LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Former White House strategist Steve Bannon says the Catholic Church has helped fuel illegal immigration in the U.S. for its own “economic interest.”

In an interview with CBS News’ “60 Minutes,” Bannon criticized President Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program with a pledge to revisit the issue if Congress failed to act.

When host Charlie Rose reminded Bannon – whom he referred to as a “good Catholic” – that Cardinal Tim Dolan and other church leaders were opposed to the DACA move, Bannon said: “The Catholic Church has been terrible about this.”

“The bishops have been terrible about this,” he continued. “By the way, you know why? You know why? Because [they’ve been] unable to really … come to grips with the problems in the church. They need illegal aliens, they need illegal aliens to fill the churches … it’s obvious on the face of it.”

When pressed to explain, Bannon added: “They have an economic interest in unlimited immigration, unlimited illegal immigration.”

LMU theology professor Cecilia Gonzalez says Bannon needs to brush up on the gospel. She says the church’s position is consistent with a Christian’s duty to “love thy neighbor.”

“That is plainly, logically wrong because when you care for the vulnerable and you care for the most maligned people in a society, which the church is doing throughout the world, that does not fill your coffers, it drains them,” Dr. Gonzalez said, adding, “I was concerned that Catholic teaching is being so misrepresented by someone with such a big megaphone.”

Los Angeles is home to the largest archdiocese in the nation.

At Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral, parishioners CBS2/KCAL9’s Cristy Fajardo spoke with said they wished he’d stay out of religion.

“That’s a negative connotation when in comes to the church,” parishioner Marilyn Paguio said.

The L.A. Archdiocese and Archbishop José Gómez declined to comment for this story.

Bannon’s interview with “60 Minutes” will air Sunday at 7 p.m. PT on CBS2.


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