General secretary of US bishops' conference unexpectedly steps down

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Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, looks on as Msgr. Jeffrey Burrill, general secretary, reads a message to Pope Francis June 16 at the U.S. bishops' conference headquarters. (CNS/Bob Roller)
Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, looks on as Msgr. Jeffrey Burrill, general secretary, reads a message to Pope Francis June 16 at the U.S. bishops' conference headquarters in Washington during the opening of the bishops' three-day virtual spring meeting. (CNS/Bob Roller)

Msgr. Jeffrey Burrill has resigned as general secretary of the U.S. bishops' conference following allegations of "possible improper behavior." 

In a July 20 memo obtained by NCR, sent by Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles to the bishops of the United States, Gomez said the surprise resignation came after potential media reports of allegations against Burrill. 

"On Monday, we became aware of impending media reports alleging possible improper behavior by Msgr. Burrill," wrote Gomez, president of the U.S. bishops' conference. "What was shared with us did not include allegations of misconduct with minors. However, in order to avoid becoming a distraction to the operations and ongoing work of the Conference, Monsignor has resigned effective immediately."

Burrill did not immediately respond to NCR's request for comment. 

 

In his memo, Gomez stated that current associate general, Fr. Michael Fuller, would serve as interim general secretary until the election of a new general secretary by the bishops.

Fuller, a priest of the Diocese of Rockford, Illinois, is the former executive director of the conference's Secretariat for Doctrine and Canonical Affairs.

Burrill, a priest of the Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin, was first named associate general of the bishops' conference in 2016. He previously served as pastor of St. Bronislava Church in Plover in central Wisconsin and from 2009 to 2013, he was at the Pontifical North American College in Rome where he initially served as  director of apostolic formation and later as the Carl J. Peter chair of homiletics, formation adviser and director of media relations.

In November 2020, he was elected for a five-year term as general secretary, succeeding Msgr. Brian Bransfield.

A version of this story appeared in the Aug 6-19, 2021 print issue under the headline: General secretary of US bishops' conference unexpectedly steps down .

Christopher White

Christopher White is NCR national correspondent. His email address is cwhite@ncronline.org. Follow him on Twitter: @CWWhite212.

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