- The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) allegedly used an undercover agent to target the clergy and leadership of the Catholic Church, according to GOP Representative Jim Jordan.
- Jordan issued a subpoena to FBI Director Christopher Wray related to his committee’s investigation into the FBI’s alleged targeting of Catholic parishioners.
- The Republican said that enlisting clergy to monitor their parishes prevents Americans who attend church from being able to exercise their First Amendment rights.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) allegedly used an undercover agent to target the clergy and leadership of the Catholic Church, according to GOP Representative Jim Jordan.
On Monday, Jordan, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray alerting Wray that he was being subpoenaed for an investigation into the agency’s handling of a domestic extremism analysis that proposed developing sources among church leaders to look for signs of radicalization among Catholic parishioners.
The subpoena is the latest development in Jordan’s probe into the FBI’s alleged misuse of domestic violent extremism resources. House Republicans first accused Wray of exploiting those resources for “political purposes” after an eight-paged internal memo was leaked by a former special agent.
Back in February, former FBI agent Kyle Seraphin leaked a memo that revealed plans to spy on a Catholic denomination in Richmond, Virginia, as part of an effort to protect people from the threat of white supremacy—a threat that the FBI believed to have “found a home within Catholics who prefer the Latin Mass.”
The FBI issued a statement last month and has said the memo “does not meet the exacting standards” of the agency and that headquarters have removed it from the system upon learning of the document. The matter is currently undergoing internal review.
Christopher Dunham, the acting assistant director of Congressional Affairs, said in a March 23 statement, “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.”
Attorneys general from 19 Republican-led states have also penned a letter to Wray and Attorney General Merrick Garland condemning the memo and asking for additional information.
In Monday’s letter, Jordan said that “based on the limited information produced by the FBI to the Committee,” documents from the agency show that Catholic houses of worship were enlisted as sources to help monitor and report on parishioners.
Jordan said that engaging in such outreach prevents Americans who attend church from being able to exercise their First Amendment rights “without worrying that the FBI may have planted so-called ‘tripwire’ sources or other informants in the house of worship.”
“The FBI purported to categorize Catholic Americans based on theological distinctions and relied on the Southern Poverty Law Center to suggest that certain kinds of Catholic Americans may be domestic terrorists,” Jordan said.
“This shocking information reinforces our need for all responsible documents, and the Committee is issuing a subpoena to you to compel your full cooperation,” the Republican wrote to the agency’s director.
Newsweek reached out to the FBI for comment.