Catholic leaders criticized the FBI following revelations that federal agents interviewed a priest and choir director as part of an investigation into “radical-traditional Catholics” as potential domestic terrorists.
The House Judiciary Committee and a subcommittee launched an investigation after a whistleblower leaked an internal memo from the FBI’s Richmond Field Office, suggesting the infiltration of Catholic churches.
FBI Director Christopher Wray defended the interviews, stating they were part of an investigation into an individual allegedly threatening violence. (Trending: Democrat Accused Of Blocking Release of Jeffrey Epstein Flight Logs)
“The latest revelations only raise more questions about the illegitimate targeting of Catholics by the FBI,” revealed CatholicVote President Brian Burch.
“We now know that the FBI effort involved at least four field offices, authorized the use of undercover agents to infiltrate Catholic parishes, and used a Catholic priest and a choir director to inform on one of their parishioners,” he continued.
“Despite every effort to downplay the significance of this abuse of power, the FBI still owes Catholics and all concerned Americans answers as to who was behind the effort to spy on Catholics, how far and wide this effort went inside the FBI, whether it is ongoing, and whether anyone has been held accountable,” wrote Burch.
The committees have criticized the FBI’s reported labeling of pro-life and pro-family Americans as potential domestic extremists.
The FBI faced backlash for its actions, leading to a purge of the controversial memo from its system.
Ashley McGuire, a senior fellow at the Catholic Association warned that, “While Catholic Churches as well as pro-life pregnancy care centers are under constant attack from actual violent extremists, the FBI had the audacity to investigate and spy on those targeted by these crimes.”
“The notion that traditional Catholics pose some kind of national threat is so absurd it exceeds even Hollywood’s imagination,” continued the conservative radio host.
“And yet the FBI, an agency designed to protect Americans and their rights, was spying on Catholics everywhere from their choir lofts to their rectories,” she added.
“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,” said an FBI spokesperson.
“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.”
The FBI claimed an investigation discovered, “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.”