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FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee July 12, 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

(LifeSiteNews) — Following intense backlash, the FBI has now released a statement saying it is not only retracting, but also investigating why an anti-Catholic memo that relied on a report published by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to justify its surveillance of Latin Mass communities was issued by its Richmond, Virginia office last month.

“While our standard practice is not to comment on specific intelligence products, this particular field office product — disseminated only within the FBI — regarding racially or ethnically motivated violent extremism does not meet the exacting standards of the FBI,” the statement reads. 

Reporter Tyler O’Neil of The Daily Signal posted the remarks on his Twitter account. He’d just sent an email to the FBI inquiring about the explosive eight-page document, which was leaked to the public by former staffer turned whistleblower Kyle Seraphin on Wednesday.  

In recent weeks, the FBI has come under scrutiny for blatant political targeting of conservatives. Today marks the first day of Congressional hearings into the agency’s corrupt behavior by a select committee chaired by Ohio GOP Rep. Jim Jordan. 

In its statement, the FBI claims that “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 original document, intended for internal use only, was anonymously published on January 23. Seraphin released it on this week on February 8. 

The statement continues: “The FBI is committed to sound analytic tradecraft and to investigate and prevent 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.” 

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The FBI is planning to intensify its “assessment” and “mitigation” of “Radical Traditionalist Catholics” over the next 12 to 24 months according to an explosive document from a former agent turned whistleblower.

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The bombshell 8-page memo was released by former FBI agent Kyle Serpahin on his website UncoveredDC Wednesday. The report, written by an FBI analyst in Richmond, Virginia, was published for internal agency use only on January 23, is titled, “Interest of Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremists in Radical-Traditionalist Catholic Ideology Almost Certainly Presents New Mitigation Opportunities.”

Seraphin describes the briefing as an “intelligence product” that, though not being exhaustive, can be used as an initial reference point for the agency to “prop up” future investigations on the subject. He says he obtained the document from an anonymous Baptist employee for the agency.

“This is the first FBI Richmond domain product to focus on the interest of racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists in the Radical Traditional Catholic movement,” the document states. “A search of FBI databases indicates this is also the first FBI finished intelligence product to specifically address this environmental variable.”

SIGN: Politically-motivated witch-hunts of faithful Catholics cannot be allowed in a civilized society

Among the most controversial aspects of the memo is that it directly cites a defamatory study conducted by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) on the subject “Radical Traditional Catholicism.” The SPLC has long been rejected as a legitimate resource for the FBI, Seraphin says, but in this instance, it is being relied on as a primary source to justify its efforts. The memo also references three anti-Catholic smear articles (herehere, and here) published by leftwing websites Salon and The Atlantic to defend its monitoring.

The report alleges that its real motivation is a concern that “Radical Traditionalist Catholic Ideology” possesses an “anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBT, and white supremacy” outlook, and that this presents a threat to the US’s domestic well-being. The report further claims that adherents to RTC ideology “frequently share language and symbolism, such as crusader references or anti-Semitic discourses” online that pro-life white nationalists also support.

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FBI whistleblower releases docs showing agents are surveilling "Radical" Traditional Catholics in Virginia

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The SPLC is a far-left organization that has received millions of dollars from globalist financier George Schwartz, who goes by the name George Soros. It brazenly promotes the LGBT agenda and regularly peddles misinformation about people of faith. A years-old “study” it conducted on the purported dangers of “Radical Traditional Catholicism” was included in the FBI memo as a primary resource in order to justify the agency’s monitoring of certain Traditional Catholic groups. The memo claimed that “white nationalists” were increasingly seeking refuge in such communities and that “mitigation” efforts were needed.  

A growing number of Catholic figures have condemned the FBI. Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas said the agency’s plan to monitor Traditional Catholics “underscores our [society’s] deep ignorance of what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ.”

Michael Matt of The Remnant — a 150-year-old Catholic newspaper included in the SPLC’s report — has decried their study as “fake news.” Catholic Family News editor-in-chief Brian McCall said the SPLC is a “a radical political leftist front” and that the FBI’s memo reveals America has become a “dystopian” country. Political strategist Mercedes Schlapp is now calling on Congress to investigate the FBI over the matter. 

Whistleblower Kyle Seraphin responded on Twitter to news about the FBI’s about-face, suggesting the agency only backed off because it had been held to account. “The FBI doesn’t confirm information, but they confirmed this,” he wrote. “Because they were called out. Not because they would NEVER approve it. They approved it, and are embarrassed. This is the only way.”