The group buys dating app data from priests — and gives it to bishops

A conservative group in the US obtained data from online dating profiles of pastors and then passed it on to bishops and senior clergy. The Washington Post reported Thursday that the Catholic secular organization and Clergy for Renewal has spent millions of dollars buying tracking data from mobile apps that can be used to identify priests.

The goal was to “encourage the Church to accomplish its mission” by providing bishops with “evidence-based sources” with which they could uncover weaknesses in priestly training. Group president Jade Henricks wrote in a First Things post that he’s proud to be part of a group that aims to “love the church and help it be holy by any means available to it, including data.” In addition to analyzing dating apps, other research has also been done.

Accordingly, the group received data for the period from 2018 to 2021. According to the “Washington Post”, dating apps for homosexuals were mainly registered. Henriques asserted that it was not about priests or heterosexual or homosexual seminarians, but “behaviour that harms everyone involved on some level and in any way and is a testimony against the ministry of the Church”. The group received data from data brokers. For example, it compared location data from dating apps with the locations of homes, jobs, and seminars to determine the location of clergy. Early in 2021, the Secretary General of the US Conference of Bishops was forced to resign, citing an upcoming publication about “possibly inappropriate misconduct” as the reason. Shortly thereafter, the online Catholic magazine ‘The Pillar’ reported on the priest’s alleged use of the dating app ‘Grindr’ based on location data. (mpl)


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