(The Center Square) Missouri Republican Attorney General Andrew Bailey and 19 other attorneys general joined Catholic Bishops protesting religious profiling in a leaked Federal Bureau of Investigation memo.
Last week, an FBI internal memorandum dated Jan. 23, was published by Undercover DC, an investigative journalism organization. It mentioned Virginia Catholics, specifically traditional Catholics, some of whom are not in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church, according to information from the Catholic Diocese of Richmond.
The attorneys general seven-page letter of complaint was addressed to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray.
The letter states the FBI memo “identifies ‘radical-traditionalist Catholics’ as a potential ‘racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists.’ … Among those beliefs which distinguish the bad Catholics from the good ones are a preference for ‘the Traditional Latin Mass and pre-Vatican II teachings,’ and adherence to traditional Catholic teachings on sex and marriage (which the memorandum describes as ‘anti-LGBTQ’).”
In 2021, Pope Francis ended pre-Vatican II Traditional Latin Masses, stating the liturgies were dividing the Catholic Church.
Last week, New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Religious Liberty Chairman of the U.S. Catholic Council of Bishops, criticized the FBI memorandum. Dolan agreed with a statement made a day earlier by Bishop Barry Knestout of the Diocese of Richmond.
“Let me first be clear: anyone who espouses racism or promotes violence is rejecting Catholic teaching on the inherent dignity of each and every person,” Dolan’s statement said. “The USCCB roundly condemns such extremism and fully supports the work of law enforcement officials to keep our communities safe.
“I agree with my brother Bishop Barry Knestout that the leaked memorandum was nonetheless ‘troubling and offensive’ in several respects – such as in its religious profiling and reliance on dubious sourcing – and am glad it has been rescinded. We encourage federal law enforcement authorities to take appropriate measures to ensure the problematic aspects of the memo do not recur in any of their agencies’ work going forward.”
The Catholic News Agency received a response from the FBI confirming the document came from the Richmond office and it was being removed.
“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,” according to the FBI statement published by the Catholic News Agency.
Bailey said the FBI action was another attack on the First Amendment by President Joe Biden, who is a practicing Catholic.
“We already knew that President Biden was launching an attack on the First Amendment rights of Americans, as evidenced by our landmark free speech case Missouri v. Biden, but now it’s clear that he’ll weaponize unelected federal bureaucrats to go after any American who doesn’t worship the ‘right way,’” Bailey said in a statement. “The First Amendment includes both the right to free speech and religious liberty for a reason, and my office will use any tool necessary to defend the rights of all Missourians to worship as they please.”
On Saturday, Bishop David O’Connell, 69, of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles was found shot to death inside his Hacienda Heights home. Several media outlets reported law enforcement agencies were treating the case as a homicide and didn’t know of a motive. Several media outlets reported an arrest was made today in the case.
Joining Bailey were AGs from Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia.