1. Top U.S. Catholic Church official resigns after cellphone data used to track him on Grindr and to gay bars, By Michelle Boorstein, Marisa Iati and Annys Shin, The Washington Post, July 21, 2021, 8:21 AM
The top administrator of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops resigned after a Catholic media site told the conference it had access to cellphone data that appeared to show he was a regular user of Grindr, the queer dating app, and frequented gay bars.
Some privacy experts said that they couldn’t recall other instances of phone data being de-anonymized and reported publicly, but that it’s not illegal and will likely happen more as people come to understand what data is available about others.
Monsignor Jeffrey Burrill has since last fall been the general secretary of the USCCB, a position that coordinates all administrative work and planning for the conference, which is the country’s network for Catholic bishops. As a priest, he takes a vow of celibacy. Catholic teaching opposes sexual activity outside heterosexual marriage.

On Monday, the Catholic News Agency — the previous employer of Pillar journalists — published an unsourced story raising issues within the church about privacy and people allegedly tracking members of the clergy to catch those who use hookup apps such as Grindr. The story said “a person concerned with reforming the Catholic clergy approached some Church individuals and organizations” including CNA starting in 2018.
2. Pillar Investigates: USCCB gen sec Burrill resigns after sexual misconduct allegations, By The Pillar, July 20, 2021
Monsignor Jeffrey Burrill, former general secretary of the U.S. bishops’ conference, announced his resignation Tuesday, after The Pillar found evidence the priest engaged in serial sexual misconduct, while he held a critical oversight role in the Catholic Church’s response to the recent spate of sexual abuse and misconduct scandals.
“It is with sadness that I inform you that Msgr. Jeffrey Burrill has resigned as General Secretary of the Conference,” Archbishop Jose Gomez wrote July 20 in a memo to U.S. bishops.
“On Monday, we became aware of impending media reports alleging possible improper behavior by Msgr. Burrill. What was shared with us did not include allegations of misconduct with minors. However, in order to avoid becoming a distraction to the operations and ongoing work of the Conference, Monsignor has resigned effective immediately,” Gomez added.

A priest of the Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin, he began to work at the bishops’ conference as associate general secretary in February 2016. In that capacity, the priest was charged with helping to coordinate the U.S. bishops’ response to the Church’s 2018 sexual abuse and coercion scandals.
But an analysis of app data signals correlated to Burrill’s mobile device shows the priest also visited gay bars and private residences while using a location-based hookup app in numerous cities from 2018 to 2020, even while traveling on assignment for the U.S. bishops’ conference.
According to commercially available records of app signal data obtained by The Pillar, a mobile device correlated to Burrill emitted app data signals from the location-based hookup app Grindr on a near-daily basis during parts of 2018, 2019, and 2020 — at both his USCCB office and his USCCB-owned residence, as well as during USCCB meetings and events in other cities.
3. Concerns raised about using surveillance technology to track clergy, By Alejandro Bermudez, Catholic News Agency, July 19, 2021, 3:00 AM
The prospect of private parties using national security-style surveillance technology to track the movements and activities of bishops, priests, and other Church personnel is raising concerns about civil liberties, privacy rights and what means are ethical to use in Church reform efforts.
The issue was first raised in 2018, when a person concerned with reforming the Catholic clergy approached some Church individuals and organizations, including Catholic News Agency.
This party claimed to have access to technology capable of identifying clergy and others who download popular “hook-up” apps, such as Grindr and Tinder, and to pinpoint their locations using the internet addresses of their computers or mobile devices.
The proposal was to provide this information privately to Church officials in the hopes that they would discipline or remove those found to be using these technologies to violate their clerical vows and possibly bring scandal to the Church.
CNA and others at the time declined this party’s offer, but there are reports this week that information targeting allegedly active homosexual priests may become public.
4. Grueling itinerary set for pope’s first post-surgery trip, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, July 21, 2021, 8:18 AM
The Vatican on Wednesday announced a grueling itinerary for Pope Francis’ first post-surgery foreign trip, scheduling around-the-clock encounters and hopscotching flights for his Sept. 12-15 visit to Hungary and Slovakia.
Francis, 84, had already confessed that during his last trip, to Iraq in March, he felt the weight of his years and thought he might need to slow down his normally rigorous travel schedule.

Nevertheless, the trip itinerary released Wednesday indicated no slowdown. In fact, it included separate encounters with Jewish groups, Roma and even the Slovakian president of the parliament which go beyond the basic contingent of religious and political events that are usually included in a papal visit.
5. Catholic clerics struggle to avoid partisan politics. Evangelical leaders dive right in. Why the difference?, By L. Felipe Mantilla, The Washington Post, July 21, 2021, 7:00 AM, Opinion
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) recently made headlines by voting to draft a “formal statement on the meaning of the Eucharist in the life of the Church.” Such a statement could have resulted in priests withholding holy Communion from politicians who support abortion rights — virtually all of whom are Democrats, including President Biden. After a few days of public discussion about such a potentially partisan move, the bishops released a statement saying, “There will be no national policy on withholding Communion from politicians.”
These events shed light on the political divisions in contemporary U.S. Catholicism. As Ross Douthat recently argued, lay Catholic intellectuals increasingly divide along complex ideological lines, and these divisions can push factions in partisan directions. Despite these trends, Catholic clerical leadership typically balks at taking stances that could be interpreted as partisan — even as it seeks to advance its principles in public life. By contrast, evangelical clerics are far more likely to embrace explicitly partisan positions, overwhelmingly in favor of Republican candidates.
Why are these approaches so different? In my new book, I find that various religious communities’ very different structures shape their relationships with political parties. Counterintuitively, I found that centralized, hierarchical faith communities are more likely to resist aligning themselves with political parties than their decentralized, egalitarian counterparts. That’s why Catholic clergy tend to resist partisan co-optation while Sunni Muslims and evangelical Protestants tend not to align themselves with political parties, as I’ll explain.
L. Felipe Mantilla is an associate professor and St. Petersburg campus associate chair of political science in the School of Interdisciplinary Global Studies at the University of South Florida, and author of “How Political Parties Mobilize Religion: Lessons from Mexico and Turkey” (Temple University Press, 2021).
6. Indicted Italian cardinal wants his day in court … more than one, actually, By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, July 21, 2021, Opinion
Though it hardly made a dent in the weekend’s news cycle given Pope Francis’s bombshell crackdown on the Latin Mass, Italian Cardinal Angelo Becciu announced his latest lawsuit Saturday, in this case suing an Italian newspaper called La Verità for defamation over a report regarding movements of money in Becciu’s home diocese in Sardinia.

Though it’s difficult to keep an accurate count, the lawsuit against La Verità appears to be one of around ten Becciu has either filed, or threatened to file, against various press outlets and individuals. Most notably, Becciu has filed one defamation lawsuit demanding $12 million in damages and threatened at least four more against L’Espresso, sort of the Time magazine of Italy.

Depending on how Becciu’s lawsuits fare, they raise the deeply intriguing prospect that two different courts could be asked to adjudicate basically the same set of facts, one a Vatican tribunal and another an Italian secular court, either simultaneously or sequentially.
In effect, Becciu’s hope appears to be to ensure two bites at the apple – defending himself vigorously before the Vatican tribunal, but simultaneously demanding that a different court, one that doesn’t work for the pope, provide another set of eyes.

In any event, one point seems clear: No matter what the Vatican tribunal decides, it’s unlikely to be the last word in Angelo Becciu’s already improbable story.
7. Summit aims to build ‘global movement’ for religious freedom, By John Lavenburg, Crux, July 21, 2021
Looking back on the 2021 International Religious Freedom Summit, co-chair Sam Brownback believes it accomplished the goal of building relationships between global religious leaders and laying a foundation for what he hopes will be a “global movement.”
“These are people that may have never met before, and if they have it’s been at a place or in a way that didn’t facilitate relationship building,” Brownback told Crux. “If we can get religious leaders to stand up for each other, I really believe we can start to address these problems and reach every religion that’s a majority somewhere but a minority someplace else.”
From July 13-15, the inaugural three-day summit brought together religious and civil leaders from around the world to address religious persecution. Brownback, the former Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, co-chaired the event alongside Katrina Lantos Swett, the former chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
8. The left keeps trying to codify Roe. This time, it’s also slashing RFRA, The Equality Act is finding new life in other bills, By Sarah Parshall Perry, The Washington Times, July 21, 2021, Pg. B4, Opinion
E arlier this year, conservatives nationwide used a tremendous amount of powder targeting the Equality Act — and with good reason. The act represents an unprecedented leftwing power grab that would not only enshrine a new sexual orthodoxy but would unilaterally re-define federal anti-discrimination law.
Worse, it would eliminate Americans’ right to use the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) to defend themselves against specious claims that they’ve discriminated against someone.
The Equality Act may be stalled at the moment, but it isn’t dead. And unbeknownst to many conservatives who heard much about the act, House and Senate Democrats have also introduced S.1021, the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance Act (EACH Act), which would eliminate RFRA’s protection from efforts to expand so-called abortion rights.
Sponsored in the upper chamber by Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and 28 of her progressive co-sponsors, the bill would require federal health care programs like Medicaid or the Federal Employees Health Benefit Plan to provide coverage for abortion services. It would also force federal facilities to provide access to those services – and, to pay for them, permit qualified health plans to use the Health Insurance Marketplace tax credit, which was designed to help low-income individuals afford health insurance.

With the EACH Act’s explicit exemption from RFRA’s application, thoughtful Americans might more easily recognize that, despite assertions to the contrary, abortion advocacy has never been about “safe, legal, rare.” It’s about party lines and progressive activism.
Sarah Parshall Perry is a Legal Fel-low in the Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foun-dation (heritage.org).
9. The nine questions that sealed the fate of the Latin Mass, By Inés San Martín, Crux, July 20, 2021
Last Friday, Pope Francis rolled back what some considered his predecessor’s olive branch to traditionalist Catholics by severely restricting celebration of the old Latin Mass. The move essentially reversed a liberalization of the older rite decreed by Pope emeritus Benedict XVI in 2007.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican’s doctrinal watchdog agency, sent a questionnaire, at the pope’s request, to bishops’ conferences last year. Crux obtained a copy of the survey, titled “consultation of bishops on the application of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum.”

The survey contained nine questions:
What is the situation in your diocese with respect to the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite?
If the extraordinary form is practiced there, does it respond to a true pastoral need or is it promoted by a single priest?
In your opinion, are there positive or negative aspects of the use of the extraordinary form?
Are the norms and conditions established by Summorum Pontificum respected?
Does it occur to you that, in your diocese, the ordinary form has adopted elements of the extraordinary form?
For the celebration of the Mass, do you use the Missal promulgated by Pope John XXIII in 1962?
Besides the celebration of the Mass in the extraordinary form, are there other celebrations (for example Baptism, Confirmation, Marriage, Penance, Unction of the sick, Ordination, Divine Office, Easter Triduum, funeral rites) according to the liturgical books prior to Vatican Council II?
Has the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum had an influence on the life of seminaries (the seminary of diocese) and others formation houses?
Thirteen years after the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, what is your advice about the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite?

To date, the Vatican has not revealed exactly how many bishops around the world actually received the survey, and, of that number, how many chose to respond.
10. ‘The Last Acceptable Prejudice’, Father James Martin isn’t quick to call out bias against his faith. But sometimes people go too far., By Emma Green, The Atlantic, July 20, 2021
In early July, The New York Times published two articles that had seemingly little to do with one another. One covered the Entomological Society of America’s decision to stop using the terms gypsy moth and gypsy ant. The other was about a new movie by the director Paul Verhoeven featuring an affair between two 17th-century nuns. “Forgive them, Father, for they have sinned,” the article begins. “Repeatedly! Creatively! And wait until you hear what they did with that Virgin Mary statuette.”
“When I read that article in the morning over my yogurt and cranberry juice, I couldn’t believe what I was reading. It was just disgusting,” Father James Martin, a Jesuit priest and writer, told me. He was talking about the movie, not the moths. He found it striking that the Times would deferentially cover a language shift meant to show respect for Roma people but would also print a story that relished a film scene in which a holy Catholic object is defiled. “Anti-Catholicism is the last acceptable prejudice,” he wrote on Twitter, linking to an article he wrote 20 years ago that explores why some Americans still treat Catholics with suspicion or contempt. His argument, then and now, is that it’s acceptable in secular, liberal, elite circles—such as The New York Times—to make fun of Catholicism, particularly the Church’s emphasis on hierarchy, dogma, and canon law and its teachings related to sex.
Martin is well known in the American Catholic world for his relatively progressive approach to issues that have split the Church, including advocating for greater Catholic acceptance of LGBTQ people. As a result, he’s a frequent target of opprobrium from many of the conservative Catholics who tend to protest anti-Catholicism most loudly, which is why I wanted to talk with Martin: He is deploying arguments similar to those of his critics. We are living in an era when newsrooms are revising their style guides to be more sensitive about racegender, and sexuality; flippant comments perceived as bigotry can cost people their job; and entomological societies are scouring their insect rosters for pejorative names. Yet, some aspects of identity and belief still seem to be fair game for mockery.
11. Federal judge blocks Arkansas law banning most abortions, By Andrew Demillo, Associated Press, July 20, 2021, 10:44 PM
A federal judge on Tuesday blocked an Arkansas law banning nearly all abortions in the state while she hears a challenge to its constitutionality.
U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker issued a preliminary injunction preventing enforcement of the law, which was set to take effect on July 28. The measure was passed this year by the majority-Republican Legislature and signed by GOP Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
The ban allows the procedure to save the life of the mother in a medical emergency and does not provide exceptions for those impregnated in an act of rape or incest.
TCA Media Monitoring provides a snapshot from national newspapers and major Catholic press outlets of coverage regarding significant Catholic Church news and current issues with which the Catholic Church is traditionally or prominently engaged. The opinions and views expressed in the articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Catholic Association.
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