According to a leaked FBI report, the FBI’s Richmond, Virginia division is facing criticism for its recent investigation into the alleged threat of “white supremacy” among Catholics who prefer the Latin Mass. The FBI has since rescinded the report, claiming it does not initiate investigations based on activities protected by the First Amendment. The leaked document suggests otherwise, as it is partially based on “liaison reporting.”
In a report published by The Federalist on Thursday, Evita Duffy detailed how the FBI report, dated January 23, 2023, claimed that “Radical-Traditionalist Catholics” (RTCs) are typically characterized by their rejection of the Second Vatican Council and their adherence to anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ and white supremacist ideologies.
Here’s everything you need to know about the FBI labeling traditional Catholics “violent white supremacists,” infiltrating Catholic communities, violating the First Amendment, and specifically targeting Catholic media org @Church_Militant: https://t.co/FlcdVmFQDD
— Evita Duffy (@evitaduffy_1) February 9, 2023
The FBI further stated that RTCs were increasingly fraternizing with “Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremists” (RMVEs). The document suggests that the FBI may mitigate this perceived threat through “tripwire and source development,” which would involve further infiltration into Catholic communities using informants and monitoring social media posts for alleged RTC ideology.
The sources cited in the FBI’s report, which are the basis for its recommendation to increase federal surveillance of conservative Christians, include:
- Two Salon articles.
- An article from the Atlantic.
- A report from the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Those are all far-left media outlets, and three of the articles cited were explicitly described as opinion pieces.
The report offers no concrete evidence of a violent threat posed by traditional Catholics and cites only two pieces of evidence of an “overlap” between RTCs and RMVEs: their opposition to abortion rights and an alleged collaboration between Nick Fuentes’ “American First/groyper Movement” and Church Militant, a Catholic media organization.
Church Militant founder Michael Voris told The Federalist that there has never been any association between Church Militant and America First. The FBI report identifies “Radical-Traditionalist Catholics” as groups in schism from the Catholic Church. Still, Church Militant, the only named organization allegedly linked to racist extremists, defends the validity of the Second Vatican Council and the vernacular Mass.
Voris criticized the FBI’s investigation, stating that the agency should focus on “drug cartels and human trafficking” as its “theological analysis” is “off base.” He pointed out that Catholicism cannot coexist with white supremacy, as Christianity teaches that every person is made in the image of God and therefore has inherent dignity and value.
“The government right now is the one that our founders feared,” Voris said. The FBI’s investigation into the alleged threat posed by traditional Catholics raises concerns about the government’s surveillance of private citizens’ social media and religious beliefs, which many believe goes against the principles of religious freedom and privacy protected by the First Amendment.