House Committee Releases Report on FBI’s Targeting of Catholics

By Joshua Mercer

The House Judiciary Committee and its Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government released a report Monday detailing updated findings on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) targeting of Catholics.

The FBI interviewed a priest and a parish choir director before compiling its anti-Catholic “Richmond memo” early this year, according to the interim staff report. The 30-page document is titled “The FBI’s Breach of Religious Freedom: The Weaponization of Law Enforcement Against Catholic Americans.”

“The Committee and Select Subcommittee’s oversight shows that the FBI abused its counterterrorism tools to target Catholic Americans as potential domestic terrorists,” the report began:

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.

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.

Most concerning of all, without the disclosure of the brave whistleblower, the Richmond memorandum would still be operative in FBI systems, violating the religious liberties of millions of Catholic Americans.

“The basis for the Richmond memorandum relied on a single investigation in the Richmond Field Office’s area of responsibility in which the subject ‘self-described’ as a ‘radical-traditionalist Catholic’ (RTC),” added the committee and subcommittee.

“However, FBI employees could not define the meaning of an RTC when preparing, editing, or reviewing the memorandum,” the lawmakers emphasized. “Even so, this single investigation became the basis for an FBI-wide memorandum warning about the dangers of ‘radical’ Catholics.”

The report confirmed that “in addition to the investigation in Virginia, FBI Richmond relied on reporting from other field offices across the country, including FBI Los Angeles, FBI Milwaukee, and FBI Portland in making its assessment.” 

When the memo was initially leaked, the FBI claimed that it originated solely in the Richmond Field Office. However, new evidence released in August revealed that the Los Angeles and Portland offices were also involved. The committee and subcommittee’s report confirmed that the Milwaukee office was involved as well.

“The two FBI employees who co-authored the memorandum later told FBI internal investigators that they knew the sources cited in the memorandum had a political bias—sources including the Southern Poverty Law Center, Salon, and The Atlantic,” the House report stated:

The documents received pursuant to the Committee’s subpoena show that the FBI singled out Americans who are pro-life, pro-family, and support the biological basis for sex and gender distinction as potential domestic terrorists.

“The memorandum recognized ‘the run-up to the next general election cycle’ as a key time frame and cited the [Dobbs] decision that overturned Roe v. Wade as a flash point,” the committee and subcommittee indicated.

The report also noted that 

FBI Richmond’s senior leadership saw the memorandum as an opportunity to insert federal law enforcement into places of worship and support outreach efforts to the Diocese of Richmond and other Catholic parishes.

Also per the document, following public criticism about the memorandum, FBI Richmond’s Special Agent in Charge Stanley Meador met with” the Bishop of Richmond and an unnamed cardinal “to mend the FBI’s relationship with the Catholic community.”

Editor’s note. This appeared at Catholic Vote.