TYLER, Texas (LifeSiteNews) — Bishop Joseph Strickland of the Tyler, Texas spoke out Wednesday in response to news that the FBI is plotting surveillance of so-called “radical traditionalist Catholics” in Virginia, saying that “[d]eeply committed Catholics are the last people the authorities should be concerned about.”
On Wednesday, former FBI agent turned whistleblower Kyle Seraphin released an eight-page document indicating the federal law enforcement agency plans to conduct surveillance to intercept “racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists” who have allegedly found common ground with “radical-traditionalist Catholic (RTC) ideology,” LifeSiteNews reported.
FBI whistleblower @KyleSeraphin releases docs showing agency is surveilling ‘Radical’ Traditional Catholics in Virginia https://t.co/CAfk7kuFNN
— Stephen Kokx (@StephenKokx) February 8, 2023
In a February 8 email statement shared with LifeSite, Bishop Strickland said that while it’s true that “committed traditional Catholics will defend the unborn and others who are helpless,” any “attacks of violent aggression are antithetical to what it means to be a radically committed traditional Catholic.”
“Sadly, the experience of Mark Houck provides evidence that this type of surveillance is not beyond the realm of possibility,” he told LifeSite, referring to the pro-life sidewalk counselor and Catholic husband and father of seven who was subjected to a dawn raid by dozens of heavily armed FBI agents last year.
Houck was charged with two FACE Act [Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances] violations over a minor sidewalk altercation with a Planned Parenthood escort and could have faced 11 years in prison if found guilty. The pro-life advocate was acquitted of both charges by a jury on January 30.
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.
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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.”
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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.
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FBI whistleblower releases docs showing agents are surveilling "Radical" Traditional Catholics in Virginia
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In comments to LifeSiteNews, Bishop Strickland added that the FBI plan to surveil traditional Catholics “underscores our [society’s] deep ignorance of what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ or as presently stated ‘radical traditional Catholic.’”
According to the leaked FBI document, federal law enforcement is reportedly concerned that “white nationalist” groups are finding solidarity with “radical” Latin Mass-going Catholics who they say may share certain ‘“anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBT, and white supremacy” perspectives.
The document made a distinction between what it called a “small minority” of “radical-traditionalist Catholics” who might hold such views compared with those “traditionalist Catholics” who the FBI said “prefer the Latin Mass and pre-Vatican II teachings and traditions, but without the more extremist ideological beliefs and violent rhetoric.”
In a piece explicating the contents of the leaked FBI memo, Seraphin pointed out that its writer also frequently references abortion as a central political issue. Seraphin said this federal law enforcement emphasis on “alleged ‘hostility towards the abortion-rights advocates’ has been “used to justify significant enforcement actions tied to the FACE Act,” including the raid, arrest, and indictment of Houck.
In his Wednesday remarks, Bishop Strickland emphasized the need for prayer in the face of persecution.
“Our Lord tells us to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us. Deeply committed Catholics are the last people the authorities should be concerned about,” he said. “Let us pray for all in positions of authority and especially those in law enforcement.”