When asked to clarify, Meador said he was referring to the “general subject” of the supposed connection between so-called radical traditionalist Catholics and racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists.
The investigation also references information disclosed by a whistleblower about FBI agents interviewing a priest and a choir director at a church associated with the Society of St. Pius X in Richmond. The SSPX holds a canonically irregular status with the Catholic Church due to its founder, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, consecrating bishops without papal approval.
“The interviews appear to have occurred in November and December 2022 — the same time the analysts started drafting the memorandum,” the report states. “This information, which the FBI has refused to disclose, confirms that the FBI directly communicated with Catholic clergy and staff about parishioners practicing their faith.”
In a statement to CNA on Tuesday, the FBI disputed the report’s claim, saying that the priest and choir director were interviewed “by FBI Richmond during an investigation of an individual threatening violence who has since been arrested [and] … the interviews were not conducted for the domain perspective as characterized by the report.”
“Any characterization that the FBI is targeting Catholics is false,” the statement read. “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.”
The committee, however, said in its report that the bureau “continues to resist several of the committee’s requests for transparency and answers.”
The report said that the FBI “must take decisive action to rebuild public trust,” noting that the Richmond office hasn’t issued a public apology nor removed any employees involved in the creation of the memo.