Trump aide accused Catholics of backing immigration to boost church

Trump aide accused Catholics of backing immigration to boost church
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Steve Bannon, Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpJimmy Carter: 'I hope there's an age limit' on presidency White House fires DHS general counsel: report Trump to cap California trip with visit to the border MORE's new campaign CEO, previously accused Catholics of supporting Hispanic immigration to prop up the church's numbers on his radio program in the spring. 

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"I understand why Catholics want as many Hispanics in this country as possible, because the church is dying in this country, right? If it was not for the Hispanics," Bannon told Robert P. George, a Princeton law professor who, along with dozens of other leaders, wrote an open letter to fellow Catholics denouncing Trump. 

"I get that, right? But I think that is the subtext of part of the letter, and I think that is the subtext of a lot of the political direction of this."

The Hill first reported on Bannon's March 8 comments Monday. Bannon railed against House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanThree-way clash set to dominate Democratic debate Krystal Ball touts Sanders odds in Texas Republicans pour cold water on Trump's term limit idea MORE (R-Wis.) and said he was "rubbing his social-justice Catholicism in my nose every second."

About a month earlier, Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, had a controversial exchange with Pope Francis. 

"A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not the gospel," said Francis in February on his way back from a visit to Mexico.

Trump, who proposes building a border wall as part of his immigration plan, called the comment "disgraceful."

"No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man's religion or faith," Trump said.

According to Pew Research Center, the proportion of American Catholics who are Hispanic grew from 29 percent in 2007 to 34 percent in 2014. The proportion of white Catholics decreased from 65 percent to 59 percent.