Steve Bannon, Trump’s Chief Strategis, and former CEO of Breitbart News(a far-right news website), has spoken ill of Pope Francis and shows great opposition towards him.
While Bannon was still running his conservative far-right website he took a trip to the Vatican where he spoke with archconservative American cardinal, Raymond Burke, who had openly clashed with Pope Francis.
Both Burke and Bannon bonded over their shared worldview. In their minds, Islam is a threat to the world. They saw the religion as threatening to overrun a prostrate West weakened by the destruction of traditional Christian values, and viewed themselves as unjustly excluded by out-of-touch political elites.
“When you recognize someone who has sacrificed in order to remain true to his principles and who is fighting the same kind of battles in the cultural arena, in a different section of the battlefield, I’m not surprised there is a meeting of hearts,” said Benjamin Harnwell, a confidant of Cardinal Burke who arranged the 2014 meeting.
Bannon has a history of connecting with far-right conservatives threatening to overturn governments throughout Western Europe. He also shares a common cause with elements in the Roman Catholic Church who oppose the direction Francis is taking them.
Many of the pope’s ideological opponents are fearful of a pontiff they consider outwardly avuncular but internally a ruthless wielder of absolute political power. And they see in alternate leader who will stand up for traditional Christian values and against Muslim interlopers — Donald Trump, and more directly in Steve Bannon.
“There are huge areas where we and the pope do overlap, and as a loyal Catholic, I don’t want to spend my life fighting against the pope on issues where I won’t change his mind,” Mr. Harnwell said over a lunch of cannelloni. “Far more valuable for me would be spend time working constructively with Steve Bannon.”
Bannon spoke via video feed from Los Angeles to publicly articulate his worldview, speaking about the existential threat of Islam, and a capitalism that had drifted from the moral foundations of Christianity.
The public video chat gained a lot of attention from conservatives for its explicit expression of Mr. Bannon’s vision.
Bannon’s visage, speeches and endorsement of Mr. Harnwell as “the smartest guy in Rome” are featured heavily on the website of Mr. Harnwell’s foundation.
It’s been told by a person with knowledge of Bannon’s current outreach that he is looking for an ambassador to the Holy See for the Trump administration. One candidate in mind is Edward Pentin, a leading conservative Vatican reporter.
“He really seemed to get the battles the church needs to fight,” said Mr. Pentin, the author of “The Rigging of a Vatican Synod?” a book asserting that Pope Francis and his supporters railroaded opponents.
A former priest, Mr. Williams said that he used to have arguments with Bannon after he called the pope a “socialist/communist.” Mr. Williams said he usually defended the pope, but that recent statements by Francis convinced him “Steve turned out to be right. That happens more often than not.”
Mr. Bannon’s private thoughts about the pope have at times surfaced in public.
On May 23, Mr. Bannon and Mr. Williams spoke about Pope Francis on the radio program Breitbart News Daily.
During the conversation Bannon expressed his thoughts of the pope, stating that the he “seems almost to be putting the responsibility on the working men and women of Italy and Europe et cetera, that they have to go out of their way to accommodate” migration.
Bannon went out looking for alliances in Rome with people who believe that Pope Francis is taking the Roman Catholic Church in the wrong direction.
Cardinal Burke has become a champion to conservatives in the United States. Under Mr. Bannon, Breitbart News urged its Rome correspondent to write sympathetically about him.