General Secretary of the USCCB resigns before a media report on sexual misconduct
(Clarification Addendum added July 30, 2021
First, let us clarify that we here at SNAP know that the clergy abuse scandal is not about "homosexuality," although there are some who hold that view. Abuse is not about sex, it is about power and control.
Priests, especially Catholic ones, are put on a pedestal. When a cleric has sex with a parishioner or someone they are counseling, even an adult, there is an imbalance of power and the sex cannot be considered truly consensual. We have seen how much damage this can do to the survivor, and we know of those who have taken their own life in their pain.
Moreover, and perhaps more relevant to this situation, when a Catholic cleric is not honoring his vow of celibacy, he has a secret that must remain hidden to protect his career. However, within the brotherhood of the priesthood, very little is truly secret. One of the systemic problems in the Church is that many clergy cannot report on the smaller number who are preying on children, because they risk their own failing being exposed and losing their vocation.
So, the question for us becomes, when someone is in a position such as Msgr. Jeffrey Burrill was, did he cover up for those who knew his secret? )
Archbishop Jose Gomez, President of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB), today announced the resignation of Monsignor Jeffrey Burrill from his post as the general secretary of the conference. The resignation came ahead of a media report alleging that Msgr. Burrill frequented gay bars and private homes using a popular “hookup” app on his mobile device.
The Pillar reported that an analysis of 'Grindr,' a widely used app for LGBTQ people that allows profiles, preferences, and locations to be exchanged with other interested parties, revealed that the monsignor engaged in "serial sexual misconduct."
What is concerning to us is that Msgr. Burrill was directly involved in informing Pope Francis in October of 2018 on how the USCCB was handling the sexual abuse scandal and clerical cover-ups. The monsignor was the assistant general secretary to the USCCB then and was responsible for relaying conference and diocesan responses to scandals directly to the Vatican.
Although there is no indication that Msgr. Burrill's misconduct involved minors, his sexual behavior certainly created what the USCCB characterized as a "distraction" for the organization. Despite the vow of celibacy, studies have shown that at any given time, only 50% of the clergy are faithful to this vow. The sexual activities of clergy are a dark secret that leads to chronic organizational dysfunction, in our view.
We demand that the USCCB release all the information about investigations Msgr. Burrill was responsible for, oversaw, or over which he may have had influence. These records should be handed over to secular authorities for a proper investigation.
Msgr. Burrill had held the post of general secretary of the USCCB since November of 2020, and was the associate general secretary from 2016 to 2020. The monsigner is a priest from the Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin, where he worked as the pastor of St. Bronislava Church from 2013-2016. Prior to that, he was at the Pontifical North American College in Rome from 2009-2013, first as director of apostolic formation and then as the Carl J. Peter chair of homiletics, formation advisor, and director of media relations. Msgr. Burrill was the pastor of the tri-parishes of St. Mary's, Durand, Holy Rosary, Lima, and Sacred Heart of Jesus in Mondovi, Wisconsin, from 2001 through 2009. He taught and worked as chaplain at Regis High School and Middle School in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, from 1999 to 2001.