February 10, 2023
Today, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes and 19 other attorneys general joined a letter led by Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares to Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray and U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland. The letter strongly condemns an anti-Catholic internal memorandum created by the Richmond, Virginia, FBI field office that became public on February 8, 2023. The memo targets Catholics as potential threats due to their religious beliefs. The attorneys general request a full explanation of the document’s origins, documents related to its implementation, information regarding how this document has already affected Virginia’s Catholic population, and information on whether the FBI has begun infiltrating houses of worship in conflict with the FBI’s internal guidelines.
The memorandum distinguishes between what the FBI deems acceptable and unacceptable Catholic beliefs and practices. The memorandum suggests that there are “radical-traditionalists” who could be “racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists.” According to the memo, the FBI believes these are Catholics who prefer a traditional Latin mass and pre-Vatican II teachings. It also suggests that the FBI should develop “sources with access” in “places of worship”—meaning that the FBI should start recruiting Catholics to spy on their fellow parishioners. The document is sourced with information from a widely discredited report issued by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The FBI’s damage control efforts and promise to review the memo in response to public outrage do not change the fact that this was an internal, official policy document not meant for public knowledge. The fact that this document was created in the first place demands answers.
Attorney General Reyes signed the letter, along with attorneys general from the following states: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Read the letter here.