First, the facts.
Steve Bannon sat down with Charlie Rose for an interview that will air this Sunday on “60 Minutes.” Naturally, the subject of DACA came up. And Bannon has some strong opinions about it, particularly as it pertains to the role of the Catholic Church when it comes to illegal immigration.
Let’s let Bannon’s words speak for themselves.
WATCH: Bannon tells Charlie Rose that the reason the Catholic Church is pro-DACA is that they need "illegal aliens" to fill the churches. pic.twitter.com/0hlTOyz8ri
— Yashar Ali ? (@yashar) September 7, 2017
STEVE BANNON: Look what he did on DACA the other day. OK, 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. And he said even last night in a Tweet– even in a Tweet, he would rethink it. Trust me, the guys in the far right, the guys on the conservative side are not happy with this.
CHARLIE ROSE: I remind you, a good Catholic, that Cardinal Dolan is opposed to what’s happened with DACA. Cardinal Dolan.
STEVE BANNON: The Catholic Church has been terrible about this.
CHARLIE ROSE: OK.
STEVE BANNON: The bishops have been terrible about this. By the way, you know why? You know why? Because unable to really– to– to– to 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. That’s what– the entire Catholic Bishops condemn him.
CHARLIE ROSE: They?
STEVE BANNON: They have– they have an economic interest. They have an economic interest in unlimited immigration, unlimited illegal immigration. And as much as–
CHARLIE ROSE: –that’s a tough thing to say about your church.
STEVE BANNON: As much as I respect Cardinal Dolan and the Bishops on doctrine, this is not doctrine. This is not doctrine at all.
CHARLIE ROSE: Let me talk–
STEVE BANNON: I– I totally respect the Pope and I totally respect the Catholic Bishops and cardinals on doctrine. 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.
Okay, now here’s my take on the matter as a practicing Catholic living in an area with a high concentration of immigrants, both legal and otherwise.
Bannon is right in some respects. Of course the Catholic Church benefits when large numbers of illegals, particularly Hispanics, come to our country. They do fill the pews of our churches, but I’m loath to say there’s a great financial benefit to the Church.
When we gather together at Mass, legal status doesn’t, and shouldn’t, matter.
The problem is when we’re outside of Mass. Sarah Huckabee Sanders made a great point at her first post-DACA White House briefing when she said, to paraphrase, illegals come to America because it’s brimming with opportunity, but those opportunities wouldn’t exist if we were not a nation of laws.
Even the Catholic Church agrees with that. Their take, as espoused in the Catholic Catechism:
The first duty is to welcome the foreigner out of charity and respect for the human person.
And we do that in spades. If anyone doubts that America is generous, just look at the response to Hurricane Harvey. Race, gender, nationality, religion – none of that matters. When the sh!t hits the fan, we are there for one another.
The second duty is to secure one’s border and enforce the law for the sake of the common good. Sovereign nations have the right to enforce their laws and all persons must respect the legitimate exercise of this right.
It’s here that I should point out that priests are not infallible. When Cardinal Dolan offers his opinion on DACA, it is just his opinion. He may be a leader of the Church and I’m sure he has a good heart, but you can’t take one part of the Church doctrine and ignore the other.
This is a complicated issue for Catholics, and Bannon’s appearance on “60 Minutes” is sure to strike up many a conversation about how to resolve matters like DACA.