Colorado Catholic group spent millions to identify priests using gay dating apps | Catholicism
A conservative Catholic group based in Colorado spent millions to obtain data that identified priests using gay contact and dating apps and later shared the data with bishops across the country.
The project was implemented by the conservative non-profit Catholic Laymen and Priests for Renewal, the Washington Post first reported.
According to tax records obtained by the Post, the project’s mission is to “empower the church to carry out its mission” and provide bishops with “evidence-based resources” to further identify weaknesses in current training.
The group reportedly spent at least $4 million on the project and shared the information with dozens of bishops across the country.
It is unclear how the data will affect priests. A person who spoke to the Post on condition of anonymity said Catholic members would not be promoted or take early retirement because of information discovered through Project Renewal.
The participants of the Renewal project reportedly took part in the trip of a prominent Catholic priest.
Monsignor Jeffrey Burrill resigned as general secretary of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in July 2021 after a Catholic news site, Pillar, tracked his use of gay dating apps and paid visits based on commercially available data. to a warm bar and bath.
Burrill’s resignation and the latest discovery of mobile app tracking are raising alarm among LGBTQ+ advocates and privacy experts, who are calling it an invasion of privacy that targets vulnerable people.
“The power of this story is that you don’t often see where these practices relate to a particular person or group of people. You can clearly see the link here,” Justin Sherman, a senior fellow at Duke University’s school of public policy and an expert on privacy issues, told the Post.
Sherman added that privacy laws in the country are limited, noting, “You can count them on one or two hands.”
A spokeswoman for Catholic Laity and Renewal Clergy told the Post that the nonprofit’s president, Jayd Henricks, would be interviewed about the project. But multiple requests for an interview or comment were not returned.
In a first-person op-ed published Wednesday on the First Things blog, Henricks wrote that he was “proud to be a part of [the] group”.
“After all, data is used by every major corporation, so why not the church?” written by Henricks.
Henricks also added that the group collected other research in addition to application data.
Some members of the Catholic Church criticized the surveillance for targeting priests because of their sexual orientation.
“It is a crime to disclose information that damages a person’s reputation for no objective reason, even if it is true,” said a USCCB member who knows Burrill, describing the “intense emotional distress” that Grindr has caused online. endured after the termination of its activities.