The FBI’s Richmond Division would like to protect Virginians from the threat of “white supremacy,” which it believes has found a home within Catholics who prefer the Latin Mass. An intelligence analyst within the Richmond Field Office of the FBI released in a new finished intelligence product dated January 23, 2023, on Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremists (RMVE) and their interests in “Radical-Traditionalist Catholics” or RTCs. The document assesses with “high confidence” the FBI can mitigate the threat of Radical-Traditionalist Catholics by recruiting sources within the Catholic Church.
The acronym, new to many in the Domestic Counterterrorism field, comes with a footnote by the writer explaining RTCs are “typically characterized by the rejection of the Second Vatican Council.” The writer makes an unsubstantiated leap that a preference for the Catholic Mass in Latin instead of the vernacular and a number of more traditional views on other world religions can amount to an “adherence to anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ and white supremacist ideology.” This writer draws the important distinction between “traditional Catholics,” who simply prefer the Traditional Latin Mass and pre-Vatican II teachings, and RTCs, who espouse “more extremist ideological beliefs and violent rhetoric.”
A discerning reader may wonder why the writer believes such divisions exist and if there is evidence of the extremist and violent rhetoric within the Catholic church. The analyst’s note doesn’t provide specifics. When the FBI generates an intelligence product, it is important to note the analyzed sources. Typically, strict source vetting removes partisanship and bias, so a product is both consistent with federal law and can add value to the FBI’s overall mission. Of note, this document was reviewed and approved for release by the FBI Richmond Chief Division Counsel, who is the office’s top lawyer.