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Bannon blasts Catholic Church over criticism of DACA decision 

Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump's controversial former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, attacked the Catholic Church over a cardinal’s criticism of the administration's plan to phase out the Obama-era DACA program that protects unauthorized immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.

In an interview with CBS, Bannon said Catholic bishops only went public with their disapproval because the church has an ulterior motive, which he described as encouraging illegal immigration.

"The Catholic Church has been terrible about this,” Bannon said.

“They need illegal aliens to fill the churches. It's obvious on the face of it. That's what the entire Catholic bishop's condemning. They have an economic interest in unlimited immigration, unlimited illegal immigration.”

His criticism follows a charge this week by Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York that terminating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program “is certainly not Christian, and I would contend it’s not American.”

Dolan’s office did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request Thursday for comment.

When Bannon was pressed -- as a Catholic himself -- whether his criticism was fair, he said he still respected Pope Francis and other cardinals and bishops on church doctrine.

"I totally respect the pope and totally respect the Catholic bishops and cardinals on doctrine," Bannon said. "This is not about doctrine. This is about the sovereignty of a nation. And in that regard they’re another guy with an opinion."

Bannon also split with the president's decision not to rescind DACA immediately but made clear that he sees his role since re-joining Breitbart News as a "protector" of sorts for President Trump.

"Our purpose is to support Donald Trump, to make sure his enemies know that there’s no free shot on goal," Bannon said.

He went on to continue his defense of the president's widely panned reaction to the violent events in Charlottesville in August, and said those who refused to throw their support behind the president's response should have resigned.

"You can tell him, ‘Hey, maybe you can do it a better way,’" Bannon said. "But if you're going to break with him, resign. The stuff that was leaked out that week by certain members of the White House, I think, was unacceptable."

Bannon pointed his finger specifically at President Trump's top economic adviser, Gary Cohn, with whom Bannon notably clashed before departing the White House last month.

"I'm talking about, obviously, Gary Cohn and some other people," Bannon said. "That if you don't like what he's doing and you don't agree with it, you have an obligation to resign."

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