini Station in Rome–and even the hustlers talk.

    We may as well all walk around in the nude for what there is left of privacy these days.

  5. Baron Corvo Says:

    I stand corrected. The Red Hat Project actually compiles dossiers on the Cardinals of the Catholic Church. No doubt to exert pressure on how the next pope is chosen. Can’t let another reformer get in there!

    Incidentally, comes the news that the lover of fabulous clerical couture Cardinal Burke (see my previous posting) has been deprived of his comfy Vatican apartment and his pension *Ouch!* That’s what you get for spitting in the pope’s eye one too many times.

    Looks like it will be threadbare black suits from here on!

  6. Baron Corvo Says:

    I stand corrected again. The paperback and Kindle editions of Frederic Martel’s “In the Closet of the Vatican” have been out for a while now. These are billed on the covers as “revised and expanded edition[s]”, something not noted in Amazon’s web page on the book.

    The infelicities in the original English translation have been cleaned up, and there is a new Foreword. Merry Christmas to all!

  7. Censor Librorum Says:

    Merry Christmas! What a wonderful gift we received a few days ago from Pope Francis.

  8. Baron Corvo Says:

    The usual suspects are hissing and spitting; I love it!

  9. Censor Librorum Says:

    Sadly, some Catholics are attempting to frame the blessing as an opportunity for chiding the couple, and positioning the blessing to bring the couple the “grace” to live chastely together. Not so! – it is a recognition of the goodness in the relationships of loving same-sex couples and blessing their life together. I think it’s wonderful that priests can now bless our relationships. It is also a recognition that the institutional church is moving on to embrace a new pastoral reality. That change will be hard for the closed who have hidden behind a false morality for years.

  10. Baron Corvo Says:

    Unfortunately, my own reading of the less-wacky ‘rigoristi’ (e.g., First Things, Crisis, the Catholic Thing) indicates that they reject Fiducia Supplicans root-and-branch. They would all rather hold their breath and die than take the first step towards accepting gays and lesbians.

    Like last-ditch Catholic anti-Semites whom they so much resemble, these people wave their stock slurs (“intrinsically disordered!”) around like they were vouchsafed to them by a Dead Sea scroll.

    Fortunately, the laity (at least in Europe, and the Americas) is a lot saner. I guess it was unreasonable to expect a change of heart.

  11. Censor Librorum Says:

    If Heaven is filled with lesbian and gay people, and people who love them, will they refuse to enter?

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