Last week’s report by whistleblower Kyle Seraphin that an analyst within the Richmond Field Office of the FBI released an intelligence product profiling “the increasingly observed interest of racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists (RMVE) in radical-traditionalist Catholic ideology” was sobering but not particularly shocking.

When late last year The New York Times’ Ruth Graham took an especial interest in the flourishing Traditional Latin Mass and the increasing numbers of faithful Catholics attending these services, despite pushback from the pope, I warned something was up. Graham’s slippery references to “a rising right-wing strain within American Christianity” and the so-called “brand of new hard-right rhetoric” attracting Catholics to the Latin Mass didn’t sit well.

The FBI’s persecution of Catholic fathers for their pro-life advocacy is sickening enough. But the monitoring of a tiny subset of Catholics based on their beliefs and mode of worship is an appalling new low. The FBI memorandum has received widespread condemnation, with Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares and now 19 other state attorneys general demanding that the FBI “order agency personnel not to target Americans based on their religious beliefs and practices” and “reveal to the American public the extent to which they have engaged in such activities.”

Significantly, the FBI hasn’t shed light on whether it was tasked to investigate traditional Catholics or whether some lowly partisan ideologue in the hate-speech division got a little carried away.

In any case, one thing seems likely: The memo must have been music to the Vatican’s ears. Certainly, Christ-following, church-attending, Bible-believing, cross-bearing Catholics make poor Democrats, and therefore inevitable targets for President Joe Biden’s Justice Department. But the orthodoxy of these Catholics also puts them out of step with the church of Francis, a body increasingly aligning itself with the globalists, climate extremists, and anti-lifers who have infiltrated the highest echelons of Western political, corporate, and cultural life.

Traditional Latin Mass Catholics — who 60 years ago were known simply as “Catholics” — have been a persistent thorn in Pope Francis’ side. He has tried a couple of tactics to suppress them, notably by undoing Pope Benedict’s good work and placing severe restrictions on the celebration of the Latin Mass. Yet Francis has allowed exceptions to the rules, notably to institutes like the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, whose existence and constitutions are intrinsically linked to the ancient liturgy.

Bear in mind, the liturgy itself is not the problem. This is not about Latin, ad orientem worship, Gregorian chant, altar rails, and vestments. It’s the underlying theology that’s the sticking point.

Francis’ pontificate has been characterized by more doctrinal volatility than probably any other pope in the Catholic Church’s history. He has artfully deviated from core Catholic teaching and promoted prelates like Cardinal Robert McElroy and Cardinal Blaise Cupich, who do not seem to regard the one true God Jesus Christ as “the same yesterday today and tomorrow.” Instead, the Word Incarnate is reduced to a sort of granola mystic who reinvents himself according to the ebbing and flowing cultural tides, and who happily takes a backseat to the individual’s inviolable conscience.

Francis’ church is increasingly and perversely aligning itself with distinctly anti-Catholic voices. The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture’s 2021 conference “exploring the mind, body, and soul” hosted speakers including Chelsea Clinton, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Pfizer Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla, and Vanderbilt Professor Dr. Ellen Wright Clayton, who after Vanderbilt opened its transgender surgery facility in 2018, threatened staff with “consequences” if they conscientiously objected to participating in operations due to “religious beliefs.” Francis later appointed Columbia professor, abortion advocate, and depopulation junky Jeffrey Sachs to the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.

In her recent book The St. Gallen Mafia, author Julia Meloni brilliantly explains the method behind the seeming madness of Francis’ papacy. The shift away from doctrinal orthodoxy has been masterfully orchestrated by a clique of wayward cardinals and bishops, according to Meloni. They have been working deviously behind the scenes since the 1960s to undermine church tradition regarding clerical celibacy and the priesthood, and to challenge biblically-based teachings on contraception, adultery, and ultimately marriage and human sexuality. Previous popes, and especially the late Benedict XVI, were never likely to yield on these points. But in Jorge Bergoglio, they found their man.

Francis has pursued the dangerous “primacy of conscience” line on almost every key matter. Not so when it comes to the ancient Latin rite, which until the Second Vatican Council and the introduction in 1969 of the New Mass or Novus Ordo Mass, was the only form of the Mass celebrated throughout the world in every parish for hundreds and hundreds of years, with minor and incremental changes along the way. For Francis, worshiping idols on Vatican grounds, legitimizing same-sex couples, pandering to gender confusion, and offering Holy Communion to notorious abortion cultists like Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi, are all A-OK. But attending the Tridentine liturgy with its emphasis on theological truth, objective morality, and ancient customs is a big no-no.

The doctrinal orthodoxy of traditional Catholics, the priests that minister to them, and the handful of prelates who have their back is the one thing thwarting the Vatican’s pitch to serve as the ecclesiastical wing of an emerging anti-Christic and communistic world order. It’s easier for confused Catholics to sniff out heterodoxy when one can easily point to how things are meant to be, what Catholics should believe, and what the liturgy ought to look like.

But without this crucial point of reference, Francis and his cronies can remold the Catholic Church into whatever they want. It will be done — it is being done — with such stealth that the average attendee of the Novus Ordo doesn’t even realize that the rug is being pulled out from under his feet. On the outside, as the Venerable Fulton Sheen ominously prophesied, it will look like the Catholic Church. But the neo-Marxist, pantheistic, humanist, and relativistic mantra that subverts the Word of God with the will of man will bear no resemblance to the mystical Body of Christ.

This is why sooner or later, the so-called radical traditionalists are going to have to be forced out, frightened off, or set loose on each other. Finagling a way to declare a schism is one possibility. But were a weaponized federal law enforcement agency to exploit bogus accusations of racism, white supremacy, violence, and religious extremism, to bully the rad trads into submission, this could be more efficacious yet.

Caught with their pants down, the FBI did at least rescind last week’s leaked document, apparently conceding that analytical rigor requires more than sourcing trash “research” from publications like Salon, which earlier this month tellingly ridiculed Christians for denouncing the Grammy Awards’ glorification of Satan worship. However, the bureau has remained conspicuously silent on whether it is indeed monitoring Latin Mass communities for “hate speech.”

In its carefully worded email to The Daily Signal’s Tyler O’Neil, the FBI’s national press office clarified that it “will never conduct investigative activities or open an investigation based solely on First Amendment protected activity [my emphasis].” In other words, if the FBI regards some aspect of a church group’s beliefs or practices as “racially or ethnically motivated violent extremism,” this falls outside of “protected activity,” and the feds will happily investigate away.

Now that the communists have sunk their teeth into what they’re venomously maligning as “a patently Catholic form of hate,” they’re unlikely to let go. The New York Times was magnanimous enough to subtly warn Catholics this was coming. The FBI has failed to reassure them it’s going to stop. And over in Rome, the powers that be are gleefully rubbing their hands, and wondering why they didn’t think of it first.

Original story by Carina Benton on The Federalist.

Carina Benton is a dual citizen of Australia and Italy and a permanent resident of the United States. A recent West Coast émigré, she is now helping to repopulate the country’s interior. She holds a master’s degree in education and has taught languages, literature, and writing for many years in Catholic and Christian, as well as secular institutions. She is a practicing Catholic and a mother of two young children.