Report: FBI Interviewed Priest, Choir Director as Part of Investigation Targeting Catholics

Christopher Wray Reaching
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The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) allegedly interviewed a priest and a church choir director as part of its investigation into “radical traditionalist” Catholics, a House Weaponization Committee report obtained by Fox News Digital details.

In February, a now-retracted leaked memo from the FBI Richmond Field Office titled “Interest of Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremists in Radical-Traditionalist Catholic Ideology Almost Certainly Presents New Mitigation Opportunities,” showed the bureau was targeting Catholics, and had used information from the far-left Southern Poverty Law Center to guide the crafting of the memo. As Breitbart News reported, the memo showed the Richmond office had found that violent extremists’ “interest” in “radical-traditionalist Catholic” ideology was growing and that it therefore presented an opportunity for the FBI to engage with certain churches in an attempt to goad the churches’ leadership into serving as FBI “tripwires,” who would operate like unofficial informants to the FBI.

House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) revealed in August that multiple FBI field offices were allegedly involved in crafting the memo, which detailed plans to target “radical traditionalist” Catholics, despite FBI Director Christoper Wray’s testimony that it was a “product from a single field office.”

The House Judiciary Committee and the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government have been investigating the FBI’s investigation of certain Catholics as potential domestic terrorists since the leak. The committee’s new report concludes that there was “no legitimate basis for the memorandum to insert federal law enforcement into Catholic houses of worship,” according to Fox News Digital. 

The report further accuses the FBI of “abus[ing] its counterterrorism tools to target Catholic Americans as potential domestic terrorists.”

“The Committee and Select Subcommittee discovered that the FBI relied on at least one undercover agent to develop its assessment and the FBI even proposed developing sources among the Catholic clergy and church leadership,” the report states. “Not only did the FBI propose to develop sources, but it already interviewed a priest and choir director affiliated with a Catholic church in Richmond, Virginia for the memorandum.”

The committee said, citing whistleblower disclosures, that the FBI interviewed the priest and choir director affiliated with a Catholic church in Richmond, Virginia, to “inform on the parishioner under investigation.” The committee added that if the whistleblower had not come forward, the memo targeting Catholics would likely “still be operative in FBI systems, violating the religious liberties of millions of Catholic Americans,” according to the report. 

The committee also allegedly found that the Richmond memo was based on a single investigation of a subject “self-described” as a “radical-traditionalist Catholic.” However, the committee reportedly found that the FBI did not actually have a working definition of a “radical-traditionalist Catholic” when crafting the memo.

“Even so, this single investigation became the basis for an FBI-wide memorandum warning about the dangers of ‘radical’ Catholics,” according to the report. 

The committee’s report points to documents obtained by the committee’s subpoena which allegedly show the agency “singled out Americans who are pro-life, pro-family, and support the biological basis for sex and gender distinction as potential domestic terrorists.”

A woman holds up signs at a protest in Santee, a suburban city in San Diego County, California, January 21, 2023. (SANDY HUFFAKER/AFP via Getty Images)

“While the FBI claims it ‘does not categorize investigations as domestic terrorism based on the religious beliefs—to include Catholicism—of the subject involved,’ an FBI-wide memorandum originating from the FBI’s Richmond Field Office did just that,” the committee said, according to the report. “Under the guise of tackling the threat of domestic terrorism, the memorandum painted certain ‘radical-traditionalist Catholics’ (RTCs) as violent extremists and proposed opportunities for the FBI to infiltrate Catholic churches as a form of ‘threat mitigation.’”

In a comment to the outlet, the FBI again said the memo “did not meet the exacting standards of the FBI and was quickly removed from FBI systems.”

“An internal review conducted by the FBI found no malicious intent to target Catholics or members of any other religious faith, and did not identify any investigative steps taken as a result of the product,” the FBI added. 

“The FBI is committed to upholding the constitutional rights of all Americans,” the agency said, “and we do not conduct investigations based solely on First Amendment protected activity, including religious practices. The FBI investigates violence, threats of violence, and violations of federal law,” the agency continued. “We have provided hundreds of pages of documents and briefings to the Committee to address our findings and the numerous actions we are taking to address identified shortcomings.”


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