The FBI’s national office on Thursday repudiated a reported internal memo that warned about a connection between so-called “radical-traditionalist Catholics” and “racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists.”
The bureau told The Epoch Times that the internally distributed “field office product” about “racially or ethnically motivated violent extremism does not meet the exacting standards of the FBI.”
“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 FBI National Press Office continued. “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 statement said that “our standard practice is to not comment on specific intelligence products” but said that “this particular field office product” was “disseminated only within the FBI.” That document “does not meet the exacting standards of the FBI,” it said.
That response came in response to a question about a report from a former FBI special agent, Kyle Seraphin, who published the internal FBI memo on Wednesday via the UncoverDC website. Seraphin, himself a whistleblower who was suspended by the bureau in June 2022, stated that he obtained the document from an FBI whistleblower.
“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,” Seraphin wrote for UncoverDC. “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.”
His report included screenshots of the purported document, dated Jan. 23, which cites the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) that identified several RTC “hate groups” within the United States.
The purported document states “RTCs are typically categorized by the rejection of the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II) as a valid church council; disdain for most of the popes elected since Vatican II, particularly Pope Francis and Pope John Paul II; and frequent adherence to anti-Semtic, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ, and white supremacist ideology.”
“Radical-traditionalist Catholics compose a small minority of overall Roman Catholic adherents and are separate and distinct from ‘traditionalist Catholics’ who prefer the Traditional Latin Mass and pre-Vatican II teachings and traditions, without the more extremist ideological beliefs and violent rhetoric,” it says.
The report, which came from the FBI Richmond office, also alleged that there is an “ongoing convergence of the far-right white nationalists’ movement and RTCs” that was “further demonstrated through the increase in hostility toward abortion rights advocates on social media sites in the lead up to and the aftermath of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision that overturned Roe v. Wade” in the summer of last year.
Seraphin told the Daily Signal that when he worked at the FBI building in Quantico, Virginia, the bureau often got false reports that were provided by the SPLC. Over the years, conservatives have criticized the group for unfairly targeting conservative and religious groups.
“We got briefings that SPLC was not legitimate when I was at Quantico,” he told the Daily Signal this week, adding that “a real intelligence product would quote [SPLC] and say, ‘unsubstantiated.’”
Other than the SPLC, the field office report also cited articles from Salon.com, a far-left news outlet, that targeted Nick Fuentes and Catholic groups. At least one article from The Atlantic was also cited.
Seraphin said those articles “offer only circumstantial suggestions of affiliations between inflammatory figures like Milo Yiannopoulos and Nick Fuentes and a man pictured standing on the steps of a Catholic church in New York after the Dobbs decision.”