(Daily Caller) – The FBI is retracting a leaked document that advised the Bureau to infiltrate groups of traditionalist Roman Catholics who the assessment claimed were at risk of committing acts of extremist violence, the Daily Caller has learned.
The FBI tells the Caller that the document, put forward by the Richmond field office, “does not meet the exacting standards of the FBI” and that the Bureau will be conducting an internal review.
“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 told the Caller. “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.”
The document showed that the FBI’s field office in Richmond was considering infiltrating groups of traditionalist Roman Catholics who prefer the Latin mass, a whistleblower revealed Wednesday.
Former FBI agent and whistleblower Kyle Seraphin published the alleged 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 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 document expresses the FBI’s concern that racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists (RMVEs) will use traditionalist Catholic social media groups and parishes as “facilitation platforms to promote violence.” It also connects RTCs to an “increase in hostility toward abortion-rights advocates on social media in the run-up to and aftermath of” the Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade.
Among the Catholic or Catholic-adjacent groups mentioned in the document are the traditionalist Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX), the right-wing Catholic news outlet Church Militant and “groypers,” the nickname for followers of traditionalist Catholic political commentator and Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes.
The memo cites “growing collaboration” between Church Militant and Fuentes’ America First organization as evidence of increasing ties between traditionalist Catholics and extremist groups. The document draws on three articles — two from Salon and one from The Atlantic — to make the connection. The articles outline a series of interviews, tweets and events in which people affiliated with Church Militant praised America First and its activities. None of the three articles cited in the document provide explicit examples of violence or terrorism committed by traditionalist Catholics.
Church Militant told the Caller that they have “zero connection” to Fuentes.
“The FBI report is based on ‘reporting’ by far-left extremists group and media outlets which clearly demonstrate zero understanding of Catholic theology. Those voluminous errors then found their way into this FBI report where flat out false conclusions are drawn,” CM said in a statement to the Caller. “Church Militant (and all faithful Catholics) in no way hates women, blacks, jews, immigrants or anyone else we may be accused of hating. To disagree with social or political points of view does not signify ‘hate’. It signifies disagreement.”
“Likewise, to bolster its fear-mongering, the FBI report goes on to try and draw an imaginary link between Catholics and ‘white supremacy’ yet never defines what that ubiquitous term actually means,” the statement continues. “Church Militant does not believe that ‘whites are superior’ or non-white races are somehow inferior. We are faithful catholics and Catholic teaching abhors such a notion. CM has zero connection to any person or outfit who espouses these anti-Catholic ideologies and condemns such beliefs. The FBI report falsely suggests that all of this is bound up in potential violence aimed at abortion supporters. For the record, Church Militant in no way shape or form supports physical violence against those with whom we disagree on moral/political issues of the day.”
The FBI has come under fire in recent months for its alleged bias against conservative individuals and groups. On Jan. 30, a Catholic pro-life father was found not guilty after armed FBI agents raided his home for shoving an abortion clinic volunteer he claimed was verbally assaulting his son.