The top US law enforcement has disavowed a report by one of its field offices linking the religion to violent extremism
An FBI intelligence report suggesting that “radical-traditionalist Catholics” should be targeted as potentially violent, white-supremacist extremists has reportedly been disavowed by the agency, which said it’s investigating how the controversial memo came about.
The report “does not meet the exacting standards of the FBI,” the agency told Fox News and other media outlets in a statement. “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 FBI, which doesn’t normally comment on internal intelligence reports, addressed the memo on Roman Catholics after a whistleblower published it this week, prompting public outcry. The report was dated January 23 and originated with an intelligence analyst in the bureau’s Richmond, Virginia, field office.
FBI agent Kyle Seraphin, the whistleblower, said the bureau apparently believes that white supremacy “has found a home” among Catholics who prefer the Latin mass. He argued that the targeting of Catholics will lead to similar campaigns against other Christian denominations, violating an FBI principle that prohibits opening cases or issuing reports based on constitutionally protected activities.
“They are crossing a line many Americans will find themselves on the wrong side of for the first time in history,” Seraphin said. “This is what a politicalized FBI looks like.”
Sources cited in the intelligence report included the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a discredited advocacy group that has labeled numerous Christian and anti-abortion organizations as “hate groups,” and an Atlantic magazine article that claimed rosary beads had become an “extremist symbol.” The SPLC alleged that traditionalist Catholics were “the largest single group of serious antisemites in America.” The FBI memo advised the bureau to infiltrate Catholic groups, which it claimed were at risk of being used by white supremacists to promote violence.
The controversy comes just as congressional Republicans prepare to investigate the “weaponization” of the federal government against Christians and anti-abortion activists. Conservatives raised the issue after the FBI arrested dozens of anti-abortion advocates and allegedly made little effort to investigate the nearly 100 attacks against pregnancy resources centers and churches in the US last year.
The intelligence report called for “outreach” to traditionalist Catholic churches to mitigate the extremism threat. “This document seems to be opening a door so that the leftist intel types can vent their dissatisfaction with the Catholic Church – but eventually all Christians – fighting abortion,” Seraphin said.