WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeSiteNews) — U.S. House Judiciary Committee chairman Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, together with Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana, are demanding answers from the head of the FBI in relation to the agency’s leaked “anti-Catholic memo” that directed federal surveillance of so-called “radical-traditionalist Catholics.”
Last week, former FBI agent turned whistleblower Kyle Seraphin released an eight-page internal document sent January 23, indicating the FBI in Richmond, Virginia planned to conduct surveillance to intercept “racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists” who have allegedly found common ground with “radical-traditionalist Catholic (RTC) ideology,” LifeSiteNews reported.
The FBI backpedaled on the memo the day after the leak, saying the document had failed to meet its “exacting standards.”
Regardless of the retraction, the memo has sparked extensive backlash, earning the condemnation of Bishop Barry Knestout of Richmond, Virginia, Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, the editors of two Catholic news outlets named in the memo, namely The Remnant’s Michael Matt and Catholic Family News’ Brian McCall, and the attorneys general of 19 states.
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.”
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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.
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
READ: Virginia AG leads 19 states in demanding FBI come clean about ‘anti-Catholic’ memo, church spying
In a February 16 letter addressed to FBI Director Christopher Wray, Republican Reps. Jordan and Johnson said the federal agency must respond to the since-retracted memo, which they called a “serious misuse of federal law enforcement resources.”
Hat tip to @KyleSeraphin for bringing this matter to light.
— House Judiciary GOP (@JudiciaryGOP) February 16, 2023
The congressmen pointed out that the FBI had relied on anti-Catholic reports from groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Salon, and The Atlantic, and had differentiated between certain types of Catholics deemed to be more or less problematic based on their alleged beliefs.
Specifically, agency made a distinction between what it called a “small minority” of “radical-traditionalist Catholics” who might hold “anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBT, and white supremacy” views in common with alleged white supremacist extremists, compared with other so-called “traditionalist Catholics” who the FBI said “prefer the Latin Mass and pre-Vatican II teachings and traditions, but without the more extremist ideological beliefs and violent rhetoric.”
The FBI also named specific political issues (immigration and abortion) “that it believed would catalyz[e]’ RTC adherents,” the congressmen pointed out. Moreover, beyond “attempting to separate and categorize Catholic Americans based on theological distinctions, the FBI underscored the political nature of its actions” by arguing in the memo that the alleged threat could grow “in the run-up to the next general election cycle,” Jordan and Johnson said.
READ: FBI whistleblower releases docs showing agency is surveilling ‘Radical’ Latin Mass Catholics
While the FBI has retracted the memo “and blamed the local level field office for its creation and dissemination,” Jordan and Johnson are calling on the FBI to “come clean about “the genesis, review, and approval of this document,” and reaffirm its “commitment to upholding First Amendment protected activity.”
Accordingly, the congressmen have requested that the FBI provide them with any documents pertaining to the alleged ties between certain Catholics and “racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists” dating from January 20, 2021, to the present.
The agency is also asked to provide any materials that provided a “basis” for the memo, and a “list of the FBI investigations, local law enforcement agency reporting, and liaison reporting” upon which the Richmond FBI “relied” to make their “assessments” in the leaked memo.
Jordan and Johnson also want a “list of all FBI employees involved in drafting, reviewing, approving, or disseminating” the document.
The FBI is requested to provide the materials no later than 5 p.m. March 2, 2023.
The congressmen also took the opportunity to advise the federal law enforcement agency “that whistleblower disclosures are protected by law and that we will not tolerate any effort to retaliate against whistleblowers for their disclosures.”
The FBI has faced increased scrutiny from conservatives after a wave of law enforcement activity seemingly targeting the ideological adversaries of the far-left Biden administration.
In August, the FBI carried out an unprecedented raid on the Florida home of former President Donald Trump. In September, dozens of heavily armed FBI agents arrested pro-life sidewalk counselor and Catholic father of seven Mark Houck at his home in front of his family. Shortly thereafter, FBI agents arrested another pro-life activist, Catholic father of 11 Paul Vaughn.
Also in September, the FBI reportedly served search warrants or subpoenas against dozens of Trump allies. Meanwhile, the Biden administration’s DOJ indicted pro-life Catholic priest Fr. Fidelis Moscinski on federal charges and hit 11 pro-life activists, including an 87-year-old survivor of a communist concentration camp, with federal charges for a peaceful protest at a Nashville, Tennessee abortion facility.
Last month, the newly minted GOP majority in the U.S. House of Representatives resolved to create a “Weaponization of Government” Select Committee to investigate alleged instances of FBI and other federal intelligence agencies’ meddling in domestic politics, LifeSiteNews previously reported.