NEW YORK (AP) – Citing allegations of “possible inappropriate behavior,” the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on Tuesday announced the resignation of its top administrative official, Monsignor Jeffrey Burrill, ahead of a media report that probed his private love life.
Shortly after the announcement, Roman Catholic media outlet The Pillar published his article on the database which he said was “correlated with Burrill’s mobile device” and said he had visited gay bars. and private residences using a popular gay dating app.
The pillar alleged “serial sexual misconduct” by Burrill – homosexual activity is considered a sin under Catholic doctrine, and priests are expected to remain celibate.
The Archbishop of Los Angeles, José Gomez, president of the USCCB, said in a statement that conference officials learned of the allegations of possible inappropriate behavior on Monday.
“What was shared with us did not include allegations of misconduct with minors,” Gomez said. “However, in order to avoid becoming a distraction from the ongoing operations and work of the Conference, Monsignor resigned with immediate effect.”
“The Conference takes all allegations of misconduct seriously and will take all appropriate measures to address them,” he added.
The USCCB has not issued any statement or letter of resignation from Burrill; his press office said he would let Burrill know that the Associated Press was seeking to provide him with his comments.
The Reverend James Martin, a Jesuit priest and leading advocate for greater LGBTQ inclusion in the Catholic Church, criticized The Pillar’s report.
“Priests must obviously keep their promises of celibacy. But Catholic journalists should not use immoral means to spy on priests, ”Martin said. “Because what comes next?” Spy on Catholic school teachers? Spy on parishioners? And where does it end – when we have a church where no one has ever sinned? The church will be empty.
Burrill was elected in November 2020 General Secretary of the USCCB, a position in which he coordinated various administrative matters. He had been Associate Secretary General since 2016, and before that, he was pastor in several parishes in Wisconsin. He also previously worked for four years at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.
Gomez said Burrill would be replaced on an interim basis by Reverend Michael Fuller, the current associate secretary general.
Although the USCCB does not have direct authority over the bishops of the country, it coordinates many policies, messages, advocacy and charities of the church hierarchy.
As a priest, Burrill is affiliated with the Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin, which said it recently performed a background check last year.
A statement from the diocese said Bishop William Patrick Callahan and his colleagues “are saddened to hear media reports regarding Bishop Burrill. He has pledged to cooperate fully with the USCCB” to take all appropriate action to investigate and resolve the situation “.
“Please remember Mgr. Burrill and all who are touched by your prayers that they may find refuge and strength in the unwavering love of God, ”he concluded.
The Associated Press’s religious coverage receives support from the Lilly Endowment via The Conversation US. The AP is solely responsible for this content.
Calling all HuffPost superfans!
Sign up to become a founding member and help shape the next chapter of HuffPost