Editor’s note: The author of this article has written for Catholic Family News in years past.
(LifeSiteNews) — Catholic Family News editor-in-chief Brian McCall has issued a stinging rebuke of the FBI’s surveillance of Traditional Catholics who attend the Latin Mass.
“The release by a courageous whistleblower of this internal FBI memorandum confirms the dystopian state of the country in which we sadly live,” McCall told LifeSiteNews via email Wednesday. “This memo … proves beyond any doubt the evil people who control the levers of power in the U.S. government are using that power to persecute any who dissent from their godless ideology.”
Catholic Family News is a Traditional Catholic media outlet founded by John Vennari (1958-2017) in the 1990s. For decades, it has promoted the full message of Our Lady of Fatima and exposed the theological errors put forth by post-Vatican II churchmen. The late Canadian priest Fr. Nicholas Gruner, founder of The Fatima Center, collaborated with Vennari for many years.
FBI TARGETS TRADS: CFN’s @ProfessorMcCall comments on claims that “white supremacy” is prevalent among TLM attendees: “[Traditional Catholics] seek to bring the love of Christ and His Church to all races and ethnicities.”
See @LifeSite‘s report for more: https://t.co/gRFYRpdjIZ
— Catholic Family News (@cathfamilynews) February 9, 2023
Catholic Family News was identified, by name, in an FBI document leaked to the public this week by Kyle Seraphin, a former agent turned whistleblower. The memo explains that the FBI’s Richmond, Virginia office is planning to intensify its surveillance of Traditional Catholic communities due to a purported heightened interest in the faith taken by what the document calls anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, and anti-LGBT “racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists.”
The memo also mentions pro-Latin Mass communities like the Fraternal Society of St. Peter (FSSP), the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), the SSPX “Resistance,” and the Society of St. Pius V. The report points out that the FSSP and the SSPX have “houses of worship” in the Richmond area. As of the publication of this story, neither group has issued a public statement on the FBI’s efforts.
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.”
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.
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FBI whistleblower releases docs showing agents are surveilling "Radical" Traditional Catholics in Virginia
The document scandalously cites a defamatory report conducted by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) on “Radical Traditional Catholicism” as proof its investigation is needed. It also references three anti-Catholic essays, one of which is on the rosary (read here, here, and here), published by leftwing sites Salon and The Atlantic to justify its actions.
“The memo’s prominent reliance on the utterly discredited and bigoted Southern Poverty Law Center, which is not a law center at all but merely a radical political leftist front, further discredits this memo and its author,” McCall noted. “Traditional Catholicism has never had anything to do with racial bigotry or hatred … 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 is a distinguished University of Oklahoma law professor who frequently gives public speeches on Catholic social teaching. The author of multiple books, he compiled in 2021 a series of essays written by former Apostolic Nuncio to the United States Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò. He has been joined in his criticism of the FBI in recent days by Latin Mass Catholics on Twitter, a number of whom have begun making memes and jokes about federal agents trying to fit in at Latin Mass chapels. Some Catholics online are also speculating that the FBI’s efforts may be connected to the reported crackdown on the Latin Mass by Pope Francis this coming spring. Others are calling on Congress to investigate the agency for overstepping its bounds.
Thus far, Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas is the only U.S. bishop who has denounced the FBI’s plans. In comments provided to LifeSite earlier this week, Strickland remarked that the FBI’s efforts 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.’”
“Sadly, the experience of Mark Houck provides evidence that this type of surveillance is not beyond the realm of possibility,” he added.
In his email to LifeSite, McCall concluded that “the Department of Justice, in its continued persecution of pro-life advocates, and now, simple Traditional Catholics, should be renamed from its Orwellian title to the more accurate Department of Injustice.”
Read his full statement below:
The release by a courageous whistleblower of this internal FBI memorandum confirms the dystopian state of the country in which we sadly live.
This memo, combined with the targeting and persecution of those working to protect the lives of unborn children, proves beyond any doubt the evil people who control the levers of power in the US government are using that power to persecute any who dissent from their godless ideology.
The FBI is spying on and infiltrating traditional Roman Catholic groups and even parishes for simply exercising their First Amendment Rights. The absurdity of the outrageous allegations of the FBI memo are blatant.
Although the author acknowledges that white supremacists are and have always been violently anti-Catholic (the KKK burn crosses specifically to show their hostility to Catholics), the author believes these white supremacist groups are now deeply attracted to strongly Catholic parishes and groups that they despise.
Traditional Catholicism has never had anything to do with racial bigotry or hatred. In fact, the White Supremacist groups that have been active throughout US history (such as the Know Nothing Party) have targeted Catholics because Catholics have always sought the salvation and improvement in this world of the lot of those races and ethnicities despised by 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.).
Traditional Catholics seek the conversion of everyone regardless of race, color, ethnicity, or any other attribute, to the Kingship of Christ. They seek to bring the love of Christ and His Church to all races and ethnicities.
The memo’s prominent reliance on the utterly discredited and bigoted Southern Poverty Law Center, which is not a law center at all but merely a radical political leftist front, further discredits this memo and its author.
The Department of Justice, in its continued persecution of pro-life advocates, and now, simple Traditional Catholics, should be renamed from its Orwellian title to the more accurate Department of Injustice.