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Steve Bannon slams church, bishops over immigration

September 14, 2017
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON – Former White House strategist Steve Bannon criticized the Catholic Church and U.S. bishops for their views on immigration, saying “they need illegal aliens to fill the pews.”

In an interview Sept. 10 on the CBS TV program “60 Minutes,” Bannon, a Catholic, told newsman Charlie Rose that the bishops have “an economic interest in illegal immigration.” He also criticized his former boss, President Donald Trump, for taking a step back hours after ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, when the president said on Twitter that he might revisit the decision in six months.

“Trust me, the guys in the far right, the guys on the conservative side are not happy with this,” Bannon said.

Bannon said the U.S bishops have been “terrible” about vhandling immigration because they can’t “come to grips with the problems in the church. They need illegal aliens. They need illegal aliens to fill the churches. That’s – it’s obvious on the face of it.”

Bannon said immigration issues are not part of church doctrine and the bishops need to understand that “this is about the sovereignty of a nation.”

“And in that regard,” he added, “they’re just another guy with an opinion.”

In a Sept. 7 statement responding to Bannon’s interview, James Rogers, chief communications officer for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said it is “preposterous to claim that justice for immigrants isn’t central to Catholic teaching,” noting that the mandate comes directly from the words of Jesus, who spoke of feeding the hungry and welcoming the stranger.

“Immigrants and refugees are precisely the strangers we must welcome,” he added, saying: “This isn’t Catholic partisanship. The Bible is clear: Welcoming immigrants is indispensable to our faith.”

Rogers stressed that for anyone to suggest that the bishops’ recent statements on immigrants are for “financial gain is outrageous and insulting.”

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