TRISULTI, Italy (ChurchMilitant.com) - On January 29, Dignitatas Humanae Institute (DHI) became the new leaseholder of the historic Trisulti monastery outside of Rome. Four months later, Italy's ministry of culture is revoking the rental agreement.
Dignitatas Humanae Institute is the think tank led by former White House advisor and Breitbart chief Steve Bannon and former prefect of the Apostolic Signatura Cdl. Raymond Burke. The Institute was planning to make Trisulti its base of operations and the home for its Academy for the Judeo-Christian West, what Bannon nicknamed his "gladiator school."
From the beginning, locals objected. Some of these early objections were backlash to Bannon. Other concerns seemed plausible. Trisulti monastery is an important cultural landmark and pilgrimage destination, making it a source of revenue for the people there. They had a legitimate interest in who would be awarded the lease. But DHI prevailed in its bid to be leaseholder, and its plans for the property's preservation and improvement were able to begin.
But wait, not so fast!
The May 31 announcement revoking the lease noted a problem with the "competitive tender process." It was suggested some of the bank documentation in support of DHI's offer had been forged. The ministry of culture also claimed "the institute has not paid concession fees and failed to do maintenance work on the monastery."
Opposition to DHI's plans has been led by Nicola Zingaretti, leader of Italy's center-left Democratic Party, and directly opposed to Matteo Salvini's populist party (which Bannon has championed) — strong evidence that the ministry of culture's actions are not motivated by "duty," as they claim, but are blatantly motivated by politics. Zingaretti is governor of the region in which both Rome and Trisulti are located, and he has assured the ministry of culture that a viable alternative plan for the monastery is ready for execution.
The always unflappable Bannon summed up the controversy: "All of this stuff is just dust being kicked up by the Left." But he also said, "The fight for Trisulti is a microcosm of the fight for the Judeo-Christian West."
It is also reported that Benjamin Harnwell, one of DHI's founders, in a tone similar to Bannon's, said the organization will oppose the lease revocation with "every resource at its disposal no matter how many years it takes."
"The Ministry for Culture might be prepared to surrender to every whim of the extreme left — the [DHI] will never do so," Harnwell said. "This is nothing more than the braying of the cultural Marxist left against the defense of Western Civilization."
The announcement of potential eviction comes on the heels of major victories for populist parties in the European Parliamentary elections, also at the end of May. In an interview with The Guardian's associate editor Paul Lewis in November 2018, Bannon predicted, Everything converges on May of 2019 and that is literally when we take over the EU. It's going to overwhelm the news cycle."
Bannon isn't always right, but he is right a lot of the time. The chances he or anyone associated with DHI forged an important supporting document for the monastery lease agreement is so slim it's likely the agreement ultimately will stand, but that decision could take years. Vegas is betting on Bannon.