United States: FBI Accused of Spying on Traditional Catholics

Source: FSSPX News

The attorneys general of 20 U.S. states have signed a letter asking the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to clarify the origins and implementation of its recently leaked “anti-Catholic” memo, and whether the FBI has begun spying on traditional Catholics.

In a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray and U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, Virginia Attorney General (AG) Jason Miyares criticized a memo targeting “Radical Traditionalist Catholics,” and demanded that the FBI “produce publicly all materials relating to the memorandum.” 19 other states attorneys general have also signed the letter.

The Virginia FBI memo states that “increasingly observed interest of Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremists (RMVE) in Radical Traditionalist Catholic (RTC) ideology almost certainly presents new opportunities for threat mitigation through the exploration of new avenues for tripwire and source development.”

“The document claims that RMVEs have ‘sought out’ traditional Catholic worship and use the language of RTC ideology on social media. Besides attending the Traditional Latin Mass, RTCs are considered to typically ‘reject’ Vatican II as a ‘valid council.’”

Regarding the government’s labeling of certain Catholics as ‘violent extremists’ because of their beliefs, it plans to recruit Catholics to spy on their fellow parishioners, Miyares remarked, “Frankly, it’s what I would expect from Communist Cuba.” The AG’s letter asks that the FBI first “immediately and unequivocally order agency personnel not to target Americans based on their religious beliefs and practices.”

The 20 attorneys general are also asking for “a full explanation of the document’s origins, and documents related to its implementation,” as well as “information on how Virginia’s Catholics have already been affected by the document, including on ‘whether the FBI has begun infiltrating houses of worship in conflict with the FBI’s internal guidelines.’”

Although the FBI has retracted the document following intense backlash over its contents, Miyares and the other attorneys general emphasized that they remain unpersuaded by the FBI's “damage-control efforts.” The Virginia Attorney General added:

“The FBI's scrubbing of the document… and the purported ‘review’ of the process that created it in no way reassures us that this memo does not reflect a broader program of secret surveillance of American Catholics or other religious adherents, and infiltration of their houses of worship. It assures us only that the FBI is embarrassed at the public revelation of the memorandum’s contents.”

Mr. Miyares noted that he and his colleagues found the memo particularly alarming for several other reasons, not least because they observed that it is part of a “dangerous trend by the FBI and the Department of Justice to label those who hold views contrary to the Administration as violent extremists or terrorists.”

The AG also noted that “spying on Catholics” constitutes “an absurd use of federal law enforcement and counterintelligence resources,” while patently dangerous illegal activities remain unaddressed.

Mr. Miyares further pointed out that “the FBI had already ‘disavowed’ the practice of spying on Americans in places of worship, as it had done in mosques after the September 11 terrorist attacks. In fact, the FBI had ‘revised its internal guidelines in 2010 and 2013 to prevent its operatives from callously disregarding the religious liberty of American citizens.’”

“It would be very concerning indeed if the FBI had revived this practice against American Catholics or, worse, if it had never shut down the program in the first place,” Miyares wrote. The FBI whistleblower who published the anti-Catholic memo, Kyle Seraphin, recently warned that it serves as an ‘open door’ to target all Christians in the U.S. as criminals.’”

“I think if we're being realistic about it, they have found a gateway in what they think is fringe Catholicism in order to move into Christians in general and declare them to be the actual criminals in this country, or potential terrorists,” he told Tucker Carlson on Thursday.

Notably, the document's mention of “anti-LGBTQ” RTC beliefs appears to vilify not only the vast majority of traditional Catholics, but also most conservative Christians, since the biblical belief that marriage exists only between a man and a woman is interpreted by pro-LGBT activists to be “anti-LGBTQ.”

“In fact, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), cited by the memo in question, even identifies legislation that prevents males from participating in women’s sports as ‘anti-LGBTQ.’ On its website, the SPLC dismisses ‘religious liberty’ as a ‘guise’ for what it claims are anti-LGBTQ beliefs.”

Catholic Family News editor-in-chief Brian McCall told LifeSiteNews that the release of the memo “confirms the dystopian state of the country in which we sadly live.”

“McCall also pointed out that Traditional Catholicism ‘has never had anything to do with racial bigotry or hatred,’ and that in fact white supremacist groups have historically targeted Catholics ‘because Catholics have always sought the salvation and improvement in this world of the lot of those races and ethnicities despised by the White Protestant elitists.’”

“Ironically every traditional Latin Mass parish I have ever attended is more ethnically diverse than liberal Catholic parishes that segregate attendees by linguistic, and hence ethnic, lines (i.e., Spanish Masses, Vietnamese Masses, etc.),” McCall continued.

Care must be taken with the meaning of the term “Traditionalist Catholics” used by the FBI. It seems to be equivalent to “attending the traditional Latin Mass.”