(AP) — Citing allegations of "possible improper behavior," the United States
Conference of Catholic Bishops announced the resignation of its top administrative official, Monsignor Jeffrey Burrill, on Tuesday, ahead of a media
report into his private romantic life.
Shortly after the announcement, the Roman Catholic news
outlet The Pillar published an article based on data “correlated to Burrill’s mobile device” that indicated he had visited gay bars
and private residences while using a gay dating
The Pillar accused Burrill of “serial sexual misconduct
” — homosexuality is considered sinful under Catholic doctrine, and priests are expected to remain celibate.
The USCCB's president
, Los Angeles Archbishop
José Gomez, said in a statement
that conference officials were made aware of the allegations of possible inappropriate behavior on Monday.
“What was shared with us did not include allegations of sexual misconduct with minors,” Gomez said, adding, “However, in order to avoid becoming a distraction to the Conference’s operations and ongoing work
, Monsignor has resigned effective immediately.”
“The Conference takes all allegations of misconduct seriously and will take all necessary steps to address them,” he added.
The USCCB did not issue a statement or a resignation letter from Burrill, but its press office did inform him that The Associated Press
was seeking comment from him.
Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and outspoken advocate for LGBTQ
inclusion in the Catholic Church
, slammed The Pillar's report.
“Priests should obviously keep their promises of celibacy, but Catholic journalists
should not use immoral means to spy on priests,” Martin said. “Because what comes next? Spying
on Catholic school teachers
? Spying on parishioners? And where does it end — when we have a church where no one has ever sinned?”
Burrill was elected general secretary of the USCCB in November 2020, a position in which he coordinated a variety
of administrative matters. He had previously served as associate general secretary since 2016, and prior to that, he was a pastor at several parishes in Wisconsin
, as well as working for four years at the Pontifical North American College
Gomez stated that Rev. Michael Fuller, the current associate general secretary, would serve as an interim replacement for Burrill.
While the USCCB does not have direct authority over the bishops of the United States, it does coordinate many of the church hierarchy's policies, messaging, advocacy, and charitable work.
Burrill is a priest with the Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin, and he most recently completed a background check last year, according to the Diocese.
According to a diocese statement, Bishop William Patrick Callahan and his colleagues are "saddened to hear the media reports related to Msgr. Burrill." The diocese also pledged full cooperation with the USCCB "to pursue all appropriate steps in investigating and addressing the situation."
“Please remember Msgr. Burrill and all who have been affected in your prayers so that they may find refuge and strength in God’s unfailing love,” it concluded.
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