House Report Sheds Light On FBI Targeting Of Catholics, Pro-Lifers

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The FBI reportedly “abused its counterterrorism tools” to go after Catholics and pro-lifers “as potential domestic terrorists,” according to a new report from the House Weaponization Subcommittee released Monday.

In February, the FBI retracted an internal memorandum from the Richmond field office, which described traditionalist Roman Catholics as “radical” and claimed they espoused “anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ and white supremacist ideology,” after facing immense backlash. The House Weaponization subcommittee conducted an investigation into the memo’s origins and found that the agency had “singled out” Americans with Catholic and pro-life beliefs, according to the documents first reported by Fox Digital. (RELATED: ‘No Factual Basis’: Pro-Life Pregnancy Orgs Say Blue State AG Is ‘Targeting’ Them Over Abortion Reversal Pill Stance)

“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 report reads. “The memorandum recognized ‘the run-up to the next general election cycle’ as a key time frame and cited the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision that overturned Roe v. Wade as a flash point.”

Parishioners worship during a mass to celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary at St Paul Cathedral, the mother church of the Pittsburgh Diocese on August 15, 2018, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

The report noted that while the memo was still being developed the FBI had allegedly met with a bishop and a choir director sometime in November or December 2022 in Virginia and that the “FBI directly communicated with Catholic clergy and staff about parishioners practicing their faith.” The church was an SSPX affiliate, which is the society of Saint Pius X and is not in full communion with Rome, according to the society’s website.

The subcommittee also alleges that if the memo had not been made public via a whistleblower, it would likely still be in effect,” violating the religious liberties of millions of Catholic Americans.”

Despite multiple requests from the committee, the FBI continues to have no estimate on how many other field offices had access to the memo and “cannot confirm whether any outreach occurred to Catholic parishes as a result of the memorandum,” according to the report. The FBI also did not have any “legitimate basis” for drafting the memo other than a “single investigation” by the Richmond Field Office into a “self-described” … “radical-traditionalist Catholic.”

The committee’s report repeatedly blasted the agency for withholding information and failing to provide documentation of the process by which the memo was conceived and distributed. The investigation found that even the FBI’s internal review of the situation found “errors at every step of the drafting, review, and approval of Richmond’s Catholic ‘intelligence product.'”

One of the authors of the memo also admitted that the Southern Poverty Law Center, which was cited in the document, was known for “political bias,” according to the report.

“Yet the analysts did not provide any caveats about the bias or credibility of the source in the memorandum,” the report reads, “Instead, they wrote in the memorandum that ‘FBI Richmond makes this assessment with high confidence.’ In other words, the analysts cited and relied on the SPLC, Salon, and The Atlantic knowing the sources were politically biased to support a false narrative.”

A spokesperson for the FBI told the DCNF that “any characterization that the FBI is targeting Catholics is false.”

“The interviews of the priest and choir director highlighted by the committee’s report were conducted by FBI Richmond during an investigation of an individual threatening violence who has since been arrested,” the spokesperson said. “The interviews were not conducted for the domain perspective as characterized by the report. We have stated repeatedly that the intelligence product prepared by one FBI field office did not meet the exacting standards of the FBI and was quickly removed from FBI systems. An internal review conducted by the FBI found 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.”

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include comment from the FBI.

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