Steve Bannon admires George Soros, hates Pope Francis, and has gone full-throttle to oppose the 'open-border' advocates with the launch of a European nationalist powerhouse.
Based out of a thirteenth-century Carthusian monastery 90 minutes outside of Rome, Bannon has teamed up with Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, Catholic UK politician Benjamin Harnwell and American Cardinal Raymond Burke - who has called Islam a threat and is an open supporter of US President Donald Trump.
In short, Bannon's new academy seeks to coordinate nationalist movements across Europe as a "right-wing response to George Soros's Open Society Foundation," which Bannon says he admires for its power and organization.
The monastery will host events with speakers like Bannon and Burke and conservative Christian leaders.
Harnwell and his organization are an important connection between Bannon and Burke. Harnwell is the one who first introduced the two, according to a New York Times article that is displayed on Harnwell’s website. Bannon spoke at one of Harnwell’s’ conferences by grainy video link back in 2014 during which he warned that the migration exodus would lead to a rise in populism. Burke was the keynote speaker the year before. -Daily Beast
"Soros has done an amazing job," said Bannon in reference to leftist organizations that feed into NGOs, government and media. "He’s created cadres, and those cadres have immense political power. To me he’s a role model in that regard."
Speaking of his new academy, Bannon says that young professionals "who want a change in life" will be able to attend for a few weeks - or even an academic year, to form the foundations of a Soros-like network in media and government.
The former Breitbart Chairman also has ambitions for a think tank.
"We don’t have, in our populist movement here, a lot of highly defined policy alternatives," said Bannon last December, adding: "Conservatives have Heritage, A.E.I., but they’re not economic nationalism. There’s just not a lot of analytical policy work. It needs to be done, and it needs to be done now."
That said, Bannon has reportedly met with some difficulty trying to unite some of Europe's populists.
Bannon’s aim of knitting far-right parties together across Europe into a unified bloc does not seem to have got very far. A spokesman for the far-right Alternative for Germany said recently that party representatives had met with Bannon but weren’t interested in working with him, because he doesn’t understand Europe. Marine Le Pen, the leader of the French far-right party formerly known as the National Front, said last year that Bannon was of limited help because he “isn’t from a European country.” One senior official in the Italian “League,” whose leader, Matteo Salvini, is one of Bannon’s most important allies on the continent, told Politico Europe that Bannon is “not on the radar.” -The New Yorker
Pope Francis is the enemy?
It's no secret that Bannon, Salvini, Harnwell and Burke all staunchly oppose the liberal open-border policies advocated by Pope Francis.
As The Guardian reports, Bannon encouraged Salvini to attack Francis over the issue of migration as far back as April 2016 before Donald Trump won the US election.
During a meeting in Washington in April 2016, Bannon – who would within a few months take up his role as head of Trump’s presidential campaign – suggested the leader of Italy’s anti-immigration League party should start openly targeting Pope Francis, who has made the plight of refugees a cornerstone of his papacy.
“Bannon advised Salvini himself that the actual pope is a sort of enemy. He suggested for sure to attack, frontally,” said a senior League insider with knowledge of the meeting in an interview with the website SourceMaterial. -The Guardian
Following the meeting, Salvini "became more outspoken against the pope," reads the report, which adds that "conservatives in the Vatican were on his side."
In May 2016, Salvini tweeted "The pope says migrants are not a danger. Whatever!"
According to Robert Sirico, founder of the Michigan-based Acton Institute think tank says that Francis is sympathetic to socialism.
"His dominant understanding of what business is is selfish and doing things to benefit only themselves rather than the poor," said Sirico, who met Francis in 2013 according to NBC News.
"He’s the administrator of the church, and he’s also a politician," Bannon told NBC News earlier this week. "This is the problem … He’s constantly putting all the faults in the world on the populist nationalist movement."
Two years ago, the pope cautioned against growing populism in Europe, warning it could lead to the election of leaders like Hitler.
Bannon alleges that Francis has mismanaged numerous sex abuse scandals roiling the church, and says the pope is not treating the issue seriously enough. -NBC News
Francis, meanwhile, now blames the sexual revolution and "homosexual cliques" among priests for decades of pedophile scandals.