Who would think that Catholics might be targeted by the FBI?

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A few years ago, after I’d written a series of columns about how the Catholic church had borne a disproportionate share of criticism regarding the sex abuse scandal, a number of readers responded with such negativity that they all but confirmed the anti-Catholic bias.

People generally protest when I write about the way the Catholic church has been targeted by the mainstream media and in our secular culture.

They resort to the usual tropes of “whiner,” “pedophile apologist,” and “misogynist.” That no longer surprises me.

What did surprise me was the recent revelation that the FBI had targeted traditional Catholics as domestic terrorists.

Relying on resources provided by the once mighty and now completely discredited Southern Poverty Law Center, the feds drew up a list of groups that supported the Latin Mass and described them as “radical traditionalist Catholics.”

This internal memo, which originated from the bureau’s office in Richmond, Virginia, seemed to authorize surveillance of Catholics who were simply exercising their First Amendment rights to practice their faith.

Not everyone supports the Latin Mass. In fact, Pope Francis has shown distinct hostility toward a rite and ritual that is as beautiful as it is central to Catholic tradition.

I was too young to remember much about Vatican II, which essentially eliminated the Mass in Latin, but I’ve spoken with many people who were adults at the time.

Some supported the move to the vernacular, saying that it helped bridge the divide between priests and parishioners, while others lamented the loss of beauty and mystery.

Regardless, Catholics get to decide how they want to run their show.

The federal government doesn’t have a role in that, and if we haven’t learned that lesson after 246 years, we haven’t been paying attention.

It’s also bigger than some stupid journalist in The Atlantic named Daniel Panneton trying to connect the rosary to guns, asking the rhetorical question “why are sacramental beads suddenly showing up next to AR-15s online,” calling them “rad-trad rosary-as-weapons” memes.

I might have asked him why illegitimate organizations like Catholics for Choice argue that abortion is a human right, but I’m not sure Dan would get the irony.

And not to put too fine a point on it, it’s a lot bigger than a bunch of women who insist on making cringe-inducing comments like “keep your (assault) rosaries off my ovaries” and “if men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.”

The idea that the church is anti-woman is a fallacy that only the most limited intellects have ever accepted.

That the federal government has actually begun to view Catholics as “others” is not exactly a revelation to those of use who are well-versed in the history of bigotry.

My people have always been seen as a threat to this nation by those who fear the power of the Papacy.

We all know what John F. Kennedy had to do in order to appease the anxious Protestants when he was running for office, namely, deliver a speech that included this crucial passage:

“But if the time should ever come — and I do not concede any conflict to be even remotely possible — when my office would require me to either violate my conscience or violate the national interest, then I would resign the office; and I hope any conscientious public servant would do the same.

“But I do not intend to apologize for these views to my critics of either Catholic or Protestant faith, nor do I intend to disavow either my views or my church in order to win this election.”

And he did not disavow his views, or his faith.

These days, it seems as if many in the public sphere feel the need not only to disavow their Catholic faith, but to openly ridicule it.

That, in turn, has given those outside of the faith permission to vilify people who share views that the society might find unpalatable, like the innate humanity of the unborn child and the essential dignity of the aging body.

The FBI had its reasons for targeting traditional Catholics, and those reasons derive from reliance on groups like the SPLC, which foment hatred under the guise of stopping it.

That we live in a country where the government compiles secret lists of what someone once called “deplorables” is reminiscent of the countries from which refugees have been forced to flee.

Copyright 2023 Christine Flowers, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Christine Flowers is an attorney and a columnist for the Delaware County Daily Times, and can be reached at [email protected].