A Denver-based organization is pouring big money into a controversial mission: outing gay priests. Catholic Laity and Clergy for Renewal claim they supply resources to church leaders to better care for their flock. Still, many suspect there may be an ulterior motive behind the expenditure of millions—gaining leverage over anyone perceived as not living up to Church teachings on homosexuality. With such power, this group could flip lives upside down with one revelation, leading some people to question if this is really "caring" or simply blackmailing those who stray from doctrine.
Catholic Laity and Clergy for Renewal are determined to streamline the local Church, even if it means sending some priests through a trial in the heavenly court. The effort has sparked comparisons to an infamous witch hunt, but this organization insists its mission is simply one that seeks justice and reform.
Are You Swiping Right Now, Father?
The group’s aim is “to love the Church and to help the Church to be holy, with every tool she could be given,” according to President Jayd Henricks.
In a shocking move, Catholic Laity and Clergy for Renewal revealed they had spent roughly $4 million to obtain data from gay dating apps over the past few years. This covered international heavy-hitter Grindr and other less popular alternatives like Scruff, Jack'd, and Growlr.
By cross-checking app logins with location markers of local seminaries, it appears their mission was to identify priests or clergy members who used these platforms in active pursuit of romantic relationships – or even just window shopping!
Is This Legal?
Is it legal to buy and sell app user data? Unfortunately, privacy laws offer little protection in this arena. The unsettling truth is that anyone - even individuals with enough cash- can acquire personal information from the world of online marketing without breaking a single law. With no accountability for such purchases, we may be sacrificing our security to those paying top dollar on these digital exchanges and leaving ourselves vulnerable in an already uncertain age.
Gay Priests Must Be Aware of This
The Catholic Laity and Clergy for Renewal recently sparked an international controversy when they exposed Monsignor Jeffrey Burrill, a high-ranking priest who had been using gay dating apps. Debate swirled as to whether this proved his incompatibility with the Church's teachings or violated his right to privacy.
Unfortunately, no legal safeguards have yet been put in place restricting access of app data - leaving it up to companies like Grindr and other social media platforms themselves to police their users' information. While some argue that outing these men is highly hazardous to them, others maintain that holding priests accountable through exposure is necessary for them all to remain committed to their religious vows, such as celibacy, amongst many more.
“It’s not about straight or gay priests and seminarians,” says Henricks. “It’s about behavior that harms everyone involved, at some level and in some way, and is a witness against the ministry of the Church.”