Catholic Official Resigns After Phone Data Tracked Him On Grindr

(image via Mart Production/Pexels)

A high ranking official for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) resigned his position after the conference was approached by a Catholic media outlet purporting to have cellphone data indicating he regularly used Grindr, the gay dating app.

The Pillar, an online newsletter that reports on the Catholic Church, published its claims about Monsignor Jeffrey Burrill and the alleged Grindr use on Tuesday. The post also contends that Burrill “engaged in serial sexual misconduct” as well as frequented “gay bars and private residences.”

Burrill, a priest from the La Crosse, Wisconsin, diocese resigned from his position as general secretary from USCCB on the same day. As general secretary of the USCCB, Burrill was responsible for coordinating administrative work and planning for the conference, which is the country’s network for Catholic bishops.

USCCB spokeswoman Chieko Noguchi told the Washington Post it was Burrill’s decision to resign after being notified of The Pillar’s allegations of “improper behavior.”

The Pillar says an independent firm had authenticated “commercially available records” based on data Grindr collects from its users.

“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,” reported The Pillar.

The “commercially available” signal data doesn’t include users’ names but instead correlates a specific numerical identifier assigned to each mobile device. Privacy experts say it’s possible to identify a specific cellphone by checking locations an individual may frequent like their home or workplace.

So, it would appear, someone searched through the “obtained and analyzed data” looking at Burrill’s residence and office space and noted the identifier.

The report went on to conflate homosexuality with pedophilia in an extremely heavy-handed manner even though there doesn’t appear to be any evidence Burrill was in contact with minors through his use of Grindr.

The Washington Post reports experts “have long raised concerns about ‘anonymized’ data collected by apps (like Grindr) and sold to or shared with aggregators and marketing companies.”

A spokesperson for Grindr described the report by The Pillar as “homophobic” and told the Post the data described in the story couldn’t be publicly accessed.

“The alleged activities listed in that unattributed blog post are infeasible from a technical standpoint and incredibly unlikely to occur,” said the representative in a statement. “There is absolutely no evidence supporting the allegations of improper data collection or usage related to the Grindr app as purported.”

Podcast: Catholics Defy Vatican, Skittles Loses Rainbow For Pride, More States Ban Gay Panic Defense

The Randy Report podcast delivers the week's top stories in a quick, convenient podcast - 'the 60 Minutes of gay news - only shorter'

The Randy Report podcast delivers the week's top stories in a quick, convenient podcast - 'the 60 Minutes of gay news - only shorter'

In this week’s headlines:

• Catholic priests in Germany defy the Vatican and bless same-sex unions

• GLAAD looks at social media safety for LGBTQ users

• A 20-year-old gay man was beheaded by his own family in a brutal ‘honor killing’ in Iran

• The gay panic defense is banned in two more states…and counting

• Skittles defers to the true “rainbow” for Pride Month

• New music from out singer/songwriter Milahroy ‘Daylight’ (Link to music video)

All that and more in this episode of The Randy Report

Pope Says Church Cannot Bless Same-Sex Marriages Because God ‘Doesn’t Bless Sin’

Pope Francis (image via public domain)

Although Pope Francis has made “welcoming” comments regarding LGBTQ people and the Catholic Church in the past, a new statement from the Vatican makes clear the Church will not bless same-sex unions because God “cannot bless sin.”

From AP News:

The Vatican’s orthodoxy office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, issued a formal response to a question about whether Catholic clergy have the authority to bless gay unions. The answer, contained in a two-page explanation published in seven languages and approved by Pope Francis, was “negative.”

The note distinguished between the church’s welcoming and blessing of gay people, which it upheld, but not their unions.

It argued that such unions are not part of God’s plan and that any sacramental recognition of them could be confused with marriage.

The Catholic Church maintains that “marriage is a lifelong union between a man and woman, is part of God’s plan and is intended for the sake of creating new life.”

In a documentary released last October,  the Pope said in an interview that he endorses the idea of same-sex unions in the form of civil unions but not “marriage.”

“Homosexual people have the right to be in a family,” Pope Francis said at the time. “They are children of God.”

News Round-Up: January 25, 2021

Matthew Camp speaks out about the recent arson attack that destroyed his home
Matthew Camp (image via Instagram)

Some news items you might have missed:

NewNowNext: Porn star Matthew Camp speaks out about the recent early morning arson attack that destroyed his home. “I don’t have any enemies that I know of,” Camp says gently. “But I’m a gay sex worker who bought a house that used to be owned by a Satanist. I don’t know who did it, but it’s not hard to guess why they would.”

The Advocate: A group of eight U.S. Catholic Bishops released a statement in support of LGBTQ+ people, saying that, “God created you, God loves you and God is on your side.” A ninth Bishop later signed on as well.

Out Music: Openly gay artist J.R. Price has released a duet featuring his childhood hero, out singer/songwriter Tom Goss titled “Dance with Me”, a bluesy love song about the power dance has to bring a couple together before the world breaks them apart.

“The song chronicles that moment when a couple is fighting, and it doesn’t even make sense for them to stay together a second longer, but with a simple dance, they realize they can’t part because the attachment is too powerful,” explains Price. The track is available now.

Gothamist: The co-owner of a pub who refused to follow COVID-19 health restrictions has avoided a felony charge of second degree assault on an officer. On December 6, 2020, he drove into a sheriff’s deputy who tried to detain him breaking both the officer’s legs.

NBC News: The Kissimmee Police Department says it verified 30 screenshots of Facebook posts made by Officer Andrew Johnson in support of the Capitol riots, and disparaging the Black Lives Matter movement. And then the department fired him.

CNBC: Funny how ashamed these folks are after getting arrested. Garrett Miller (above) has been charged with invading the Capitol on January 6 and calling for the assassination of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. He’s very sorry now and he adds he was just following then-President Donald Trump’s orders.

Supreme Court May Rule In Favor Of Adoption Agency That Won’t Work With LGBTQ Couples

(stock photo via Depositphotos)

After hearing arguments in a case involving LGBTQ discrimination and foster parenting in Philadelphia, the Supreme Court appeared to lean in favor of a Roman Catholic adoption agency that wouldn’t certify same-sex couples to foster children.

From CNBC:

The adoption agency case (Fulton v. City of Philadelphia) arose after the city of Philadelphia learned in 2018 that Catholic Social Services, a foster care services provider affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church, would not certify same-sex couples as suitable parents for children in the city’s foster care system.

After Philadelphia learned about CSS’ policy, the city stopped referring the group new children, citing a city law prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination, and updated its 2019 contract with foster care services providers to explicitly forbid such discrimination against potential parents.

Catholic Social Services argues that Philadelphia’s exclusion of it from the city’s foster care system amounts to religious discrimination, in violation of the First Amendment’s protections for religious exercise.

This case is the first to come before newly-confirmed Justice Amy Coney Barrett. Barrett’s history of anti-LGBTQ views were raised during her Senate confirmation hearings last month.

Biden Claps Back At ‘Catholic In Name Only’ Smear By Lou Holtz

Former Vice President Joe Biden (screen capture)

Lou Holtz, longtime Notre Dame football coach and Donald Trump ally, used part of his speech during the Republican National Convention last night to attack former Vice President Joe Biden as a “Catholic in name only.”

Biden, who attends mass every week and has been public about how he personally embraces his faith, clapped back today during an appearance on MSNBC.

From The Hill:

“I think it’s kind of preposterous to a guy who hardly ever darkens the door of a church,” Biden told MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports,” in a reference to President Trump.

Biden said that he distinguishes his personal beliefs from policies he sets to implement for everyone.

“My private beliefs relative to how I would deal with the church doctrine is different than my imposing that doctrine on every other person in the world — equally decent Christians and Jews and Muslims and Buddhists, etc.,” he said.

“But the point of the matter is I’m a practicing Catholic, I don’t proselytize about it, I never miss mass,” he added. “It’s part of who I am. It’s what gets me through the really difficult times in my life, and I believe it very strongly.”

Remember, Biden’s opponent has told people publicly he likes to grab women “by the p*ssy.” So, I don’t know that I’d be attacking Biden on the faith level.

Back in the 2016 election, Trump couldn’t name one Bible verse as his ‘favorite.’

News Round-Up: April 29, 2020

I’m a little late getting this News Round-Up out, so rather than make you wait while I scour the Gram of Insta for an InstaHunk, you get this pic of me from this morning before the day got away from me. Just want to let you know we’re still kicking out here in Las Vegas and I hope everyone’s going great as we close out Hump Day.

Here are a few news items you might have missed:

The Advocate: After teaching English for 23 years at Archbishop Alter High School in a suburb of Dayton, Ohio, a teacher has been notified his contract will not be renewed for the coming school year because he’s married to his husband.

Gay City News: LGBTQ groups in Morocco are encouraging gay men to get rid of the Grindr accounts after a social media influencer encouraged people to use the app’s location data to identify gay locals.

Out Music: After years battling a debilitating chronic pain condition, out indie artist Stefan Alexander recently released his first new music since 2016. Check out the pop-synth title track from his new EP, Cry Again.

Cry Again is sort of the aftermath and getting back in touch with my emotions, all these emotions I had bottled up for so long and didn’t allow myself to feel,” Alexander shared with American Songwriter earlier this year.

Washington Post: U.S. intelligence agencies issued warnings about the novel coronavirus in more than a dozen classified briefings prepared for President Trump in January and February, months during which he continued to play down the threat, according to current and former U.S. officials.

KIT212: For this week’s edition of ‘Wrestle Wednesdays,’ Kenneth notes “there’s so much going on in this scene you have to see it for yourself.” In addition to the athlete, that coach can seriously wear some pants…

 

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$84 Million Paid To 564 Victims Of PA Catholic Church Sex Abuse

(image via Jack Sharp/Unsplash)

In the aftermath of a landmark grand jury report on sexual abuse by Catholic clergy, Pennsylvania’s Roman Catholic dioceses have paid out almost $84 million to 564 victims of sexual abuse.

The Associated Press reports seven of the Keystone state’s eight dioceses organized victim compensation funds after the release of the August 2018 grand jury report showed hundreds of priests had molested over 1,000 children since the 1940s.

One diocese, in Altoona-Johnstown, has no compensation fund saying it lacks the funds after paying out $15.7 million in an earlier clergy abuse scandal.

In addition to the abuse, the grand jury report also indicates church leaders had systematically worked to cover up the abuse.

According to the AP, the average payout to victims across the seven dioceses has been slightly more than $148,000. But that’s well below what an adult victim of childhood abuse would expect to see had they been able to sue in court.

Claims administrator Camille Biros, who was hired to handle the claims for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia as well as Allentown, Erie, Pittsburgh and Scranton dioceses, told the AP, “These are all time-barred claims, so it’s not going to be the kind of numbers one sees in a courtroom.”

Pennsylvania state law limits such lawsuits to those victims under 30 years of age. State lawmakers had announced plans to amend such laws but there’s no guarantee any changes will materialize.

Biros says compensation payouts are based on “the nature of the abuse, how long it went on, the age of the child, (and) the effect of the abuse.”

But some claims are rejected due to lack of evidence or not meeting eligibility criteria.

One man who allowed his name to be used in the reporting is David Zernhelt, who tells the AP he was offered $400,000 by the diocese of Allentown and accepted it.

Zernhelt says he wasn’t willing to trust lawmakers to pass a legislative fix to the state laws any time soon.

“It doesn’t make me rich,” said the 45-year-old of Easton. “It creates a positive starting point for me. I can try to make my life a little bit better and put this behind me.”

Zernhelt told the administrators of the Allentown fund that Rev. Thomas Kerestus sexually assaulted him two to four times a week for five years. The abuse began when Zernhelt was only 13-years-old.

Zernhelt’s family went to the church about the abuse but says the diocese “swept it under the rug.”

Kerestus, who was named in the grand jury report, died in 2014.

Attorney Richard Serbin has been critical of the compensation funds because the process allows the church to avoid courtroom lawsuits which could become a “public airing of its dirty laundry.”

Although Serbin has worked for years on behalf of past church victims, he admits some of his clients have taken the payouts for various reasons.

“Some did it because they want to try to move forward and are looking to heal, and they feel this will be of assistance, and for those clients, I do think it’s good, and I recommend they take it,” he told the AP. Others, he said, “are in desperate financial situations, and they needed the money.”

(source: AP)

News Round-Up: December 26, 2018

Do not forget to watch the Kennedy Center Honors tonight on CBS at 8pm as Cher, Philip Glass, Reba McEntire, and Wayne Shorter receive the 41st Annual Kennedy Center Honors.  Hamilton co-creators Lin-Manuel Miranda, Thomas Kail, Andy Blankenbuehler, and Alex Lacamoire receive a special Honors for groundbreaking work.
The 2018 Kennedy Center Honors air tonight on CBS at 8pm

Some news items you might have missed:

• Do not forget to watch the Kennedy Center Honors tonight on CBS at 8pm as Cher, Philip Glass, Reba McEntire, and Wayne Shorter receive the 41st Annual Kennedy Center Honors.

Hamilton co-creators Lin-Manuel Miranda, Thomas Kail, Andy Blankenbuehler, and Alex Lacamoire receive a special Honors for groundbreaking work.

• An unhinged Catholic priest claimed Satan designed the Pride flag.

• Legal pot was a popular Christmas gift in California this year as cannabis businesses reported up to 5x normal foot traffic in the days leading up to the holiday.

• House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi trolled Donald Trump and his infamous wall telling USA Today he’s now shifted from a concrete structure to “a beaded curtain or something.”

• The transgender teen who was bullied by an assistant principal in a bathroom speaks to the press about the hideous experience.

• A new USA Today/Suffolk University poll asked Democratic and Independent voters who would excited them the most in the 2020 presidential race.

“Someone entirely new” garnered 59%, followed closely by former Vice President Joe Biden (who is the exact opposite of that) at 53%.

Priest Fired For ‘Liking’ A Facebook Photo Of Same-Sex Wedding

Keith Kozak (screen capture)

Keith Kozak, the now-former outreach minister for the Catholic Discese of Cleveland, finds himself unemployed after liking a photo of a same-sex wedding on Facebook.

Showing up for a Human Resources appointment, Kozak though the meeting would be about a promotion. Instead, he got quite the opposite.

“When they called me in, I was thinking it had something to do with that,” Kozak said. “They sat me down and they said we had seen some things on Facebook and Twitter and that would like to talk to you about that.”

The next day he received a termination letter.

The 39-year-old admits he wasn’t out at work. “I didn’t feel comfortable doing it, but I also thought it wasn’t important at the time,” said Kozak.

Saying the Church had been “very discriminatory,” Kozak took his case to the Ohio Civil Rights Commission.

Keith Kozak (screen capture)

Just last month, Cuyahoga County added sexual orientation and gender identity to its protected classes.

But in this case, it appears the Catholic Church may be exempt from following those laws.

From the local ABC news affiliate:

While the organization didn’t specifically comment on his case, a spokesperson told News 5 the Cleveland Diocese might be within its rights, citing “ministerial exception.” It prohibits clergy members from bringing claims under federal discrimination laws because the relationship between an organized church and its ministers is its lifeblood.

“It’s a wake-up call for me, it’s a wake-up call that I didn’t really realize the Catholic Church would act like this,” said Kozak.

For its part, the Catholic Church issued a statement saying it doesn’t make public comments on personnel decisions, but is confident Kozak’s firing was “appropriate.”