You might not be surprised to learn some deep lessons about authentic Catholic social teaching from a conference at the Vatican. Except if that person you were learning them from was then the head of Breitbart.com, and is now Donald Trump’s chief strategist. That’s right, Steve Bannon—who is now the victim of an appalling character smear by leftists and NeverTrump globalists in the GOP–gave one of the most profound and enlightening talks in recent Vatican history in 2014. See The Stream for highlights.
I myself am not surprised. Years before Bannon took over Breitbart.com, I met him at the Ritz Carlton in Hollywood, in the company of a major movie producer. Before he brought me to meet Bannon, my producer friend told me that Bannon had been a banker at Goldman Sachs. So what I expected to meet was a snooty, amateur tri-athlete with bland personality and pale, uncalloused hands. Instead I encountered the big personality and talent that is Steve Bannon. I was little intimidated at first; here was someone who was clearly afraid of nothing, equal parts brashness and magnanimity. We started talking business, but it wasn’t along till somehow we were discussing the Armenian genocide. At the time, I was working on The Race to Save Our Century, and 20th-century horrors weighed heavily on my mind. But they also weighed on Bannon’s. Indeed, almost every time we’d ever get together to nail down some detail of a media project, Steve would end up regaling me on the danger to Christian minorities in the Middle East and Africa, or the horrors of abortion and what we must do to stop it. Not your average Hollywood business lunches.
If you read Bannon’s Vatican speech, what you meet is a man almost obsessed by concern for the fragility of freedom and peace in our fallen world. Someone consumed by care for the vulnerable among us, and unafraid to confront their powerful oppressors. Steve is tough, like the sheepdogs described in American Sniper—tough enough to defend the defenseless. He once joked about learning from Lenin, but Bannon won’t break eggs to make human omelets, as Lenin did. No, he will break the omelet-makers—the Islamists and globalists who recklessly threaten the innocent.
So if you’re committed to genuine Catholic social teaching—to peace, open markets and the sanctity of human life, Steve’s your man. I met him through someone we both loved, Andrew Breitbart. Together, two Catholics and a Jew, we would sketch out new ways to promote the prophetic ideals of justice too often forgotten in our post-theist world. Though Andrew is gone, I am sure he is smiling down at the sight of Bannon in the corridors of power, standing at the right hand of the incoming president—who will no doubt hear from Bannon about the evils of Planned Parenthood, the plight of Yezidis, Christians, and Jews in the Middle East, and the need to smash “crony capitalism” that threatens our nation’s growth. I hope that Catholics rally to Bannon now, as he goes through his current crucible. We will find no better friend of all the causes dear to our hearts, and the Heart of Our Lord.