TRISULTI, Italy (Church Militant.com) - An Italian court is agreeing with former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon that the eviction of his "gladiator school" from a medieval monastery may be unlawful.
At the end of February, Bannon, chairman of the Dignitatis Humanae Institute (DHI), along with Benjamin Harnwell, DHI's founder and president, negotiated a 19-year lease for Trisulti Charterhouse, a 12th-century Carthusian abbey located north of Rome. Almost before the ink was dry, Italy's Ministry of Culture, the government entity responsible for the lease, had second thoughts about the deal and attempted to evict DHI.
On Dec. 5, it turned up the heat and gave DHI 10 days to vacate the premises. It also gave a deadline of Dec. 16 in annulling the 19-year-lease.
Harnwell told Church Militant, "Surrounding these activities was a two-and-a-half-year drumbeat of lies, distortions and misrepresentations." (See below for Harnwell's complete remarks.)
Harnwell immediately contested the eviction, and on Dec. 18 — the same day Bannon learned Trump was impeached — an Italian tribunal ruled that DHI dodged an eviction bullet and will have its day in court, potentially to fully ratify the lease agreement.
Suspending the eviction order as well as the Oct. 16th lease annulment, the tribunal agreed with Harnwell that the DHI's position is "not without legal foundation. It also noted that the ministry has failed to back up its claims that the DHI issued "false or mendacious" statements.
Harnwell will be given a chance to argue his case in March. The tribunal also ordered the ministry to pay €1,000 in court costs.
As Church Militant has reported, DHI is a Rome-based organization that describes itself as "a think tank" with the aim of protecting and promoting "human dignity based on the anthropological truth that man is born in the image and likeness of God." It works with legislators to promote the Christian voice in the public arena, which it says is being silenced.
The abbey has been a source of concern for the region. Because of its cultural significance, it is a prominent tourist destination and source of revenue. But the abbey is nearly empty with only a few monks remaining. When Italy's Ministry of Culture announced it would make Trisulti available for lease, DHI applied.
Bannon and Harnwell planned for the abbey to be both the new headquarters for DHI and the Academy for the Judeo-Christian West, what Bannon called a "school for gladiators" that would train a new generation of political leaders in the tradition of Judeo-Christian values.
But once Bannon's association with DHI and Trisulti became known, local residents voiced objections. Soon, so-called irregularities in the lease were discovered; there were even charges of forgery. Bannon and Harnwell say the trumped-up charges were "politically motivated."
In October, Harnwell told Church Militant, "As the DHI indicated when the Ministry for Culture first announced this politically motivated maneuver back in May, we will fight our case in court with every resource at our disposal."
Harnwell went on to express his confidence in winning his case: "We look forward to demonstrating that the objections against the DHI promoted by the Left over the last two years are 100% without any foundation whatsoever."
Vox reports Bannon is unperturbed by the legal wrangling, who says it "is just dust being kicked up by the Left."
Bannon felt comfortable enough about the situation to head back to Washington, D.C when he believed Donald Trump's presidency was imperiled. Bannon turned on a dime and within a week's time, built a broadcast studio in the basement of the Breitbart Embassy, where he is devoting himself full-time to defending President Trump against impeachment. His twice-a-day podcasts can be found at War Room: Impeachment.
In addition to attacks from the left-leaning Ministry of Culture, DHI has had to endure a recent misunderstanding with Cdl. Raymond Leo Burke. In late 2018, Burke agreed to lead DHI's advisory board made up of Catholic clergy. When there were rumors that Bannon was considering some level of involvement with a film version of French, homosexual sociologist Frederic Martel's book, In the Closet of the Vatican, Burke resigned from his role, distancing himself from Bannon.
Harnwell's full statement follows:
It is difficult to describe just how aggressive the Left's opposition to the Academy for the Judeo-Christian West has been. They organized three protests and two emergency parliamentary hearings, which culminated in their successfully bullying the Italian Ministry for Culture into finding whatever pretext it could to annul the Dignitatis Humanae Institute's 19-year lease for the Trisulti monastery.
Surrounding these activities was a two-and-a-half-year drumbeat of lies, distortions and misrepresentations. The Left made the classic error, however, in believing the B.S. with which it had been saturating news coverage of Trisulti, to the extent that it had worked itself into a totally unhinged derangement over supposed "mendacious and false statements" that the DHI was alleged to have made when it participated in the 2017 tender.
It took the judges about only ten minutes of verbally questing the lawyers to ascertain the dynamics of the case, and with that, they canceled the ministry's well-publicized eviction order giving the DHI 10 days to leave the premises or suffer the consequences; and they also provisionally overturned the annulment of the lease itself, pending the final decision in March. The judges also ordered the Ministry to pay costs.
What is it about the DHI's program that turns otherwise harmless, ignorant and mistaken Leftish activists into zombies from the film 28 Days Later? The DHI believes that the Judeo-Christian West, while not perfect, remains the best civilization ever devised in the long course of human history for the maximum thriving of the human potential. This is so because ours is the culture that was built according to the truth of the human person — that man is made in the image and likeness of God; and that Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God. From this, nourished in the very vault of our civilization, we cherish the understanding that only in knowing Jesus Christ can we hope to fully know ourselves. It is for maintaining this simple anthropological truth that we have the implacable enemies we have. We consider it a badge of honor.
Whether this civilization — already under existential threat from the hard Left, radical Islam, global secularist elites, unsustainable debt, the vertiginous inverted pyramid of future social welfare commitments and a pending demographic collapse (to name but a few fronts in this current war) — survives for our children depends on what we do now.
Fans of Church Militant will not need any persuading of the sad reality that, almost to a man, the worldwide episcopal hierarchy — including the Sacred College of Cardinals, up to the self-described "Bishop of Rome" himself — are now openly allied with the Catholic Church’s historic existential enemies, and "turning and turning in the widening gyre" they rally against the very elect who have held firm to the unchanging Faith of the Apostles. We cannot count on the institutional Church, formerly a key pillar of Western civilization, to defend it at its most perilous hour.
For these reasons, we are soon to start a formation program, a "gladiator school for culture warriors" under the leadership of Steve Bannon, to take this battle for our future into our own hands. You can help us in two ways — by participating directly in our activities, or by supporting our work financially so that as many of the next generation as possible can benefit from our programs.
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