Steve Bannon gets his street fight

Posted By: September 13, 2017

Irish Echo News.Ray Wanton. September 13, 2017

Steve Bannon

Steve Bannon describes himself as a political street fighter. He’s in one now. And it’s his kind – an Irish one.

His opponents: Cardinal Tim­othy Dolan, the Ancient Order of Hibernians and Fr. Sean Mc- Manus.

The Trump administration’s decision to wind down the De­ferred Action for Childhood Ar­rivals program has resulted in a political firestorm.

But that firestorm is being eclipsed by the hellfire un­leashed by former Trump advi­sor Bannon who has accused the Catholic Church of only

Fr. Sean Mc Manus  

Cardinal Timothy Dolan

being interested in undocu­mented and illegal immigrants – the DACA “Dreamers” in­cluded – because they fill pews in churches and help the church’s finances.

And in an interview aired last Sunday on CBS, “60 Minutes” Bannon took a particular swipe at the Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who protested the administration’s DACA decision as being con­trary to the spirit of the Bible and the country.

Bannon is an Irish American Catholic.

Cardinal Dolan, of course, matches that same description.

And into this Catholic Irish American standoff now comes the Ancient Order of Hiberni­ans and Fr. Sean McManus of the Irish National Caucus who has penned as “open letter” to Bannon in which the Fer­managh-born Redemptorist priest describes Bannon’s charge against the church as being “crass and vicious.”

Bannon, who has returned to the Breitbart online news outlet since his departure from the White House, said in the 60 Minutes interview that the church needed illegal aliens “to fill the churches.”

“They have an economic in­terest in unlimited immigra­tion, unlimited illegal immigration,” he said in refer­ence to the nation’s Catholic bishops.

And in the interview, he took aim at one church leader in par­ticular, Cardinal Dolan.

Bannon said that he was not getting into an argument over doctrine, but rather was talking about the sovereignty of the na­tion.

Cardinal Dolan, who is gen­erally seen as being a political conservative, came out swing­ing.

In an op-ed posted in the up­front news pages of the Daily News, he took issue with Ban­non.

A companion news report had the Archbishop describing Bannon’s assertions as “ridicu­lous” and “insulting.”

In the op-ed, billed by the News as an exclusive, Cardinal Dolan wrote that “welcoming the stranger” was an intrinsic part of “who we are as people of faith.”

And he continued in part: “Yes, countries have both a right and a duty to see to it that there are secure borders and sensible immigration policy.

“With Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, we’re deal­ing with people who arrived here as children, and are now our neighbors, coworkers, fel­low parishioners, and friends.

“This is their home. They salute our flag and love our country.”

Dolan opined that Congress must now act to make certain that the Dreamers have an op­portunity to demonstrate that they want and deserve the chance to become full citizens in the land that they love.

“This is why I will continue to stand up for the Dreamers and advocate for a fair, measured, American immigration policy. My only motive in this is that I believe in the Bible and in America,” Dolan concluded.

While the cardinal was firm in his position, he was also re­strained in his response to Ban­non.

Not so restrained was Fr. Mc­Manus who quickly took the gloves off, at least after the “Dear Steve” opening to his open letter.

McManus stated in part: “I’ve been wondering if you were any relation to Fr. Bannon (1829-1913) the “Confederate Chaplain,” who was born in County Leitrim, Ireland

“Your last name and politics might indicate a close relationship.

“However, I now doubt it, because at least Fr. Bannon would not have been anti-Catholic, something which you have, almost stereotypical^, declared yourself to be. (And, yes, Catholics can be anti-Catholic).

“Your crass and vicious charge al­leges that the Catholic bishops are supporting immigrants out of ‘eco­nomic interest and because ‘they need illegal aliens to fill the churches.’

“In other words, the Catholic Bishops are using one of Jesus Christ’s most sacred commands, ‘Do this in memory of me’ not in fidelity to the Gospel but to make money (from the poorest peo­ple in the country?)

“No Anti-Catholic outburst could possibly be more offensive to lay Catholics, priests, and Bishops.”

The Washington D.C.-based presi­dent of the Irish National Caucus con­tinued: “It is also one of the oldest anti-Catholic tropes in America – and in England, with its historic anti-Catholic oppression in Ireland, and since 1920 in ‘Northern Ireland’

“So, Steve, get ready to be inducted into the Orange Order, the anti- Catholic, secret-oath-bound, organiza­tion in Northern Ireland.

“You would find it a congenial home: it is almost seen as respectable – like how the White Citizens Council in Al­abama and Mississippi were a bit more respectable than the KKK.

“Also, of course, to charge that The Mass/The Eucharist is all about mak­ing money is like the Nazis’ accusation that the Jews were sucking money out of Germany, which brings us back to another historical foundation: the his­toric targets of the KKK are Catholics,

Blacks and Jews.

‘Well, this Fermanagh-born Irish­man takes his stand with Catholics, Blacks, and Jews against the KKK. As Martin Luther himself said in 1521, ‘Here I stand, I can no other.'”

The AOH was also taking its stand.

After viewing the 60 Minutes inter­view, the order’s National Anti- Defamation Chairman, Neil Cosgrove, released a statement.

It read in part “The Ancient Order of Hibernians, the oldest Irish American Catholic Organization in America, was formed in 1835 to protect recently ar­rived Irish Catholic immigrants and to defend the Catholic Church from vi­cious attacks by nativists groups such as the “Know Nothings.”

“We are therefore both saddened and disappointed that in 21st century America we still hear echoes of the tropes that fueled those attacks.”

Referring to the 60 Minutes inter­view, Mr. Cosgrove said that Mr. Bannon’s stating “they need illegal aliens to fill the churches. That’s – is obvious on the face of it. They have an eco­nomic interest” was “nothing less than a recycling of the 19th-century anti- Catholic rhetoric of Thomas Nast”

The AOH statement continued: ‘Yes, the Catholic Church has in the past, and continues to this day, to serve immigrants.

“It is highly likely that at one-time Mr. Bannon’s immigrant forebears joined ours and similarly Tilled the churches.’

“Inaccurate generalities such as Mr. Bannon’s comments have fueled and provided justification for the worst ex­cesses of anti-Catholic bigotry.

“It was similar conspiracy theories regarding Catholic Bishops manipu­lating Irish immigrants to their own ends that motivated nativist mobs to bum churches in Philadelphia and convents in Charlestown. As someone who readily claims Irish American her­itage, we are surprised Mr. Bannon is not more cognizant of the prejudicial pedigree of his remarks.

“The fact that U.S. immigration policy is broken is beyond dispute.

“For over fifty years the ‘No Irish Need Apply1 sign has hung on the Golden Door of immigration. DACA is another direct byproduct of decades of U.S. immigration dysfunction.

“The wisdom of now asking young people who have known no other country than this one to retroactively bear the burden of decades of failed policy is certainly debatable.

“The resolution of this issue is com­plex; there are multiple positions, all of which, whether they come from Mr. Bannon or a Catholic Bishop, are wor­thy of thoughtful discussion and hon­est debate in pursuit of a just resolution.

“The ability to engage in open and free discourse is what makes America great. Sadly, at present across the political spectrum, den­igration of those holding opposing viewpoints has replaced discus­sion. We cannot move forward if we dismiss debate by promoting conspiracy theories of ludicrous ulterior motives.”

The statement went to say that later in his interview, Mr. Bannon extolled the virtues of loyalty by stating “when you side with a man, you side with a man.”

The Hibernians countered: “We hope Mr. Bannon will come to an understanding that those senti­ments are as applicable to faith as to politics.”