(Fr. Michael P. Orsi) — We were recently taken aback to hear that FBI security analysts had issued a warning about “traditional” Catholics and the possibility they might be involved with anti-government or white supremacist groups.
A memo issued by the Richmond, Virginia FBI field office identified these “traditional” Catholics as objectors to the Second Vatican Council who tend to prefer the Latin Mass.
This has become a big news story. A lot of people were shocked to hear that Catholics might be investigated as possible subversives, terrorists, even outright enemies of the state.
Consequently, social networks were buzzing. Editorials and op-eds came pouring out. Several Catholic members of Congress expressed outrage.
In the face of such fierce push-back, the memo was quickly rescinded. We are now assured that the FBI would never consider taking action against any group merely on the basis of pious beliefs which, after all, are protected by the First Amendment.
Heaven forbid! This is America. We have freedom of religion here.
Speaking for myself, I’m grateful to the whistleblower who disclosed this revealing little document. It’s hard evidence that Catholics aren’t being paranoid when they sense government hostility toward people of faith.
It also demonstrates the paranoia of the political class when it comes to the values and attitudes of religious believers. Catholics are anti-government? Catholics are white supremacists? Really?
In addition, it’s helped to shed light on the concept of “traditional” Catholics.
Actually, there’s only one kind of Catholic: the “traditional” Catholic.
What does it mean to be a “traditional” Catholic? Does it mean you attend the Latin Mass? Not particularly.
A “traditional” Catholic is someone who believes in what the Church teaches (and has always taught), and who lives in a way that reflects traditional Judeo-Christian morality.
Your liturgical preference and, to some extent, even your understanding of Vatican II are matters of spiritual awareness and individual conscience.
These things are certainly no business of the FBI.
But of course, we all understand what security analysts assume “traditional” Catholics are concerned about — and what makes us objects of FBI interest (if not active surveillance).
It’s a no-brainer that “traditional” Catholics oppose abortion. The signal accomplishment of the Pro-Life Movement — of which “traditional” Catholics are an integral part — is last year’s Supreme Court decision abrogating Roe v. Wade.
Resentment over that, coupled with fear that pro-lifers now feel emboldened to push harder against abortion at the state level, would be reason enough to put “traditional” Catholics in the Left’s crosshairs.
Then too, factor in “traditional” Catholic attitudes toward such dubious social phenomena as so-called “same-sex marriage” and other “progressive” items on the gender agenda.
There’s no doubt that “traditional” Catholics aren’t sympathetic toward efforts to alter human nature. They might try to maintain a sense of love and Christian charity toward the sexually conflicted. But they know well enough there’s no such thing as “same-sex marriage,” regardless of what the law pretends.
Marriage is marriage: a lifelong commitment between one man and one women. And human nature is immutable.
In some ways, it’s too immutable. One of its aspects is our common tendency to be drawn to the sensualism that permeates society today. You can hardly look anywhere without being assaulted by erotic imagery.
Society applauds it all. Take, for instance, the praise heaped upon that “great artist” Rihanna. Her performance during halftime at this year’s Super Bowl would have been dismissed as a cheap “hoochie-coochie show” in earlier, more clear-seeing times.
These days, it’s only one form of spectacle in a vast array of titillating nonsense put before us. Think of it as a “straight” version of the “pride” celebrations and drag queen shows invading our communities. Residents of Naples are currently being subjected to such colorful pageants put on in one of our municipal parks, a place where mothers, fathers, and small children come to share family time.
“Traditional” Catholics object to such immoral exhibitionism. At the very least, we try to avoid it. I guess this makes us enemies of the state.
The incident of the FBI memo is a window into the hearts of the anti-Christian Left. It also demonstrates how the security system created after 9/11 to guard against Islamist terrorism has morphed into a Communist Chinese-style surveillance apparatus that threatens the rights of all Americans.
And it fulfills the Gospel — specifically the fifth chapter of Matthew, where in his beatitudes Jesus says, “Blessed are you who suffer persecution for the sake of righteousness; yours is the kingdom of heaven.”
It pretty much proves that “traditional” Catholics are correct in their understanding of Catholicism. The Church is doing the right thing.
And the FBI knows it.
This essay is based on a homily delivered by Fr. Orsi. A priest of the Diocese of Camden, New Jersey, Rev. Michael P. Orsi currently serves as parochial vicar at St. Agnes Parish in Naples, Florida. He is host of “Action for Life TV,” a weekly cable television series devoted to pro-life issues, and his writings appear in numerous publications and online journals. His TV show episodes can be viewed online here.