The FBI is retracting a leaked document that advised Bureau agents to infiltrate Catholic groups, claiming they posed a risk of extremist violence.
In a statement to The Daily Caller, the FBI admitted the new policy “does not meet the exacting standards of the FBI” and that the Bureau will be conducting an internal review.
There are hundreds of Catholic organizations across the nation ranging from The Knights of Columbus, (known for local charity work, fish fries and giving out college scholarships), to groups promoting the sanctity of life issues and a return to the Catholic Mass.
The document, which was published on the website UncoverDC and is titled “Interest of Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremists in Radical-Traditionalist Catholic Ideology Almost Certainly Presents New Mitigation Opportunities,” the document singles out Catholics who are interested in the Traditional Latin Mass as potentially linked to violent extremist groups.
“Upon learning of the document, FBI Headquarters quickly began taking action to remove the document from FBI systems and conduct a review of the basis for the document,” the agency states. “The FBI is committed to sound analytic tradecraft and to investigating and preventing acts of violence and other crimes while upholding the constitutional rights of all Americans and will never conduct investigative activities or open an investigation based solely on First Amendment protected activity.”
Former FBI agent and whistleblower Kyle Seraphin published the now confirmed document, which he wrote is “dated January 23, 2023” and originated with an “intelligence analyst within the Richmond Field Office.” Seraphin, who describes himself as a “confirmed Catholic” in his bio, did not say how he obtained the document.
The FBI report assesses with “high confidence” that the threat from so-called radical traditional Catholics (RTCs) can be mitigated through “source development,” among other strategies.
The document Seraphin posted claims that Catholics “characterized by the rejection of the Second Vatican Council” can be prone to “anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ and white supremacist ideology.”
The Second Vatican Council, which concluded in 1965, replaced the 16th-century Latin mass with the vernacular Novus Ordo form. Some schismatic groups reject the validity of Vatican II, while other Catholics have attempted to preserve the old Latin liturgy while maintaining communion with Rome.
The FBI document cites various reports from the controversial and recently discredited Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), including the group’s list of “Radical Traditional Catholicism Hate Groups.” The SPLC has a history of targeting conservative groups, and has worked with major social media platforms to help them police “hate speech.”
The SPLC has faced questions about its credibility from conservative and Christian organizations that have accused the group of a left-wing bias. Among the groups that made the SPLC’s 2021 list of supposed “hate groups” are the conservative and pro-family groups Alliance Defending Freedom, the Family Research Council, ACT for America, the Center for Security Policy, and the American Freedom Law Center.
The FBI continues to come under fire for leaked memos describing parents as threats to local school board meetings. Congressional Republicans continue to call for an investigation into the FBI’s politicization of field offices on behalf of the Biden administration and officials.