RICHMOND, Virginia (LifeSiteNews) — The Bishop of Richmond has called on all legislators in Virginia to condemn the FBI’s targeting of traditional Catholics.
“I call on all national representatives from the Commonwealth of Virginia in the House and Senate to exercise their role of oversight, to publicly condemn this threat to religious liberty, and to ensure that such offenses against the constitutionally protected free exercise of religion do not occur again,” Bishop Barry Knestout wrote in a statement released on February 13.
READ: FBI whistleblower releases docs showing agency is surveilling ‘Radical’ Latin Mass Catholics
“I was alarmed to read the reports written late last week about the contents of the internal memo created by the Richmond Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” the statement reads. “I was also surprised to learn of the mention of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP), a religious order, which celebrates the traditional form of the Catholic Mass. FSSP has served with devotion for many years the parishes within our Catholic community and to the faithful of our diocese who appreciate this form of the Catholic Mass in our diocese.”
“The leaked document should be troubling and offensive to all communities of faith, as well as all Americans,” Knestout blasted. “I am grateful for the Virginia Attorney General and 19 attorneys general who have called upon the government to publicly release all materials related to the production of this memo.”
Concluding, Knestout noted that if “evidence of extremism exists, it should be rooted out, but not at the expense of religious freedom. A preference for traditional forms of worship and holding closely to the Church’s teachings on marriage, family, human sexuality, and the dignity of the human person does not equate with extremism.”
The Virginia bishop reacted to a bombshell FBI memo that was released by whistleblower Kyle Seraphin last week, which sparked outrage among Catholics and other groups concerned about religious freedom. The report, written by an FBI analyst in Richmond, Virginia, published for internal agency use only on January 23, is titled, “Interest of Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremists in Radical-Traditionalist Catholic Ideology Almost Certainly Presents New Mitigation Opportunities.”
The FBI is planning to intensify its “assessment” and “mitigation” of “Radical Traditionalist Catholics” over the next 12 to 24 months according to an explosive document from a former agent turned whistleblower.
SIGN & SHARE: Tell the FBI to stop its surviellance of faithful Catholics and focus on the real criminals.
The bombshell 8-page memo was released by former FBI agent Kyle Serpahin on his website UncoveredDC Wednesday. The report, written by an FBI analyst in Richmond, Virginia, was published for internal agency use only on January 23, is titled, “Interest of Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremists in Radical-Traditionalist Catholic Ideology Almost Certainly Presents New Mitigation Opportunities.”
Seraphin describes the briefing as an “intelligence product” that, though not being exhaustive, can be used as an initial reference point for the agency to “prop up” future investigations on the subject. He says he obtained the document from an anonymous Baptist employee for the agency.
“This is the first FBI Richmond domain product to focus on the interest of racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists in the Radical Traditional Catholic movement,” the document states. “A search of FBI databases indicates this is also the first FBI finished intelligence product to specifically address this environmental variable.”
SIGN: Politically-motivated witch-hunts of faithful Catholics cannot be allowed in a civilized society
Among the most controversial aspects of the memo is that it directly cites a defamatory study conducted by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) on the subject “Radical Traditional Catholicism.” The SPLC has long been rejected as a legitimate resource for the FBI, Seraphin says, but in this instance, it is being relied on as a primary source to justify its efforts. The memo also references three anti-Catholic smear articles (here, here, and here) published by leftwing websites Salon and The Atlantic to defend its monitoring.
The report alleges that its real motivation is a concern that “Radical Traditionalist Catholic Ideology” possesses an “anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBT, and white supremacy” outlook, and that this presents a threat to the US’s domestic well-being. The report further claims that adherents to RTC ideology “frequently share language and symbolism, such as crusader references or anti-Semitic discourses” online that pro-life white nationalists also support.
SIGN: The FBI's smear campaign against Catholics cannot be allowed to stand
Please send this petition to as many concerned Americans as possible - we cannot allow the continued politicization of the FBI.
FBI whistleblower releases docs showing agents are surveilling "Radical" Traditional Catholics in Virginia
READ: USCCB silent on leaked FBI memo targeting ‘radical’ Latin Mass Catholics
Among the most controversial aspects of the memo is that it directly cites a defamatory study conducted by the leftist Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) on the subject of “Radical Traditional Catholicism.” The SPLC has long been rejected as a legitimate resource for the FBI, former agent Seraphin said, but in this instance, it is being relied on as a primary source to justify its efforts. The memo also references three anti-Catholic smear articles (here, here, and here) published by leftwing websites Salon and The Atlantic to defend its monitoring.
The memo identifies nine Traditional Catholic organizations allegedly guilty of promoting Radical Traditionalist Catholic (RTC) ideology: Catholic Family News, The Remnant, The Fatima Center, Tradition in Action, Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Culture Wars, In the Spirit of Chartres, Christ or Chaos, and Catholic Apologetics International. These groups were all listed in the SPLC report. The FBI document also specifically mentioned the FSSP and the Priestly Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), the SSPX “Resistance,” as well as sedevacantist groups.
After the memo had caused an immense backlash, the FBI quickly retracted the document that targets traditional Catholics. In its statement, the FBI claimed that “upon learning of the document, FBI Headquarters quickly began taking action to remove the document from FBI systems and conduct a review of the basis for the document.”
READ: FBI retracts memo on ‘Radical’ Latin Mass Catholics that cited left-wing SPLC report
On February 10, Virginia’s Attorney General and Attorney Generals from 19 other states signed a document that condemned the FBI document and called upon the federal government to release all materials related to the controversial memo.
“The FBI must immediately and unequivocally order agency personnel not to target Americans based on their religious beliefs and practices,” the document by the Attorney Generals reads. “We also demand that the FBI produce publicly all materials relating to the memorandum and its production.”
Bishop Strickland reacts to FBI whistleblower’s bombshell report on surveillance of traditional Catholics
FBI whistleblower: Memo on Latin Mass Catholics is ‘open door’ to declare all Christians ‘criminals’
Catholic media outlet named in FBI report slams ‘dystopian’ Latin Mass surveillance
The Remnant’s Michael Matt slams FBI ‘witch hunt’ of Latin Mass Catholics