Statement by Brother Andre Marie, MICM, on the Proposed Surveillance of the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart Of Mary by Federal Authorities

I was shocked and saddened to learn that the Virginia office our country’s premier law enforcement agency — the Federal Bureau of Investigation — now regards our humble religious community, along with other traditional Catholics, as an extremist menace to American society, which must be monitored, and even infiltrated, by the federal government.

As leader of that community, I must protest against this defamatory falsehood, the injustice which it does to our good name, and the threat that it represents to the exercise of our apostolate.

As a citizen of one of these United States — the great state of New Hampshire — I am appalled and outraged that some in America’s most powerful federal agency now propose to surveil peaceful, law-abiding Americans because of their traditional religious beliefs — the same beliefs which for Catholics, until a few generations ago, were held always and everywhere, by everyone.

What is especially troubling is the decision of Virginia FBI officials to embrace, as a credible source, the systemically corrupt hate merchants of the Southern Poverty Law Center. When it comes to traditional Catholics, particularly the Saint Benedict Center, the SPLC has a toxic history of reckless disregard for the truth, rising to the level of actual malice.

More than fifteen years ago, when the SPLC first began its smear campaign against the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, we invited agents from the New Hampshire office of the FBI to visit the Saint Benedict Center, and to interview us about our religious life and our apostolate. Upon the conclusion of their visit, the two FBI agents assured us that they attached no credibility, none whatsoever, to the unfounded claims of the SPLC.

The Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary of the Saint Benedict Center will explore all legal avenues to protect our constitutional rights from unwarranted and unlawful interference from the federal government.

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.

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