NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The former chief strategist to President Donald Trump made controversial comments about the Catholic church during an exclusive interview with 60 Minutes.

Steve Bannon said the church, “has been terrible” on immigration issues because it has what he called an “economic interest” in illegal immigration.

Bannon spoke with Charlie Rose in his first interview since leaving the White House.

As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported, Bannon — a hardliner on immigration – shared his view on the Catholic church’s support for immigration reform, and welcome for undocumented immigrants.

“They need illegal aliens, they need illegal aliens to fill the churches. They have an economic interest in unlimited immigration, unlimited illegal immigration,” he said. “As much as I respect Cardinal Dolan and the bishops, this is not about doctrine. This is about the sovereignty of a nation.”

New York’s Cardinal Dolan responded on Sirius XM — The Catholic Channel.

“It’s a preposterous and rather insulting statement that the only reason we bishops care for immigrants is for the economic, because we want to fill our churches and get more money. There’s a moral imperative to treat the immigrant with dignity and respect that we have a sacred duty to preach,” he said.

Bannon is close to the pastor at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in the Bronx.

“Bannon is my good friend, but he is very wrong on this. Many parishes like mind spend more money taking care of immigrant populations than we get from them,” Father Jonathon Morris wrote on Facebook.

Parishioners agreed.

“They don’t have no money! The church helps them! We help them!” Alba Gulla said.

“It’s not for economics, no, it’s more for humanity,” Anthony Angelicchio said.

“I think the church is altruistic, wanting people to come because they want to spread the faith, you know,” Ralph Balancio added.

On Thursday, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops released a statement saying, Catholic teaching on caring for immigrants is rooted in scripture citing; Leviticus in the Hebrew bible, Matthew in the Christian gospel, and said it also honors the American Dream.


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