(CNSNews.com) — Because FBI Director Christopher Wray has essentially ignored several requests by the House Judiciary Committee for documents about the agency’s reported surveillance and infiltration of Catholic parishes to uncover “radicalization” among parishioners, Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) issued a supoena to the FBI on April 10 for specific records and information.
In a letter to Wray, Jordan explained that his committe is “conducting oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FB) handling of domestic violent extremism investigations against Catholic Americans and its effect on protected First Amendment activity.”
Based on “limited information” provided to the committee by the FBI, said Jordan, it is clear now that the agency “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.”
“This shocking information reinforces our need for all responsive documents, and the committee is issuing a subpoena to you to compel your full cooperation,” wrote Jordan.
The committee notes on its website that it officialy requested information from the FBI about a document generated in its Richmond, Va., office in January about potential connections between “violent extremists” and “radical-traitionalist Catholic ideology.”
The FBI ignored a Feb. 16 request from the committee about the memo, and then produced “a substandard and partial response” to a March 23 request, which was riddled with redactions. This prevented the committee “from fully assessing the content and context of the documents and obtaining information requested from the Bureau.”
In the January 2023 document out of Richmond, under “Opportunities,” the FBI wrote, “In addition to [redaction], engage in outreach to the leadership of other [Society of Saint Pius X] chapels in the FBI Richmond [area of responsibility] to sensitize these congregations to the warning signs of radicalization and to enlist their assistance to serve as suspicious activity tripwires.”
The Society of St. Pius X is a Catholic organization that follows the centuries-old teaching of the Church and only offers the traditional Latin Mass.
In addition to the Society, the FBI plan included outreach to so-called “mainline Catholic parishes” and the local “diocesan leadership,” reported the House committee.
“The [January] document itself shows that its contents, including its proposal to develop sources in Catholic churches, were reviewed and approved by two senior intelligence analysts and even the local Chief Division Counsel,” said the committee. “Whistleblowers have advised that the FBI distributed this document to field offices across the country.”
The January memo reveals that FBI claims of “numerous” and “rigorous” policies to protect the First Amendment rights of Chirstian worshipers are dubious, said Jordan in his April 10 letter to Wray.
The so-called radical-traditionalist Catholics cited in the FBI memo came from a list compiled by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a left-wing organization that creates “hate maps” and describes people who oppose “gay marriage” as “hate groups.”
In a Feb. 10 letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray, 20 state attorneys general detailed why the SPLC “has been utterly discredited as a reliable source.”
The FBI has yet to announce whether it will comply with the House committee’s subpoena.
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