FBI Interviewed Priest, Choir Director Amid Probe Into Traditional Catholics, House Report Says
Federal Bureau Of Investigation emblem is seen on the headquarters building in Washington D.C., United States, on October 20, 2022. (Photo by Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto)
Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Federal agents interviewed a priest and a choir director as part of an investigation into so-called Radical-Traditional Catholics as potential domestic terrorists, according to a new report from the House Weaponization Committee.

The House Judiciary Committee and the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government launched an investigation into the FBI earlier this year after former agent-turned-whistleblower Kyle Seraphin leaked an internal memo from the bureau’s Richmond Field Office. The memo painted certain “radical-traditionalist Catholics” as violent extremists and proposed opportunities for the FBI to infiltrate Catholic churches as a form of “threat mitigation.”

“The FBI’s Richmond memorandum is a startling reminder that Americans’ civil liberties and core Constitutional rights must be vigorously guarded against government overreach, including in this case from an overzealous law enforcement agency,” the committee wrote in the report.

Whistleblower disclosures in the report said FBI authorities interviewed a priest and choir director of The Society of Saint Pius (SSPX) — an international priestly society promoting traditional practices affiliated with a Catholic church in Richmond, Virginia, between November and December 2022.

The whistleblower disclosures revealed that the FBI interview was used to “inform on the parishioner under investigation” and that the memo would still operate in the agency’s systems, which lawmakers said violates the religious liberties of millions of Catholic Americans.

Although federal agents refused to disclose the contents of the interviews, the committee noted the whistleblower’s allegations showed the FBI directly communicated with Catholic clergy and staff about parishioners practicing their faith around the same time the analysts started drafting the memorandum.

The committee also claimed in the report that the FBI relied on at least one undercover agent to develop its assessment and proposed developing sources among the Catholic clergy and church leadership. The basis of the memo then relied on a single investigation into the Richmond Field Office’s area of responsibility which included a subject who ‘self-described’ as a ‘radical-traditionalist Catholic.'”

Lawmakers found that when FBI employees were preparing, editing, or reviewing the memorandum, they could not define the meaning of an Radical-Traditional Catholic, which the two co-authors sourced the idea from left-wing publications including the Southern Poverty Law Center, Salon, and The Atlantic.

FBI Richmond’s Special Agent in Charge Stanley Meador told the committee that the analysts who co-authored the Richmond memorandum had been employed with the FBI for approximately 20 years.

The FBI “abused its counterterrorism tools to target Catholic Americans as potential domestic terrorists,” according to the committee’s report.

Almost immediately after the document leaked, FBI authorities spiraled into damage control and purged the ant-Catholic memo from its system, saying the bureau would “never conduct investigative activities or open an investigation based solely on First Amendment protected activity.”

“While our standard practice is to not comment on specific intelligence products, this particular field office product — disseminated only within the FBI — regarding racially or ethnically motivated violent extremism does not meet the exacting standards of the FBI,” a spokesperson told The Daily Wire. “Upon learning of the document, FBI Headquarters quickly began taking action to remove the document from FBI systems and conduct a review of the basis for the document.”

But the committee said while the federal agency claims it does not categorize investigations as domestic terrorism based on religious beliefs, including Catholicism, the FBI-wide memorandum “did just that” and found that there “was no legitimate basis for the memorandum to insert federal law enforcement into Catholic houses of worship.”

Got a tip worth investigating?

Your information could be the missing piece to an important story. Submit your tip today and make a difference.

Submit Tip
Download Daily Wire Plus

Don't miss anything

Download our App

Stay up-to-date on the latest
news, podcasts, and more.

Download on the app storeGet it on Google Play
The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  FBI Interviewed Priest, Choir Director Amid Probe Into Traditional Catholics, House Report Says