The top administrator of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Father Jeffrey Burrill, resigned last Monday (19), after a data leak revealed that he was a user of Grindr. Launched in 2009, the relationship app is dedicated to the LGBT+ audience.

According to data obtained by the website The Pillar, the priest would have used the application in 2018, 2019 and 2020. The information, acquired from an unidentified seller, also revealed that, in addition to having an account on the platform, the priest frequented gay bars during official business trips.

Burrill’s presence at the sites was deduced by the cell’s geolocation, tracked by Grindr. This type of information, also collected by Tinder and other services, is anonymous but is often sold along with the user’s device ID, age, sex and gender to marketing agencies and other buyers, according to The Washington Post.

Jeffrey Burrill held one of the top positions in the Catholic Church in the US.
Jeffrey Burrill held one of the top positions in the Catholic Church in the US.Source: The New York Post/Reproduction

Specialists interviewed by the publication say that it is possible to discover the identity of a certain user by crossing information, as seems to have happened with Monsignor Burrill. In his case, an independent consultancy, hired by Pillar, authenticated the data.

Grindr denies leaking information

A spokesperson for the LGBT+ dating app called the story involving the priest a “homophobic witch hunt” and denied that its users’ data is for sale. “The purported activities listed in that unassigned site post are technically unfeasible and incredibly unlikely to occur,” he commented.

The representative said there is still “no evidence to support the allegations of collection or misuse of data related to Grindr”, but did not provide further details on the fate of the tracked information.

As for the priest’s resignation, the USCCB said it had accepted the priest’s request and that it will investigate the accusations of misconduct.