The curious case of Msgr. Jeffrey Burrill is still shrouded in mystery.
Almost a year ago, you may recall, Burill, the general secretary of the U.S. bishop conference, abruptly resigned following media reports that he was an active participant on a gay-sex phone app called "Grindr."
The reports quickly earned him the name "Msgr. Grindr" and created a public relations crisis with the homosexual-friendly U.S. bishop conference.
Bear in mind, the nation's bishops, as a body, warmly embrace homosexuality; they just don't like getting caught doing so, especially when it's discovered one of their own is so active.
But nonetheless, that's where we are. So, in the fallout from the scandal, the bishops spun up their legal teams and produced the usual statements of blather about mercy and love and understanding and guilt or innocence and fairness and all that — hoping to produce sufficient smoke and deflection to kick the can down the road, hoping everyone forgets, which most usually do.
They squirrel these types of men away, quickly getting them out of the limelight, and, then, once the dust has settled, quietly place them back in ministry.
We want to play a segment of our call to the diocese of La Crosse asking his whereabouts, progress on the nearly year-old investigation and just overall what's going on.
We called and told the switchboard receptionist we had questions about the status of Msgr. Burrill and were transferred to a person we were told was handling that. When we were connected to a lady by the name of Debbie, we got stonewalled.
Notice, the diocese denies it's a matter of public concern, but it was the diocese that made it a matter of public concern when it released this statement back in July last year, pointing to the problem with Msgr. Grindr, mentioned in the U.S. bishop conference's public statement about him and the media reports.
Notice also that she kicked it upstairs, saying she didn't have the authority to talk about it — fair enough. But then she quickly added that those who do have the authority just aren't going to talk about it. Ever.
So it's not really a question of who has the authority; it's actually a matter of they refuse to come clean about all this. The claim that this isn't a matter of public concern is absurd on its face.
Recall that Burrill, who worked at the USCCB (which is funded by money from the faithful), lived in USCCB housing funded by the faithful and traveled around on trips all over the country on USCCB business (paid for by the faithful) and used a USCCB phone paid for by the faithful with the gay-sex app on it. How in tarnation does that qualify as not public?
It's kind of the definition of public.
But Bp. William Callahan of the diocese never seems to be available to answer these questions.
So as to the investigation:
He presumably is also in receipt of money originating from the faithful — again — a public matter.
How much is he making? Who's paying for his food, his housing, his insurance? Does he have a phone? Who's paying for it? Is his phone activity being monitored?
But most importantly, does he deny the charges — the entire substance? And, deny or admit, why won't the bishop and his cronies reveal his answer?
That they pretend — or worse, believe — you don't have a right to know any of this because it's not public. That tells you everything you need to know.
Nothing has changed in the Church hierarchy and these chancery staffers when it comes to cleaning things up. If anything, it's gotten worse.