CV NEWS FEED // Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) whistleblower Kyle Seraphin published a document from the agency’s Richmond office that ties “radical-traditionalist Catholics” to violent white supremacist movements. The revelation elicited strong condemnations from Catholic leaders across the country.
The document, released Wednesday, includes a list of nine “Radical-Traditionalist Catholic Hate Groups” published by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC), a disgraced left-wing activist group.
“The memo implies that the FBI under the Biden administration has infiltrated Catholic groups and is already spying on their activities,” stated CatholicVote President Brian Burch. “How do they justify this? They cite the SPLC as their primary source in claiming that ‘radical’ Catholics could soon become violent – and thus the FBI should begin a surveillance program on Catholic organizations.”
The SPLC keeps a searchable list of “hate groups” on its website. In 2012, gunman Floyd Lee Corkins II opened fire at the offices of the Family Research Council (FRC) in Washington, DC., and later told law enforcement that he found the group and gained inspiration for the attack through the SPLC’s website.
The leaked FBI memo also cites articles such as two Salon pieces from May 2022 linking Catholics with “White nationalists groypers.” The end notes include The Atlantic’s August 2022 piece, “How Extremist Gun Culture is Trying to Co-Opt the Rosary.”
Dominican priest Fr. Peter Totleben picked up on the Rosary theme:
FBI headquarters rescinded the report after about one day of public outcry, stating: “While our standard practice is to not comment on specific intelligence products, this particular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.”
“As soon as this anti-Catholic memo leaked, the FBI retracted it and started making excuses – even though the memo was created just a few weeks ago on January 23,” said Burch. “I can’t think of a single circumstance in recent memory where this has happened.”
Burch also speculated: “What would have happened if this memo wasn’t leaked?”
Tyler O’Neill of The Daily Signal, who broke the story, expressed approval for the FBI’s swift retraction, but reservations about what the existence of such a document indicates in terms of the internal culture at the FBI:
Peter Wolfgang, executive director of the Family Institute of Connecticut, told CatholicVote that “the FBI’s Richmond office must now be held accountable for surveilling private citizens based on such a flimsy and discredited source. The whistleblowers within the FBI must be protected against retaliation by their corrupt superiors.”
The story broke just one week after the exoneration of pro-life Catholic Mark Houck, who was arrested at gunpoint by the FBI on charges of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act. “This story brings together two intersecting trends: The corruption of our public institutions and the weaponizing of those institutions to single out Catholics for persecution by the federal government,” said Wolfgang:
These are threats we never expected to face in the United States of America. But those threats have been growing for some time. There is a direct trajectory from Barack Obama’s unprecedented attack on religious freedom with his 2012 contraceptive mandate, and the FBI’s 2022 raid on the home of Mark Houck.
“Catholics must demand that the federal government stop targeting us,” Wolfgang continued. “We must demand that the government take action to end the wave of domestic terror that Catholic institutions have suffered ever since the leak of the Dobbs decision.”
“And we must stand in solidarity with all our fellow Catholics who are under attack,” he concluded. “This is much bigger than the obscure groups mentioned in the FBI memo. This is about all of the victims of the U.S. government’s recent anti-Catholicism. We are all Mark Houck.”
Burch called on Catholics to sign a letter to Rep. Jim Jordan, R-OH, Chairman of the new Weaponization of the Federal Government Committee. The letter demands an investigation of the FBI’s “clear pattern of anti-Catholic actions.”
To read the entire letter and sign it, readers can visit the petition page on CatholicVote’s website.