House Judiciary Committee Subpoenas Wray After Learning FBI Planned to ‘Develop Sources’ At Catholic Churches to Rat on Fellow Parishioners

The Republican-led House Judiciary Committee issued a subpoena to FBI Director Christopher Wray on Monday, after learning that the Bureau planned to enlist sources at so-called “mainline” (Novus Ordo) Catholic parishes to inform on purportedly radicalized fellow parishioners.

In his letter to Wray, the committee’s chairman, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), revealed for the first time that the FBI “relied on information derived from at least one undercover agent to produce its analysis and that the FBI proposed that its agents engage in outreach to Catholic parishes to develop sources among the clergy and church leadership to inform on Americans practicing their faith,” Jordan wrote. “This shocking information reinforces our need for all responsive documents,” he added.

The new information came to Chairman Jordan and Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) in response to repeated document requests regarding the Bureau’s interest in spying on traditionalist Catholics.

“We have repeatedly sought information from the FBI relating to a January 23, 2023 document generated by the Richmond Field Office entitled ‘Interest of Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremists in Radical-Traditionalist Catholic Ideology Almost Certainly Presents New Mitigation Opportunities’ (FBI’s Richmond document),” Jordan wrote.

The congressman described the FBI’s March 23, 2023 response as “substandard and partial,” with many “significant redactions” that “prevented the Committee from fully assessing the content and context of the documents.”

Nevertheless, the limited information the committee received revealed that the FBI had relied on information derived from at least one undercover employee, who sought to use local religious organizations as “new avenues for tripwire and source development.”

“For example, in a section of the document entitled ‘Opportunities,’ the FBI wrote: ‘In addition to [redaction], engage in outreach to the leadership of other [Society of Saint Pius X] chapels in the FBI Richmond [area of responsibility] to sensitize these congregations to the warning signs of radicalization and to enlist their assistance to serve as suspicious activity tripwires,” the Ohio Republican wrote.

The Society of Saint Pius X is an international fraternity of traditionalist Catholic priests. According to the document, the FBI also planned to spy on “mainline” Catholic parishes in the Richmond area.

The FBI similarly noted two other opportunities to engage in outreach with religious institutions in the Richmond area, citing a desire “to sensitize the congregation to the warning signs of radicalization and enlist their assistance to serve as suspicious activity tripwires.”

This outreach plan even included contacting so-called “mainline Catholic parishes” and the local “diocesan leadership.” The FBI also expressed an interest in “leverag[ing] existing sources and/or initiat[ing] Type 5 Assessments to develop new sources with the placement and access” to report on suspicious activity.

“Type 5 Assessments” are “organized preliminary investigative activities that must have an authorized purpose and a clear scope,” FBI whistleblower Kyle Seraphin explained on Twitter. “This type of assessment is designed to create a pool of potential sources to recruit and objective weigh them in the value they provide in access and placement. The assessment includes background workups on the potential sources to determine routes to approach and recruit them as well as the likelihood they would be susceptible to recruitment.”

“This information is outrageous and only reinforces the Committee’s need for all FBI material responsive to our request,” the congressman wrote. “The documents produced to date show how the FBI sought to enlist Catholic houses of worship as potential sources to monitor and report on their parishioners. Americans attend church to worship and congregate for their spiritual and personal betterment. They must be free to exercise their fundamental First Amendment rights without worrying that the FBI may have planted so-called “tripwire” sources or other informants in their houses of worship.”

Jordan noted that the appalling proposal to develop informants in Catholic churches was “reviewed and approved by two senior intelligence analysts and even the local Chief Division Counsel.”

Moreover, the Bureau’s plan to spy on Catholics was not limited to just the Richmond area.

Whistleblowers have allegedly advised the committee that the FBI distributed this document to field offices all across the country.

“In light of this information and the serious consequences for the free exercise of Americans’ First Amendment rights, Chairman Jordan issued a subpoena today to FBI Director Wray for all documents related to the FBI’s actions,” a press release from the House Judiciary Committee Republicans said.

Christopher Dunham, Acting Assistant Director of Congressional Affairs said on March 23 that the “Domain Perspective (report) did not meet the FBI’s exacting standards and was withdrawn,” and “Upon learning of the document, FBI Headquarters removed it from our internal system. The FBI also initiated a review — which is now ongoing.”

Dunham added that “the FBI is not anti-Catholic in any way, shape, or form, and does not target people of any faith because of their religious beliefs.” And he told Jordan that the FBI “does not categorize investigations as domestic terrorism based on the religious beliefs—to include Catholicism—of the subject involved.”

According to a Bureau spokesperson, Wray was “aghast” when asked about the anti-Catholic field report by the Senate Intelligence Committee in early March. He said that the bureau had “immediately” withdrawn the field report and said of the analysis that “it does not reflect FBI standards.”

“We do not and will not target people for religious beliefs, and we do not and will not monitor people’s religious practices,” Wray told the panel on March 8. “That’s not acceptable.”

FBI Whistleblower Steve Friend told American Greatness he believes these top FBI officials lied and the latest revelations are proof that the Bureau “is beyond redemption.”

Friend, 37, was suspended in September of 2022—“stripped of his gun and badge, and escorted out of the FBI field office in Daytona Beach, Fla.”—after he made allegations about FBI misconduct in a whistleblower complaint. Friend had conscientiously objected to taking part in the Bureau’s harassment of conservative Americans.

The whistleblower said he was punished after he complained to his superiors about having to be involved in J6 investigations that were “violating citizens’ Sixth Amendment rights due to overzealous charging by the DOJ and biased jury pools in Washington, DC.”

The former special agent now works for the Center for Renewing America as a Fellow on Domestic Intelligence and Security Services.

“The FBI lied to the American people when it told us the original intelligence report from the Richmond Division was the misguided efforts of a solitary low-level analyst,” Friend said. “This new revelation demonstrates the depths which a politically weaponized federal law enforcement agency will descend to deceive the very citizens it exists to serve. The FBI deployed undercover assets to assess and recruit informants. It endeavored to develop a roster of individuals willing to inform on their fellow parishioners simply for holding traditional Catholic values. The FBI is beyond redemption.”

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About Debra Heine

Debra Heine is a conservative Catholic mom of six and longtime political pundit. She has written for several conservative news websites over the years, including Breitbart and PJ Media.

Photo: Los Angeles, CA - March 02: The public lines up for the view of Auxiliary Bishop David O'Connell at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels for Los Angeles on Thursday, March 2, 2023, in Los Angeles, CA. The public viewing started at 10:00 am before a vigil Mass for Catholic Auxiliary Bishop David Gerard O'Connell. O'Connell, was gunned down at his home on February 18th in Hacienda Heights. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)