CatholicVote, joined by Judicial Watch, is suing the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice for information regarding the scandal of the federal agencies targeting American Catholics.
“On March 8th, 2023, CatholicVote sent FOIA requests to the FBI and DOJ seeking access to records pertaining to Catholics and other topics related to the leaked memo,” CatholicVote stated in a Thursday press release:
Even though FOIA norms require agencies to respond within 20 business days, with an additional 10 for “unusual circumstances,” over a month has passed and to date the FBI and DOJ have failed to produce the requested records or even communicate whether they plan to comply with the requests.
CatholicVote President Brian Burch added:
Our weaponized and corrupt government agencies have demonstrated a pattern of contempt for justice and the rule of law by prioritizing partisan ideology and agendas over the protection of the American people – in particular those with whom they disagree politically. We are demanding transparency from our government and are determined to uncover just how high up the anti-Catholic bigotry goes.
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DOJ has lied and lied and lied about their Catholic targeting. Sue them https://t.co/JsjEDFiJ0x
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) April 27, 2023
This week’s lawsuit, which demands information the agencies are required to provide to the public upon request under the Freedom of Information Act, comes amid increased public scrutiny of the Biden administration’s treatment of Catholics. Critics say that the federal government has selectively applied the law to discriminate against Catholics, especially in the wake of the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade last year.
Under pressure from the House Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, the administration recently revealed that officials had been targeting both “radical-traditionalist” and “mainline” Catholic parishes with surveillance and information-gathering.
As CatholicVote has reported:
“Based on the limited information produced by the FBI to the Committee, we now know that the FBI relied on at least one undercover agent to produce its analysis,” wrote Committee Chair Jim Jordan, R-OH, in a Monday letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray. The FBI further “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 said the “shocking” new information “reinforces our need for all responsive documents, and the Committee is issuing a subpoena to you to compel your full cooperation.”
According to the limited documentation the FBI released to Congress, the FBI had sought to use Catholic churches as “new avenues for tripwire and source development,” including at “mainline Catholic parishes” and among “local diocesan leadership.”
The Agency also aimed to “sensitize” Catholic churchgoers “to the warning signs of radicalization,” and “enlist their assistance to serve as suspicious activity tripwires.”
“In February, a leaked memo from the FBI Richmond Field Office exposed the Bureau for targeting Catholics,” CatholicVote stated in its press release this week. “The memo, which relied on ideologically driven criteria from the discredited and far-left Southern Poverty Law Center, was denounced by CatholicVote as another shocking example of the dangerous weaponization of government agencies against political enemies.”
CatholicVote noted that a subpoena from Jordan confirmed “that the leaked memo, originally disavowed under oath by Attorney General Garland as an isolated incident initiated by a low-level rogue agent, was actually approved by senior intelligence analysts and distributed to field offices across the country.”
“This spying on Catholics comes after hundreds of violent attacks have been carried out against pro-life organizations and Catholic churches throughout the country; attacks that have been virtually ignored by the FBI and DOJ,” CatholicVote stated. “Meanwhile, the DOJ has exerted maximum effort to harass, intimidate and prosecute pro-life advocates to the fullest extent of the law.”
When the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was first leaked to the public in May 2022, a number of abortion terrorist groups singled out Catholics for “revenge,” tying the Church’s teachings against abortion to the pro-life Supreme Court victory.
Since then, CatholicVote has tracked well over 200 attacks on Catholic churches, as well as pro-life women’s resource centers – many of which are operated by Catholics. Many of the attacks were perpetrated by Leftist radicals who tagged the crime scenes with anti-Catholic and pro-abortion slogans in spray paint.
Over the course of 2022, however, the Biden Justice Department brought charges against over two dozen pro-life Americans under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act for their activities – mostly peaceful protests and prayer gatherings – outside of abortion facilities. And during that same span of time, the administration brought no charges against pro-abortion radicals. The FACE Act does not only prohibit actions against abortion facilities, but also crimes against houses of worship and medical centers that do not offer abortions.
When it was further revealed that officials within the FBI were targeting Catholics, it created a firestorm of backlash from America’s Catholic leaders, including the bishop of the Richmond, VA diocese, and Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, who accused the FBI of “religious profiling” against Catholics.
The backlash continues to mount, and CatholicVote’s lawsuit this week is likely to draw more attention than ever to claims that federal officials are engaged in a campaign of discrimination against Catholics.
LifeNews Note: Joshua Mercer writes for CatholicVote, where this column originally appeared.