FBI Backtracks After Getting Caught Targeting Latin Mass Catholics

The FBI withdrew a memo targeting Latin Mass Catholics as extremists after former FBI staffer turned whistleblower Kyle Seraphin published the eight-page memo on Wednesday.

The document showed the agency planned to focus on “mitigation” of “Radical Traditionalist Catholics” over the next 24 months due to concerns that “white nationalists” were making common cause online with Latin Mass attendees.

The memo was written by an FBI analyst in Richmond, Virginia for internal use only on January 23. Seraphin said he obtained the memo from an anonymous Baptist employee for the agency.

The memo relied heavily on the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) for its suspicions of Traditional Catholics, despite the SPLC having long been rejected as a legitimate source for the FBI, according to Seraphin.

According to LifeSite News, the memo showed “an above average understanding of the various pro-Latin Mass communities in the church”—an indication that people familiar with these communities had been in touch with intelligence agents. The memo even expressed optimism for “new opportunities for threat mitigation through the exploration of new avenues for tripwire and source development.”

The memo claimed that its real motivation was a concern that “Radical Traditionalist Catholic Ideology” posed an “anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBT, and white supremacy” outlook, which would present a threat to the US’s domestic well-being.

It also claimed that adherents to Traditional Catholic ideology “frequently share language and symbolism, such as crusader references or anti-Semitic discourses” online that pro-life white nationalists also support.”

Catholic Family News Editor-in-Chief Brian McCall told LifeSite News: ”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.”

That the nation’s top law enforcement agency would take sides in controversial doctrinal, ideological, and moral issues and categorize opposing outlooks as a threat to the nation naturally concerns taxpayers who hold opposing outlooks on these issues.

“Sadly, the experience of Mark Houck provides evidence that this type of surveillance is not beyond the realm of possibility,” Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas told LifeSite News.

Houck is a recently-acquitted Catholic pro-life activist. The FBI arrested him in September at gunpoint in front of his children for pushing a pro-choice activist who antagonized his son. The Department of Justice sought to convict Houck under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.

When The Daily Signal reporter Tyler O’Neil contacted the FBI for comment on the memo, the agency emailed him the following, which he posted to his Twitter account:

“While our standard practice is not to comment on specific intelligence products, this particular field office product … 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.”

Seraphin responded on Twitter to the FBI’s disavowal:

“The @FBI doesn’t confirm information, but they confirmed this. Because they were called out. Not because they would NEVER approve it. They approved it, and are embarrassed. This is the only way.”

House Republicans on the Judiciary Committee released a report in November that summarized allegations by whistleblowers of politicization of the Justice Department and FBI. In the report, whistleblowers claimed the FBI abuses law enforcement for political purposes and that the agency’s leadership shows “a bias against conservatives.”

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan told Fox News in January that his committee is working with whistleblowers in the FBI but raised the possibility of retaliation by the Justice Department. “We think many of them are in fact going to be willing to sit for a deposition and be willing to testify in a public hearing,” he added.

This news and commentary by Jacob Grandstaff originally appeared on Valiant News.

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