The FBI’s Richmond field office released an internal memo last month warning against “radical traditionalist Catholic ideology,” and claiming it “almost certainly presents new mitigation opportunities,” according to a document shared by an FBI whistleblower on Wednesday.
Kyle Seraphin, who was a special agent at the bureau for six years before he was indefinitely suspended without pay in June 2022, published the document, “Interest of Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremists in Radical Traditionalist Catholic Ideology Almost Certainly Presents New Mitigation Opportunities,” on UncoverDC.com.
“In making this assessment, FBI Richmond relied on the key assumption that [racially or ethnically motivated extremists] will continue to find [radical-traditionalist Catholic or RTC] ideology attractive and will continue to attempt to connect with RTC adherents, both virtually via social media and in-person at places of worship,” the document from January 23 states.
It adds that “RTCs are typically categorized by the rejection of the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II) as a valid church council; disdain for most of the popes elected since Vatican II, particularly Pope Francis and Pope John Paul II; and frequent adherence to anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ, and white supremacist ideology. Radical-traditionalist Catholics compose a small minority of overall Roman Catholic adherents and are separate and distinct from ‘traditionalist Catholics’ who prefer the Traditional Latin Mass and pre-Vatican II teachings and traditions, without the more extremist ideological beliefs and violent rhetoric.”
National Review has reached out to the FBI National Press Office and the FBI field office in Richmond for comment.
The report relied upon information from the Southern Poverty Law Center, a legal-advocacy organization that has come under fire for including conservative nonprofits like the Alliance Defending Freedom and the American College of Pediatricians on its list of “hate groups” alongside groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the Nation of Islam.
The document notes the SPLC has identified nine “RTC hate groups” operating in the U.S. as of 2021.
“We got briefings that SPLC was not legitimate when I was at Quantico,” Seraphin told the Daily Signal.
Seraphin told the outlet a “a real intelligence product would quote [SPLC] and say, ‘unsubstantiated.’” He added that if a document were to cite Salon, as the leaked document does, it would need to cite a separate “source on the other side.”
George Hill, a former supervisory intelligence analyst for the bureau, told the Daily Signal the report is “poorly sourced from sources who use unsubstantiated data to draw their own conclusions and not in compliance with FBI publication guidelines.”
“They would have had to either change the guidelines since I left that you can now use the SPLC or the author and their supervisor who approved the final document knowingly violated the Directorate of Intelligence guidelines,” Hill added, explaining that the directorate previously excluded the SPLC from reports because “there was no analytical rigor or basis for the majority of their assertions that they would write about on their website.”