Today I asked FBI Director Christopher Wray to make public those documents that are related to the FBI’s outreach program to “mainline Catholic parishes” and “local diocesan leadership.” They were targeted because of alleged “radicalization” within the Catholic Church. (A copy of my letter was sent to Rep. Jim Jordan, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.)
“This is taking the FBI into new, and disturbing territory,” I said.
We know from previous disclosures that the FBI was probing “Radical-Traditionalist Catholics” (RTCs). Such Catholics may not be the typical “in-the-pew” Catholics, but to this day we have not seen any evidence that they are a threat to anyone. Now the FBI has upped the ante, going after “mainline” Catholics and dioceses.
On February 9, I made public my concerns about the FBI’s interest in RTCs. “What’s next?” Will it be a war on “Catholics who are orthodox?” It appears my worst fears have been realized.
The First Amendment provides for a healthy measure of autonomy between church and state, so when the state encroaches on religious bodies, it had better have unambiguous and very serious reasons for doing so. “I would like to know what they are in this instance,” I asked the FBI Director.
We have seen too many instances lately where the government is trespassing on the affairs of religion; it is not the other way around. Church and state separation cuts both ways. But under the Biden administration, this fundamental constitutional principle is being summarily ignored. This includes the Department of Justice and the FBI.
Catholics have a right to know what the FBI is up to. The evidence is clear: Violence against Catholic churches and crisis pregnancy centers are largely going unattended to, yet probes of innocent Catholics are being conducted. This raises important questions that go to the heart of the FBI’s legitimacy.
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