Msgr. Jeffrey Burrill, a priest of the Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin, resigned as the general secretary of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops earlier this month.
According to The Pillar, a website operated by Catholic journalist J.D. Flynn, Burrill had been using over a period of three years an app called Grindr. The app is popular among active homosexuals seeking to engage in sodomy with others.
Burrill was ordained for the diocese in 1998 and was tasked with overseeing the USCCB’s response to sex abuse scandals in recent years. He frequented bars and bathhouses known for welcoming gay men, The Pillar reported, relying on commercially available signal data.
In response to Burrill’s resignation, La Crosse Bishop William Callahan issued a letter to priests in the diocese, urging them to “pray” for Burrill and not jump to any conclusions regarding his behavior.
“The media reports establish no facts in truth about Jeff’s behavior either innocent or not,” he claimed.
Bishop Callahan: "The media reports establish no facts in truth about Jeff’s behavior either innocent or not."
The same bishop who stripped Fr. Altman of his faculties is quick to defend his friend Msgr. Burrill, caught hooking up w/men on Grindr.
The network protects its own. pic.twitter.com/FR2f0KbGQs
— Christine Niles (@ChristineNiles1) July 24, 2021
Liberal Catholics like pro-LGBT priest Fr. James Martin responded to The Pillar’s efforts with consternation.
Apparently more upset over how the website obtained the data than Burrill’s behavior, Martin tweeted the following:
Regardless of the actions of the priest who was forced to resign today, is there any indication that an actual "investigation" took place? Or did these writers simply buy data from an unscrupulous source, and one possibly breaking the law? One has to ask: "Cui bono?"
— James Martin, SJ (@JamesMartinSJ) July 20, 2021
But not a few Catholics have brought attention to the apparent double standard in Callahan’s treatment of Fr. James Altman and Msgr. Burrill. Altman had his priestly faculties suspended earlier this month for being “ineffective and divisive.”
In an article for LifeSiteNews, reporter Doug Mainwaring wondered, “Will Bishop Callahan now likewise suspend Burrill who repeatedly used the gay hook-up app … and has been shown to have repeatedly visited gay bars … even while traveling on assignment for the USCCB?”
“Or is the homosexuality of one of his priests not as troubling for Bishop Callahan as Fr. Altman’s crystal-clear orthodoxy?”
A spokesperson for Callahan provided no clear answer when LifeSiteNews asked if Burrill would be subjected to the same strict punishment as Altman.
Fr. Raymond de Souza explained that since Burrill resigned from the USCCB, Callahan is now responsible for deciding what “investigation and possible penalties, if any, are administered.”
“More to the point, if Bishop Callahan does not subject Msgr. Burrill, as different as their canonical cases may be, to the same severe restrictions he placed upon Fr. Altman, it may confirm the suspicions of those who think that justice in the Church is applied in an uneven and unfair fashion,” he wrote.
At the time of this story’s publication, Burrill was still a priest in good standing with the Diocese of La Crosse.
Stephen Kokx, M.A., is a journalist for LifeSiteNews. He previously worked for the Archdiocese of Chicago under the late Francis Cardinal George. A former community college instructor, Stephen has written and spoken extensively about Catholic social teaching and politics. His essays have appeared in such outlets as Catholic Family News and CatholicVote.org.