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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.” 

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.”