THE FBI AND LATIN RITE CATHOLICS
So many of you sent me the story about the Richmond, Virginia FBI field office memo about FBI tracking of Latin rite Catholics, that I have to blog about it. In doing so, I am fully cognizant that I am painting a very large target on myself, so if I suddenly disappear or have another heart attack, you'll know what has happened: the Swamp has struck again. Since the story first appeared, the memo has been "retracted," but rest assured, the type of thinking behind it did not:
The article's contents are chilling in their implications:
The FBI’s Richmond field office released an internal memo last month warning against “radical traditionalist Catholic ideology,” and claiming it “almost certainly presents new mitigation opportunities,” according to a document shared by an FBI whistleblower on Wednesday.
Kyle Seraphin, who was a special agent at the bureau for six years before he was indefinitely suspended without pay in June 2022, published the document, “Interest of Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremists in Radical Traditionalist Catholic Ideology Almost Certainly Presents New Mitigation Opportunities,” on UncoverDC.com.
“In making this assessment, FBI Richmond relied on the key assumption that [racially or ethnically motivated extremists] will continue to find [radical-traditionalist Catholic or RTC] ideology attractive and will continue to attempt to connect with RTC adherents, both virtually via social media and in-person at places of worship,” the document from January 23 states.
It adds that “RTCs are typically categorized by the rejection of the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II) as a valid church council; disdain for most of the popes elected since Vatican II, particularly Pope Francis and Pope John Paul II; and frequent adherence to anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ, and white supremacist ideology. Radical-traditionalist Catholics compose a small minority of overall Roman Catholic adherents and are separate and distinct from ‘traditionalist Catholics’ who prefer the Traditional Latin Mass and pre-Vatican II teachings and traditions, without the more extremist ideological beliefs and violent rhetoric.”
It's that last paragraph, and particularly its last sentence, that concern me here, but before we get to those concerns, let us look at something else in this article:
The report relied upon information from the Southern Poverty Law Center, a legal-advocacy organization that has come under fire for including conservative nonprofits like the Alliance Defending Freedom and the American College of Pediatricians on its list of “hate groups” alongside groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the Nation of Islam.
So what is concerning me? Well, firstly, that the criteria of distinguishing between a traditionalist Roman Catholic - Latin mass, dispute and misgivings over the teachings and results of the Second Vatican Council, questions about post-council popes versus "extremist ideological beliefs and violent rhetoric" - seems rather vague. Don't get me wrong: virtually every human group, including religions, has their extremists. Not all Democrats are "woke". Not all Muslims are fanatical fundamentalists; not all Roman Catholic traditionalists are so traditional that they'd have no problem burning heretics; not all Lutherans want to permanently baptize all Anabaptists, and so on. In most cases, such fanaticism is done in the name of texts that depict and advocate religious violence. The Koran, the Old Testament (and even parts of the New) contain violent passages, and these can always be twisted. One wonders whether or not "Grand Lodge" or "Higher Degree" Freemasonry has made the Southern Poverty Law Center's hit list for its long and demonstrable connection to revolutionary movements of a violent sort.; one wonders if the FBI will decide to manipulate that group as well.
What concerns me is that the FBI would be listening to the Southern Poverty Law Center at all, as if it had some special sort of expertise or magisterium or jurisdiction over the internal teachings and affairs of the Roman Catholic Church, traditionalist or otherwise. To be sure, there has been a persistent anti-Catholicism in American culture, almost from the beginning. But viewed another way, that bias could be said to be "anti-liturgical" and "anti-sacramental" as much as anti-Roman Catholic: just ask any traditionalist Anglican (if you can find one), or traditionalist Lutheran or Eastern Orthodox and they'll tell you. America does not, as a culture, like that kind of religion, because it cannot, ultimately, be confined to "private and personal" nor to the revivalist-emotional baptistic sentimentality that has come to represent "Christianity" for most Americans; sacramental religion is always public, because being sacramental, implies its own cosmology, culture, and social organization, regardless of what any secular authority might say. To put it as simply as possible, there is a sovereignty there, whether clearly spelled out as in Roman Catholicism, or clearly implied as in the other sacramental and liturgical religions.
And that raises the issue of whether or not that bias has become part of unofficial policy in various federal agencies.
If so, I would advise extreme caution, because governments have learned the hard way that it is always dangerous business to attempt to control the internal affairs, ritual, or beliefs, of a religion. It didn't work out too well for the Roman Empire, nor for the once all-powerful and officially atheistic Soviet State; the Soviet State is gone; the synagogues, mosques, and churches, are still there, and growing. The more governments meddle, the more those groups go underground. The more they go underground, the bigger the so-called threat becomes, until it is a kind of self-fulfilled prophecy: by making enemies of religion, you make enemies of religion, and the modern American woke progressive state is doing that at a breathtaking pace. They would do well to remember the warning of Mahatma Ghandi: first they persecute you, then they kill you, then you win.
See you on the flip side...
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