According to reports from The Pillar, a Roman Catholic news organization that specializes in investigative journalism, through a 26-week period in 2018 their team pulled the signal data from mobile phones in cloistered parts of the Vatican. This showed dozens of devices were “emitted serially occurring hookup or dating app data signals from secured areas and buildings of the Vatican ordinarily inaccessible to tourists and pilgrims” with an emphasis on the gay hookup app Grindr.
According to the data set, which the Pillar confirms is “commercially available and contains location and usage information which users consent to be collected and commercialized as a condition of using the app” their analysis reveals the following:
“Extensive location-based hookup or dating app usage is evident within the walls of Vatican City, in restricted areas of St. Peter’s Basilica, inside Vatican City government and Holy See’s administration buildings including those used by the Vatican’s diplomatic staff, in residential buildings, and in the Vatican Gardens, both during daytime hours and overnight. “
With the concern from the Pillar that this information could be used to blackmail certain individuals, including high-ranking officials within the church, they had a meeting with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State as well as Dr. Paolo Ruffini, prefect of the Vatican’s dicastery for communications, to present its findings They report that “The meeting’s discussion was agreed by all parties to be mutually confidential, but the fact of the meeting was not itself off-the-record.”
However, when the news broke last week that the high ranking general secretary of the U.S. bishops’ conference, Monsignor Jeffrey Burrill used Grindr all the time, wherever he went, the Vatican clammed up and refused to grant the Pillar any more promised meetings or conversations to review their findings, choosing to circle the wagon rather than to allow an outside news agency to share further findings and risk being exposed to more scandal.
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