LA CROSSE, Wisconsin, July 26, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) general secretary, Monsignor Jeffrey Burrill, resigned last week just hours before a media report was published alleging that he had “engaged in serial sexual misconduct.”
The alleged covert homosexual activity by Burrill is especially troubling because of his powerful position at the USCCB directing diocesan and conference responses to clerical sexual scandals.
Burrill is a priest of the Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin as is Fr. James Altman who has attained hero status among pro-life Catholics after his “You Can't be a Catholic and a Democrat” video landed him on the national stage last fall.
Altman has acquired a huge following around the U.S. as Catholics, frustrated with the hierarchy’s refusal to uphold Church law and deny abortion-activist politicians Holy Communion in accordance with canon 915, have encountered his clear preaching.
As Altman’s fame has grown, his outspokenness has landed him in hot water with his superior, La Crosse Bishop William P. Callahan, who removed Altman as pastor of St. James the Less parish and suspended his priestly faculties earlier this month.
“I am not surprised that the hierarchy boldly continues to try to cancel a voice of Truth,” Altman told LifeSiteNews. “As [the] bishop stated publicly, I speak the undeniable Truth. Unfortunately for the corrupt hierarchy, I will not be silenced by any arbitrary Decree, nor will I be cowed by any action against my priestly faculties. The Truth will not be silenced.”
Will Bishop Callahan now likewise suspend Burrill who repeatedly used the gay hook-up app —which serves to facilitate anonymous homosexual encounters— and has been shown to have repeatedly visited gay bars from 2018 to 2020, even while traveling on assignment for the USCCB? Or is the homosexuality of one of his priests not as troubling for Bishop Callahan as Fr. Altman’s crystal-clear orthodoxy?
When LifeSiteNews asked Bishop Callahan if Fr. Burrill would meet the same fate as Fr. Altman, the La Crosse Diocese Director of Communications and Public Relations, Jack Felsheim, responded with a boilerplate statement:
Msgr. Jeffrey Burrill, a priest of the Diocese of La Crosse, announced his resignation as General Secretary of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops this morning. In 2016, he was appointed Associate General Secretary and in 2020 was named General Secretary for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Msgr. Burrill was ordained a priest for the Diocese of La Crosse in 1998 and in conjunction with the Diocese’s Protect and Heal initiatives has consistently completed safe environment training and background checks. His most recent background check was completed in 2020.
Bishop William Patrick Callahan and representatives of the Diocese of La Crosse are saddened to hear the media reports related to Msgr. Burrill. The Diocese of La Crosse pledges its full cooperation with the Conference of Catholic Bishops to pursue all appropriate steps in investigating and addressing the situation.
Please remember Msgr. Burrill and all affected in your prayers so they may find refuge and strength in God’s unfailing love.
The removal of a priest’s faculties means the priest may not offer public Mass in his home diocese or another diocese. A priest with suspended faculties is also not permitted to hear Confessions or baptize people unless they are in danger of death.
On July 20, Bishop Callahan made a public statement saying that the investigative report into Burrill’s Grindr use “established no facts” about the monsignor’s behavior. It also referred to him familiarly as “Jeff.”
“The media reports establish no facts in truth about Jeff’s behavior either innocent or not,” Callahan wrote.
“Nevertheless, we have learned throughout the years of dealing with cases of moral crisis, to pursue and investigate all misconduct allegations and promote the causes of justice and morality for all,” he continued.
“I am prayerful and eager to hear the truth in all of this, as I am sure we all are. In the meantime, brothers, let us pray for and support one another. In this case, please pray for Msgr. Burrill.”
Priest-columnist Father Raymond De Souza said that the Bishop of La Cross “finds himself in an extremely delicate position” given his recent treatment of Altman and Altman’s accusation that the USCCB are a “brood of vipers.”
“Although Msgr. Burrill’s situation is unrelated to Father Altman’s actions, that the general secretary of the USCCB may be guilty of “a pattern of sexual misconduct” will likely confirm in the minds of some that Father Altman is on to something in his scathing attacks on the credibility of the American bishops,” De Souza wrote in a July 23 article for the Catholic Register.
“More to the point, if Bishop Callahan does not subject Msgr. Burrill, as different as their canonical cases may be, to the same severe restrictions he placed upon Father Altman, it may confirm the suspicions of those who think that justice in the Church is applied in an uneven and unfair fashion,” he added.
“Bishop Callahan is now in a position that—pending his own investigation of The Pillar’s reporting—if he does not treat Msgr. Burrill more severely than Father Altman, his own credibility may be severely damaged.”
Contact information for respectful communication:
Catholic Diocese of LaCrosse
Bishop William Callahan
3710 East Avenue South
P.O. Box 4004
La Crosse, WI 54602-4004
+1 (608) 788-7700
Very Rev. William Dhein, Msgr. Michael J. Gorman, and Msgr. Joseph Diermeier, Vicars General
+1 (608) 791-2655
Rev. Woodrow Pace, Vicar for Clergy
+1 (608) 791-2652