Stephen Bannon, former adviser to Donald Trump, has lost a legal battle over the establishment of a right-wing Catholic political academy in an abbey in Italy. The Council of State ruled on Monday against the Bannon-supported Dignitatis Humanae Institute (DHI), which wanted to open the school in an 800-year-old monastery south of Rome.
The case has been heard in Italian courts for years, with lawsuits and counterclaims between the DHI on the one hand and the Ministry of Culture, which owns the property, on the other – as well as a group of local environmental and civic organizations. Bannon, a Catholic, helped create the curriculum for leadership courses for right-wing Catholic activists at the Academy in the city of Trisulti. Bannon announced on Monday that he would appeal the decision. “We want to appeal and win,” he said. “Trisulti is an Italian treasure and we will fight for it.”
Many residents were against the school. In 2019, the ministry withdrew a 19-year lease citing breaches of contractual obligations. The institute appealed to the regional court, saying the move was politically motivated and won the appeal last year. The institute’s founder, Benjamin Harnwell, confirmed Monday’s decision against the DHI in a phone call with Reuters, but said he had no immediate further comment. He said lawyers were still studying the verdict.
During the Trump administration, the project for the institute found support from populist right-wing politicians in Italy, such as former Interior Minister Matteo Salvini.