“The FBI’s Richmond Division would like to protect Virginians from the threat of “white supremacy,” which it believes has found a home within Catholics who prefer the Latin Mass. An intelligence analyst within the Richmond Field Office of the FBI released in a new finished intelligence product dated January 23, 2023, on Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremists (RMVE) and their interests in “Radical-Traditionalist Catholics” or RTCs. The document assesses with “high confidence” the FBI can mitigate the threat of Radical-Traditionalist Catholics by recruiting sources within the Catholic Church.
The acronym, new to many in the Domestic Counterterrorism field, comes with a footnote by the writer explaining RTCs are “typically characterized by the rejection of the Second Vatican Council.” The writer makes an unsubstantiated leap that a preference for the Catholic Mass in Latin instead of the vernacular and a number of more traditional views on other world religions can amount to an “adherence to anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ and white supremacist ideology.” This writer draws the important distinction between “traditional Catholics,” who simply prefer the Traditional Latin Mass and pre-Vatican II teachings, and RTCs, who espouse “more extremist ideological beliefs and violent rhetoric.”
A discerning reader may wonder why the writer believes such divisions exist and if there is evidence of the extremist and violent rhetoric within the Catholic church. The analyst’s note doesn’t provide specifics. When the FBI generates an intelligence product, it is important to note the analyzed sources. Typically, strict source vetting removes partisanship and bias, so a product is both consistent with federal law and can add value to the FBI’s overall mission. Of note, this document was reviewed and approved for release by the FBI Richmond Chief Division Counsel, who is the office’s top lawyer.
The attached appendices refer to a number of articles and the out-of-FBI-policy Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) at the end of the document. For example, Appendix D is a direct copy of the SPLC list of “Radical Traditional Catholicism Hate Groups,” including the web address accessed. The SPLC appears to be a source for the intelligence analyst’s beliefs that RTCs exist and that they are anti-Semitic. The SPLC description for this “hate group” states RTCs “may make up the largest single group of serious anti-semites in America.” Often in the intelligence world, this type of statement without any established evidence is often followed by the acronym “NFI” or “No Further Information” to indicate it is an unsubstantiated opinion. Additionally, SPLC states RTCs “embrace extremely conservative social ideals with respect to women.” Nothing reported by the SPLC indicates the number of adherents to this alleged ideology nor any instances of violence. This lack of evidence and blatant partisan blindness is one of many reasons the FBI has distanced itself from the SPLC as a source in the past 10 years. The intelligence product includes endnote citations from two other sources: the far-Left online magazine Salon and the equally left-leaning The Atlantic. The Salon articles cited are typical of partisan click-bait writing: “Traditional Catholics and White Nationalist Groypers Forge a new Far-Right Youth Movement” and “White Nationalists Get Religion: On the Far-Right Fringe, Catholics and Racists Forge a movement.” These articles were released a day apart as a series but include substantially the same information. The articles offer only circumstantial suggestions of affiliations between inflammatory figures like Milo Yiannopoulos and Nick Fuentes and a man pictured standing on the steps of a Catholic church in New York after the Dobbs decision. The Salon writer makes the wild leap that using a photo of someone at a church indicates the pictured individual or his beliefs are relevant within a religious institution with 70 million adherents in the United States alone and over 2000 years of tradition and history. (Read more: UncoverDC, 2/8/2023) (Archive)