Bannon returned to the right-wing Breitbart News website, which he had headed before running Trump’s presidential campaign. In January, Bannon quit as Breitbart’s executive chairman after angering Trump by harshly criticizing his eldest son.
Leaving Breitbart threatened Bannon’s dream of leading a new political movement that supports his “America First” agenda of tougher trade deals and immigration laws.
Harnwell said the Institute expects to present its first courses next year. The monastery is large enough to accommodate 250-300 students at a time.
Burke, the former Archbishop of St. Louis, has been a leading light at the Institute since 2013 and is an outspoken critic of some policies of Pope Francis.
Since Francis’ election in 2013, Burke has led the charge by conservatives who have sharply criticized the pope, saying he has left many faithful confused by pronouncements that the church should be more welcoming to homosexuals and divorced Catholics and not be obsessed by “culture war” issues such as abortion.
Burke is president of the Institute’s “advisory board”, Harnwell said. The cardinal has condemned Islam as a threat to the West, a position that strongly parallels one of the principal political campaign themes of both Bannon and Trump.
In 2014, Pope Francis removed Burke as chief of the Vatican’s Supreme Court, the Apostolic Signatura, and demoted him to become patron of the Order of Malta, a charitable organization.
Bannon is in “communication” regularly with Burke, although Harnwell acknowledges that the three-times divorced Bannon “doesn’t pretend to be a model Catholic”. Harnwell said the institute itself “takes no view on the pope” or his policies.
Burke has met several times with Matteo Salvini, Italy’s far-right deputy prime minister, Harnwell said. Earlier this summer, Salvini ordered Italian ports to stop allowing landings of ships carrying refugees fleeing Middle East strife.
After meeting Bannon in Rome last weekend, Salvini announced that he was joining the populist Movement Bannon was setting up aimed at disrupting the European Union.
Reporting by Mark Hosenball; Additional reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Giles Elgood.