VATICAN CITY (RNS) — Citing “improper behavior,” the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops announced the resignation of its general secretary, Monsignor Jeffrey Burrill, in a statement released on Tuesday (July 20).
“On Monday, we became aware of impending media reports alleging possible improper behavior by Msgr. Burrill,” read the statement, signed by the president of the bishops’ conference, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles.
The USCCB’s statement said the information the conference received “did not include allegations of misconduct with minors.”
According to the statement, Burrill resigned from his post “effective immediately” to not disrupt the ongoing work of the USCCB. The bishops’ conference said it would “pursue appropriate steps” to address the allegations of misconduct.
The USCCB is currently studying the creation of a document addressing the Eucharist, which stirred controversy in light of several bishops’ view that U.S. President Joe Biden, who is Catholic, should desist or be denied from taking the sacrament in light of his policies on abortion and LGBTQ issues.
Burrill was elected general secretary of the USCCB in November 2020. The position oversees administrative and staff matters in the conference. He held numerous positions at the North American College in Rome and later served as a pastor in a Wisconsin diocese.
The Rev. Michael Fuller, currently associate general secretary of the USCCB, will serve as interim general secretary until the bishops elect a new one, according to the statement.
“I ask for your prayers for Monsignor, and for the Conference staff during this difficult time. We also pray that all those affected might find strength and comfort in our merciful Lord,” the statement concluded.
In an article published Monday, the EWTN-owned Catholic News Agency said it had received an offer in 2018 from individuals who claimed to have access to technology capable of tracking priests who download dating apps. While the news organization said it declined the proposal at the time, it warned in Monday’s article that “there are reports this week that information targeting allegedly active homosexual priests may become public.” The article did not mention Burrill.
The USCCB statement did not make reference to the CNA article nor elaborate on what alleged improper behavior Burrill was accused of.
Shortly after the statement by the USCCB, the Catholic news outlet The Pillar published an article reporting acts of “sexual misconduct” by Burrill. The article said it acquired the information from a third party that tracked Burrill’s mobile device. The data allegedly shows Burrill using the gay dating app Grindr “on a near-daily basis” in periods between 2018 and 2020, and suggests he visited gay clubs.
The article does not report that Burrill did anything illegal, but homosexual acts are considered a sin according to Catholic teaching and ordained priests are required to make a vow of celibacy.