It would be understandable if someone who attends a traditional Latin Mass (TLM) parish would feel a bit paranoid these days. After all, there’s rumors that Pope Francis is planning to release a “Traditionis Custodes 2.0” soon, in which the TLM will be further restricted and celebrating any of the other Sacraments in the traditional form will be prohibited. That alone could make the average TLM-goer feel as if he has a target on his back.
But that’s just the beginning. This week it was revealed that the FBI is looking into “radical traditional Catholic” parishes as possible enclaves of white supremacy and “racially and ethnically motivated violent extremists.” Former FBI Special Agent Kyle Seraphin released a secret report from the FBI Richmond (VA) Division that detailed how the FBI views traditional Catholics.
As someone who regularly attends the TLM, I found this report a fascinating look into the fantasy world in which the FBI apparently operates. Comparing my own parish to what is written in this document is like comparing apples to rotten oranges. The “Rad Trad” community is often accused of participating in crazy conspiracy theories, but it has nothing on the FBI’s foray into tin-foil-hat-level conspiracies as seen in this report.
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The Executive Summary of the report states that “radical-traditionalist Catholics (RTC) are typically characterized 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 anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ, and white supremacist ideology.” I’m a little surprised the Feds didn’t say RTCs like to torture puppies and steal candy from babies.
Of course these accusations look like the talking points from the Catholic Left that combine a little bit of truth with a whole lot of lies. It’s true that RTCs are at least critical of Vatican II (almost all I know do not reject it as a “valid church council”), and they are also critical of Pope Francis and even Pope John Paul II (but “disdain” is a loaded word). But then the stereotypical laundry list of “antis” is simply a lazy way of saying, “We don’t like them so we’ll smear them with the latest woke insults.”
The concern of the FBI is that “racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists (RMVEs)” will find an attractive home among RTCs because the two groups supposedly have similar views and ideologies. As the report states, “Catalyzing events in which RMVEs and RTC adherents might have common cause include legislation or judicial decisions in areas such as abortion rights, immigration, affirmative action, and LGBTQ protections.” Did you hear that, Catholics? If you (rightly) oppose the Left’s political views, you might just be a violent extremist!
Also interesting is that the FBI actually mentions a few groups. It names Church Militant in report itself, stating, “investigations have noted a growing overlap between the far-right white nationalist movement and RTCs. Illustrative of this has been the increasing collaboration of the far-right Catholic media outlet Church Militant with the America First/“groyper” movement.” Even more revealing is an appendix to the report which lists nine organizations that the Southern Poverty Law Center defined as “hate groups,” including Catholic Family News and The Remnant.
My initial reaction when I saw the SPLC list was disappointment that our sister publication OnePeterFive wasn’t included! At this point, being labeled a “hate group” by the vile SPLC should be considered a badge of honor. While I’m not overly familiar with every group on this list, I feel confident that none of them are actually hate groups.
Another sign of the sad state of this report is that multiple footnotes used to back its claims are from the far-left websites like Salon and The Atlantic. Not exactly trying to be objective, are we, Mr. Fed?
While it might be easy to laugh at this report it does reveal a sinister attitude among many of those in positions of power. At a time when Antifa and BLM terrorists are roaming our streets, the FBI thinks the 15-passenger van with the Pray the Rosary and FSSP bumper stickers is the real threat to our democracy.
My advice to fellow TLM-goers is two-fold.
First, all orthodox Catholics, whether we consider ourselves traditional or not, should see this as a move against all of us. The so-called “Rad Trads” are just the first line of attack for the elites who wish to silence and even destroy Catholicism. Don’t fall into the error of thinking that the Feds won’t eventually turn their sights on non-traditional Catholics just because you went along when they wanted to silence traditionalists.
Second, while it’s true that our elites hate us and want to see us disappear, don’t allow that disturbing reality to blossom into paranoia and break one’s peace. If some FBI agent tries to infiltrate a TLM community, he’s likely to find generous, salt-of-the earth people (of various races and ethnicities, by the way). Perhaps if he stays long enough, he might end up realizing the beauty of the Catholic Faith and might himself eventually be tagged a “radical-traditionalist Catholic.”
[Update 2/10/23: Since this was published, the FBI has announced that they will be retracting this report as it “does not meet the exacting standards of the FBI.” In other words, they got caught.]