Posted on February 13, 2023

FBI Retracts Leaked Document Orchestrating Investigation of Catholics

Tyler Arnold and Joe Bukuras, Catholic News Agency, February 9, 2023

The FBI says it is retracting a leaked document published on the internet Feb. 8 that appears to reveal that the bureau’s Richmond division launched an investigation into “radical traditionalist” Catholics and their possible ties to “the far-right white nationalist movement.”

In response to an inquiry from CNA, the FBI said it will remove the document because “it does not meet our exacting standards.”

The document, which was published on the website UncoverDC and is titled “Interest of Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremists in Radical-Traditionalist Catholic Ideology Almost Certainly Presents New Mitigation Opportunities,” the document singles out Catholics who are interested in the Traditional Latin Mass as potentially linked to violent extremist groups.

Kyle Seraphin, who is listed by UncoverDC as the author of the document, told CNA that he received the leaked document from an FBI agent. Seraphin himself is a former FBI special agent who was reportedly suspended last year. {snip}

The FBI’s national press office confirmed to CNA that the document came from the Richmond office but stated that it will “remove the document from FBI systems” because it does not meet the “exacting standards of the FBI.”


Marked “UNCLASSIFIED/FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY,” the document includes a list of organizations with Catholic ties that are listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) list of hate groups.


The document, dated Jan. 23, claims that racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists will likely become more interested in “radical-traditionalist Catholic ideology” within the next 12 to 24 months “in the run-up to the next general election cycle.”

It points to potential “policy issues of mutual interest” between “radical-traditional” Catholics and violent extremists such as “abortion rights, immigration, affirmative action, and LGBTQ protections.”

The document further claims that violent extremists have “sought out and attended traditionalist Catholic houses of worship,” which “presents new opportunities for threat mitigation” through “trip wire or source development” within churches that offer the Latin Mass and “radical-traditionalist” Catholic online communities.


However, the document claims that “much of the interaction … takes place online” and they share certain language and symbolism, such as “crusader references and anti-Semitic discourse.”

In the document, the FBI division states that it “makes this assessment with high confidence” and bases its findings on FBI investigations, local law enforcement reports, liaison reports, and “varying degrees of corroboration and access.”

It states that the FBI would revise its judgment based on whether there is an increase or decrease of violent extremist subjects “attending traditionalist Catholic places of worship,” social media activity, or “radical-traditionalist” Catholic personalities or institutions distancing themselves from violent extremists.

Document notes claim that it defines radical-traditionalist Catholic ideology as a “rejection of the Second Vatican Council,” a “disdain for popes elected since Vatican II” and “frequent adherence to anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ, and white supremacist ideology.”