Steve Bannon: The Catholic Church 'needs illegal aliens' to fill its pews

Dylan Stableford
Senior Editor

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon says it’s “obvious” why top members of the Catholic Church would be opposed to President Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

“They need illegal aliens to fill the churches,” Bannon said in an interview with Charlie Rose set to air on CBS’s “60 Minutes” on Sunday. “The Catholic Church has been terrible about this.”

Bannon, who left President Trump’s administration last month, said he doesn’t agree with Trump’s move to allow Congress six months to extend or replace DACA, an Obama-era policy that provided work permits to about 800,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as young children.

“I don’t agree with that DACA decision, but I understand how he struggled with it, I understand how he’s giving the possibility of a legislative thing,” Bannon said. “Trust me, the guys in the far right, the guys on the conservative side, are not happy with this.”

Bannon, the controversial head of the far-right website Breitbart, joined the Trump campaign as chief executive last summer and is credited with helping craft many of Trump’s nationalist and anti-immigration policies, including his controversial executive order temporarily banning immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

It’s not surprising that Bannon, a right-wing Catholic and provocateur, would take on the more liberal Catholic Church, especially under the direction of relatively political figures like Pope Francis in Rome and Cardinal Timothy Dolan in the United States.

In 2014, Bannon traveled to Rome to cover the canonization of John Paul II. While there, he met with Raymond Burke, an archconservative American cardinal, who according to the New York Times shares Bannon’s “suspicion of Pope Francis as a dangerously misguided, and probably socialist, pontiff.”

“Can I remind you, a good Catholic, that Cardinal Dolan is opposed to what’s happened with DACA?” Rose asked Bannon.

“The bishops have been terrible about this,” Bannon said. “They have an economic interest, they have an economic interest in unlimited immigration, unlimited illegal immigration. And as much as much as I respect Cardinal Dolan and the bishops on doctrine, this is not doctrine. This is not doctrine at all.

“I totally respect the pope and I totally respect the Catholic bishops and cardinals on doctrine,” Bannon added. “This is not about doctrine. This is about the sovereignty of a nation. And in that regard, they’re just another guy with an opinion.”

Bannon told Rose he views himself as a loyal “street fighter” who is “determined to make sure Trump’s enemies know that there’s no free shot on goal.”

“I think that’s why Donald Trump and I get along so well,” Bannon said.

During the interview, Bannon also defended Trump’s initial response to the violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., last month. He said he backed the president even when White House officials were balking at Trump’s decision to not specifically condemn the white nationalist organizers of the rally, which left one counterprotester dead.

“When you side with a man, you side with him,” Bannon said. “I was proud to come out and try to defend President Trump in the media that day.”

Bannon criticized Trump’s chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn, who publicly expressed his dismay over Trump’s response to Charlottesville.

“You can tell [Trump], ‘Hey, maybe you can do it a better way.’ But if you’re going to break, then resign. If you’re going to break with him, resign,” Bannon said.

“So Gary Cohn should have resigned?” Rose asked.

“Absolutely,” Bannon replied.

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