UPDATE: Since the publication of this story, the FBI has released a statement retracting the memo that was leaked to the public. To read LifeSite’s latest coverage, click here.
RICHMOND, Virginia (LifeSiteNews) — A document released by an FBI whistleblower indicates the agency plans to intensify its “assessment” and “mitigation” of “Radical Traditionalist Catholics” over the next 12 to 24 months due to alleged concerns that “white nationalists” are increasingly making common cause online with attendees of the Latin Mass.
As promised, the @FBIRichmond office pushing for source recruiting in the Catholic Church in order to mitigate #WhiteSupremacy on the advice of the Leftist and out of FBI Policy @splcenter “hate watch” activists.
— Kyle Seraphin (@KyleSeraphin) February 8, 2023
The bombshell 8-page memo was released by former FBI agent turned whistleblower Kyle Seraphin on UncoveredDC Wednesday. The report, written by an FBI analyst in Richmond, Virginia, 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.”
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 (here, here, and here) published by leftwing websites Salon and The Atlantic to defend its monitoring.
In general, the report shows an above average understanding of the various pro-Latin Mass communities in the church, including the Fraternal Society of St. Peter, the Priestly Society of St. Pius X, the SSPX “Resistance” as well as sedevacantist groups. It notes that the FSSP and SSPX have “houses of worship” in the Richmond area. It also says other FBI investigations, local law enforcement reports, and un-named liaisons have helped compile its findings – an indication that persons familiar with these communities have been in touch with intelligence officials.
“FBI Richmond relied on the key assumption that racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists will continue to find Radical Traditionalist Catholic (RTC) ideology attractive and will continue to attempt to connect with RTC adherents, both via social media and in-person at places of worship” it reads.
The report further states that there now exists “new opportunities for threat mitigation through the exploration of new avenues for tripwire and source development.”
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.
The document then compares followers of RTC ideology to ordinary “traditional Catholics” who simply “prefer the Latin Mass and pre-Vatican II teachings and traditions, but without the more extremist ideological beliefs and violent rhetoric.”
The memo identifies nine Traditional Catholic organizations allegedly guilty of promoting RTC ideology: Catholic Family News, The Remnant, The Fatima Center, Tradition in Action, Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Culture Wars, In the Spirit of Chartres, Christ or Chaos, and Catholic Apologetics International. These groups were all listed in the SPLC report.
Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas provided LifeSite with the following statement about the document:
Sadly, the experience of Mark Houck provides evidence that this type of surveillance is not beyond the realm of possibility. It underscores our societies deep ignorance of what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ or as presently stated “radical traditional Catholic.” Our Lord tells us to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us. Deeply committed Catholics are the last people the authorities should be concerned about. Yes committed traditional Catholics will defend the unborn and others who are helpless but attacks of violent aggression are antithetical to what it means to be a radically committed traditional Catholic. Let us pray for all in positions of authority and especially those in law enforcement.
Catholic Family News Editor-in-Chief Brian McCall shared with LifeSite the following statement:
The release by a courageous whistleblower of this internal FBI memorandum confirms the dystopian state of the country in which we sadly live.
This memo, combined with the targeting and persecution of those working to protect the lives of unborn children, proves beyond any doubt the evil people who control the levers of power in the US government are using that power to persecute any who dissent from their godless ideology.
The FBI is spying on and infiltrating traditional Roman Catholic groups and even parishes for simply exercising their First Amendment Rights. The absurdity of the outrageous allegations of the FBI memo are blatant.
Although the author acknowledges that white supremacists are and have always been violently anti-Catholic (the KKK burn crosses specifically to show their hostility to Catholics),the author believes these white supremacist groups are now deeply attracted to strongly Catholic parishes and groups that they despise.
Traditional Catholicism has never had anything to do with racial bigotry or hatred. In fact the White Supremacist groups that have been active throughout US history (such as the Know Nothing Party) have targeted Catholics because Catholics have always sought the salvation and improvement in this world of the lot of those races and ethnicities despised by the white Protestant elitists.
Ironically every traditional Latin Mass parish I have ever attended is more ethnically diverse than liberal Catholic parishes that segregate attendees by linguistic, and hence ethnic, lines (i.e., Spanish Masses, Vietnamese Masses, etc.).
Traditional Catholics seek the conversion of everyone regardless of race, color, ethnicity, or any other attribute, to the Kingship of Christ. They seek to bring the love of Christ and His Church to all races and ethnicities.
The memo’s prominent reliance on the utterly discredited and bigoted Southern Poverty Law Center, which is not a law center at all but merely a radical political leftist front, further discredits this memo and its author.
The Department of Justice in its continued persecution of pro-life advocates and now simple Traditional Catholics should be renamed from its Orwellian title to the more accurate Department of Injustice.
LifeSite will provide additional reactions to this report when they become available.