‘Outrageous and insulting’ – US bishops reject Bannon’s immigration remarks

Washington D.C., Sep 7, 2017 / 04:22 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The U.S. bishops’ conference on Thursday sharply rejected claims by former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon that the bishops support undocumented immigrants in order to fill churches and make money.

“It is preposterous to claim that justice for immigrants isn’t central to Catholic teaching. It comes directly from Jesus Himself in Matthew 25, ‘For I was hungry and you gave me food…a stranger and you welcomed me,’” said James Rogers, chief communications officer for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“Immigrants and refugees are precisely the strangers we must welcome,” he said in a statement Thursday.

Bannon, who was the White House chief strategist before leaving the Trump administration on Aug. 18, told CBS News’ “60 Minutes” host Charlie Rose, in an interview set to air on Sunday evening, that he thought the U.S. bishops support illegal immigration because of a cynical “economic interest.”

When asked by Rose about the Trump administration’s announcement that they would be phasing out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA), Bannon defended the decision. Rose pressed Bannon on it, noting that he is a Catholic and that Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York – among other Church leaders – opposed the administration’s ending of the program.

“The Catholic Church has been terrible about this,” Bannon said, in comments reported on CBSNews.com on Thursday morning.

The bishops, he said, “need illegal aliens to fill the churches” and “have an economic interest in unlimited immigration, unlimited illegal immigration.”

He added that, on immigration, “this is not about doctrine. This is about the sovereignty of a nation.”

Rogers, speaking for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said on Thursday afternoon that Bannon’s claim of the bishops having an “economic interest” in “unlimited illegal immigration” was “outrageous and insulting.”

“The Bible is clear: welcoming immigrants is indispensable to our faith,” Rogers said.

And the bishops advocating on behalf of those who will be affected by the end of DACA, he said, “is nothing more than trying to carry out that seemingly simple, but ultimately incredibly demanding, commandment.”

DACA was a program begun by the Obama administration in 2012. Eligible immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children, by their parents, and who did not have a criminal record, could participate in the program.

Beneficiaries of DACA could receive a stay of deportation for two years. In that time, they could apply for benefits like a work authorization or eligibility for Social Security, and could work to extend their stay in the U.S. Among other requirements, beneficiaries, or “Dreamers,” had to have lived in the U.S. for five years and been brought by their parents to the U.S. before the age of 16.

The Trump administration announced on Tuesday that it would be ending the program in six months, and phasing it out in the meantime. An estimated 800,000 persons were benefitting from DACA.

In a statement on Tuesday, leading U.S. bishops called the planned termination of DACA “reprehensible.”

“These youth entered the U.S. as minors and often know America as their only home,” the bishops’ statement read. “Now, after months of anxiety and fear about their futures, these brave young people face deportation. This decision is unacceptable and does not reflect who we are as Americans.”

In comments reported on Thursday, Bannon said that rhetoric manifested a desire by the bishops to promote illegal immigration to deal “with the problems in the church.”

However, the bishops’ advocacy for immigrants is at the heart of the faith, and is connected to other vital issues, Rogers said.

“The witness of the Catholic bishops on issues from pro-life to pro-marriage to pro-health care to pro-immigration reforms is rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ rather than the convenient political trends of the day,” he said.

“We are called not to politics or partisanship, but to love our neighbor.”

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  1. The outrageous Steve Bannon incurred the outrage of the US Bishops Conference. Which outrage is correct? My take is both. Bannon is against any compromise on DACA and kids born here and culturally integrated. A merciless ideologue. Whereas the Church has a vested interest in the downtrodden, less fortunate. Also in filling pews and coffers. My take on the US Bishops Conference is that it has largely assumed the secular humanist role of the Pontiff and far more concerned with illegal immigration as a right, global warming, social justice based on indiscriminate equanimity. And virtually nothing on personal holiness, respect for the Eucharist, Confession, Homosexuality [in fact that is virtually endorsed by Cardinal Cupich and other Hierarchy]and liturgical integrity. All the elements that make for a vibrant Church. Which is why pews are empty.

    • I find myself thinking of, for example, the artwork looted by Nazis and various other people during World War II. Nobody is saying, “Well, your father or grandfather was the one who stole that, not you, and since you were not responsible for the crime why should you be deprived of the fruits of that crime?”

      So why is the argument being made that “Well, you parents were the ones who stole into this country, and since you were not responsible for the crime why should you be deprived of the fruits of that crime?”

      There are downtrodden, less fortunate U.S. citizens whose situation is worsened by illegal immigrants. Should not the bishops be thinking of them, too?

      And what about all of the would-be legal immigrants whose situation is worsened by illegal immigration. No concern for them?

      I agree with you about the US Bishops Conference. In spades.

    • Bannon is merely speaking the truth, in that the USCCB has peen unwilling to take a balanced stand on things. Catholic positions are almost always well balanced. I found their quotations from scripture near laughable. Quoting sections having to do with “welcoming the stranger” are far from “letting the ILLEGAL stranger who has BROKEN THE LAW and is SQUATTING in your house and claiming a right to stay there, then wants to change your culture and tell you what to do”. The DACA thing is just a hook. First you let the kids in, then the sob stories start about how it is cruel to separate families, so you have to let the whole family in.

    • Amen Father. They are so quick to decry a public Catholic’s representation of the faith here, but in the majority of other, some would argue more important issues, they are always silent.

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