Steve Bannon: Laity Must Act on Abuse Crisis

Political strategist says in interview, ‘It’s not all behind us, and it’s got to be addressed’

DETROIT ( – Steve Bannon says he thinks the sex abuse scandals are far from finished for the Catholic Church. In a telephone interview with Edward Pentin on June 4, Bannon commented on the Catholic clerical sex abuse scandals: 

I don’t even think we’ve even started the process. I think you’ll see a lot more [abuse cases] in Latin America, I think in Cuba, I think in sub-Saharan Africa, and in south Asia, and Europe. I think we’re at the very beginning of addressing this crisis in the Church on the pedophilia crisis. I don’t believe the spin that it’s all behind us. It’s not all behind us, and it’s got to be addressed, and it has got to be addressed now. I just think it’s a tragedy; but it’s a bigger tragedy if you just don’t do anything about it.

A survey from Pew Research Center, published June 11, found that most American adults agree with Bannon’s assessment that the abuse scandals are “not all behind us.”  Seventy-nine percent of respondents said that reports on sexual abuse and misconduct by Catholic clergy represent an ongoing problem. Only 12% believed that Catholic clerical sex abuse was primarily a problem of the past. I don’t believe the spin that it’s all behind us. It’s not all behind us, and it’s got to be addressed, and it has got to be addressed now. Tweet Bannon, formerly the White House chief strategist for President Donald Trump, argued that faithful laity can take action by keeping their donation money from going to the diocese and the Vatican.

“First off, number one, I think you’ve got to cut off the money,” Bannon remarked. “The donors have to cut off. If they won’t listen, if you don’t have these committees that are trying to engage, then they will listen to one thing, and that is if you cut off the money.” He went on to say, “That means you directly give to the building or whatever is in your parish to make sure that your parish continues to thrive, but you cut off any giving that would go to a diocese and back to Rome.” “The laity has tremendous leverage in this situation,” Bannon added. “The number one leverage the guy in the pew has is stop giving money. As soon as you cut off the cash, you will force them to listen.”

In the wake of last year’s “Summer of Shame,” many in the laity gave tips to fellow Catholics on how to stop giving donation money to the diocese while still fulfilling their obligation to their parish. During the June 4 phone interview, Pentin asked Bannon about the crisis in the Church in general. “The Church has an existential crisis, right now, of trust,” Bannon opined. He claimed that Pope Francis “has abjectly failed to deal with the administrative and financial problems of the Church. To be brutally direct, his current inaccurate statements on the McCarrick situation, his inaccurate statements about Chile, call into question his veracity.”

The Pope caught flak last year for defending Chilean bishop Juan Barros, accused of covering up a fellow priest’s sexual abuse of underage boys in the 1980s. After intense international backlash, Francis issued a public apology, admitting he “made serious mistakes” in handling the cover-up allegations against Bp. Barros. In an interview last month, the Pope claimed he “knew nothing” about Theodore McCarrick — the infamous ex-cardinal, now laicized, who allegedly has a long history of perpetrating homosexual abuse. But whistleblower Abp. Carlo Maria Viganò claimed the Pope was being dishonest, telling LifeSite, “What the Pope said about not knowing anything is a lie.”

Archbishop Viganò again accused Pope Francis of lying in a recently published written interview with The Washington Post. The archbishop told the Post, “We are in a truly dark moment for the universal Church: The Supreme Pontiff is now blatantly lying to the whole world to cover up his wicked deeds!” Once a papal nuncio to the United States, Abp. Viganò went into hiding in August 2018 after he put out a damning testimony which alleged Francis removed disciplines that Pope Benedict XVI had imposed on McCarrick.

In the interview with Pentin, Bannon pointed to Francis’ refusal to answer the dubia, and his non-response to an open letter from theologians accusing him of professing heresy, as additional scandals troubling the current pontificate. “In the history of the Church, you have to go back,” Bannon remarked. “When has any of this happened before?” Bannon also brought up the issue of clerical sex abuse, noting, “You hear that there’s a wave of grand juries that potentially are going to be publishing reports. This is sweeping through the United States, 25 or 30 years after this crisis first took place, with no resolution.”

Throughout the interview, Bannon repeatedly criticized the Vatican’s February meeting on the abuse of minors, calling it “a failure” and “a disaster.” When has any of this happened before? Tweet Bannon complained about Pope Francis’ advocacy for open borders, saying at one point, “He’s essentially siding with the global elites here, not the poor, because he’s not talking about a solution. He continues to talk about open migration. He continues to talk about open borders. He’s essentially driving what would be a situation of anarchy.” He emphasized later, “From the 2016 presidential election to the 2019 European Parliamentary election, what’s most disturbing is that the Pope has thrown in hard with the globalists, the global elite, and the party of Davos.”

When Pentin brought up the China-Vatican accord, Bannon blasted the secretive agreement between the Catholic Church and China’s Communist authorities. “What the Church has done is made a pact with the devil,” Bannon opined. He argued that the deal has caused the Church to lose credibility, saying, “Actually, they’re hurting the Chinese people. The Chinese people hate this deal. The Chinese people, secular people, are saying, ‘What is the Church doing? Why is the Church giving legitimacy to a totalitarian surveillance state?'” Bannon said of those responsible for the accord, “They’ve jeopardized the lives of living saints, the living saints of the underground Catholic Church. They’re putting all religious believers in jeopardy by giving a false cover to a murderous regime.”

Another topic discussed in the interview is the Italian government’s recent attempt to evict Bannon’s Dignitatis Humanae Institute from the Trisulti monastery outside Rome. He told Pentin about the “academy” being set up at the monastery, “I’m going to fight to the death to make sure it happens at Trisulti because it happens to be a perfect place for it; but if we have to be in Rome or anywhere, it’s not going away.”