Some hours after we posted our statement, based upon a leaked FBI field office memo, on the proposed surveillance of our community by the FBI, the Bureau retracted its memo. Responding to multiple media inquiries, the FBI promised to scrub the memo from their system and investigate how this sloppy work product — which does not meet the FBI’s “exacting standards” — ended up being circulated internally in the first place. (See here and here for news on the retraction.)
In rescinding this memo of infamy, the upper echelons of the FBI ended up fulfilling the hope we expressed in our statement of yesterday:
The elements in the FBI that are advocating this intrusion must be reminded that the Bureau exists to defend America’s freedoms, not to subvert them. Hopefully, the leadership of the FBI will impart that message to its office in Richmond, Virginia.
It seems they did just that. Deo Gratias! Time will tell if the various organs of the federal government really respect our constitutionally protected free exercise of religion — not only “in church,” but also in the public square, where it belongs front and center.
Over fifteen years ago, when the SPLC targeted us and several other traditionalist Catholic organizations as “hate groups,” the blow-back was nothing like this; nor did the SPLC get such bad press as the FBI did over this matter yesterday — in both the secular and the Catholic media. Back in those days, many in the secular and Catholic media lapped up the drivel from the SPLC as if it were utterly unimpeachable and thereby contributed to the marginalization of traditional Catholics.
To what do we owe the change?
I believe that there has been a heightened consciousness that the SPLC is, in the words of C.J. Doyle, “a lucrative bunco scheme which monetizes left wing paranoia by inciting fear of conservative Christians.” The organization is so thoroughly discredited now that only the utterly ill informed or slavishly ideological put any stock in the veracity of its lunatic utterances.
But what explains the sympathy for “rad trads” that came across in some of the more mainstream Catholic press, who took this as an attack against Catholics and not just a jab at some “fringe elements,” as they might have said years ago? That cannot be explained exclusively by the well-deserved infamy of the SPLC. Perhaps, thanks to the pro-tradition interventions of Pope Benedict, traditionalists have found some genuine respectability in the Church. Perhaps, further, in the pontificate of Pope Francis, traditionalists have become objects of sympathy.
We should use whatever forward momentum this episode has generated and continue to work for the conversion of America to the Catholic Faith and the restoration of authentic Catholic catechesis, liturgy, and living.
Let us show by our virtue, especially by our charity, the truth of what Pope Saint Pius X wrote in his beautiful encyclical, Notre Charge Apostolique: “the true friends of the people are neither revolutionaries nor innovators, but traditionalists.”