‘It’s Appalling’: Attorney General Merrick Garland Disavows Memo Targeting Catholics

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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Attorney General Merrick Garland disavowed an FBI memo targeting traditionalist Catholics during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday.

The bureau’s Richmond field office published a memo in late January asserting that Catholic who reject the Second Vatican Council can be prone to “anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ and white supremacist ideology.” The memo, released by former FBI agent Kyle Seraphin, quotes extensively from the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center. In retracting the memo, the FBI said that the document did not meet its “exacting standards” and would conduct an internal review.

“It’s appalling,” Garland told Republican Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley. The FBI “does not do investigations based on religion.”


“How did it happen?” Hawley asked. (RELATED: Has The FBI Arrested Any Suspects In 150 Attacks On Pro-Life Groups And Churches?)

“That’s what they’re looking into, but I’m totally in agreement with you. That document is appalling,” Garland responded. “This is an inappropriate memorandum and it doesn’t reflect the methods that the FBI is supposed to be using. It should not be relying on any single organization without doing its own work.”

Timothy Cardinal Dolan, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty blasted the document as “religious profiling” in a statement, while also criticizing racism and threats of violence. House Judiciary Committee chairman Jim Jordan of Ohio issued request to FBI Director Christopher Wray for documents about the incident.

“Let me just ask you as my time expires, a very direct question. How many informants do you have in Catholic churches across America?” Hawley asked.

“I don’t know, and I don’t believe we have any informants aimed at Catholic churches. We have a rule against investigations based on First Amendment activity and Catholic churches are obviously First Amendment, but I don’t know the specific answer,” Garland answered.