RICHMOND, Virginia (LifeSiteNews) –– The FBI planned to recruit leaders in both a Virginia diocese and the Society of St. Pius X to spy on faithful Catholics.
The FBI provided information to U.S. Congressman Jim Jordan, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, admitting that it had sought information “derived from at least one undercover employee” seeking to infiltrate religious organizations as “new avenues for tripwire and source development.” Jordan has previously received 18 pages of heavily-redacted documents regarding its investigation of Catholics and the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia. Due to the limited response thus far by the FBI to Congressman Jordan’s initial request, the House Judiciary Committee initiated yet another subpoena for further information from the FBI.
According to the FBI response, per Jordan’s April 10 letter, the Bureau’s plan included contacting “mainline Catholic parishes” and the local “diocesan leadership,” as well as leadership within the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) in Richmond to “develop news sources” to report on what the FBI alleges to be “suspicious activity.” Priests associated with the SSPX provide Catholic laity access to the sacraments using the pre-1970 liturgical rituals. Catholics who attend chapels of the SSPX are not members of the organization.
We now know the FBI, relying on information derived from at least one undercover employee, sought to use local religious organizations as “new avenues for tripwire and source development.”
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) April 10, 2023
Jordan outlined in his most recent letter that “[t]his information is outrageous and only reinforced the Committee’s need for all FBI material responsive to our request.” He goes on to emphasize that the FBI admits that the organization has deliberately sought to “enlist Catholic houses of worship as potential sources to monitor and report on their parishioners,” thereby violating the First Amendment rights of Catholics and others within their houses of worship.
“Based on the limited information produced by the FBI to the Committee, we now know that the FBI relied on at least one undercover agent to produce its analysis, and that the FBI proposed that its agents engage in outreach to Catholic parishes to develop sources among the clergy and church leadership to inform on Americans practicing their faith,” Jordan wrote to FBI Director Christopher Wray on Monday.
Jordan also reiterated that despite the FBI’s initial response to the revelation, “[w]e know that that the FBI distributed this document to field offices across the country” and that it was “unclear” how many FBI employees have accessed Catholic houses of worship across the country based upon the original Richmond document.
When reached for comment, the Diocese of Richmond directed LifeSiteNews to its previous statement addressing the original FBI memo that was leaked earlier this year, but did not yet comment on the most recent development.
LifeSiteNews has also reached out to the Society of St. Pius X but has yet to receive a reply.
UPDATE: This article was updated on April 11 at 3:17 p.m. EST to include a reply from the Diocese of Richmond that was sent after initial publication.