Pope Francis had harsh words for GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump on Thursday morning, telling reporters that the real estate mogul’s plan to build a wall between the United States and Mexico “is not Christian.”
Fresh off his six-day visit to Mexico and trip to the U.S-Mexico border, Pope Francis was asked on the papal plane his thoughts on Trump, who recently called the pontiff “political” and accused him of being coopted by the Mexican government to support immigrants.
Francis, however, didn’t mince words about Trump, nor did he seem enthused by his proposal to build a wall between Mexico and the United States.
“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not in the gospel,” he said. “As far as what you said about whether I would advise to vote or not to vote, I am not going to get involved that. I say only that this man is not Christian if he said things like that.”
Francis also seemed to appreciate — not reject — Trump calling him “political,” saying that to be political is to be a human being.
"Thank God he said I was a political person, because Aristotle defined the human person as 'animal politicus,’” Francis said. “So at least I am a human person.”
Francis closed his remarks with a moment of grace for Trump, however.
“We must see if [Trump] said things in that way and in this I give the benefit of the doubt.”
But Trump did not extend the same grace to Francis on Thursday. Within hours of the pope’s remarks, Trump issued the following statement, in which he insists ISIS will attack the Vatican and questions whether the head of the Catholic Church had the authority to cast doubt on his faith.
If and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS, which as everyone knows is ISIS’s ultimate trophy, I can promise you that the Pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been President because this would not have happened. ISIS would have been eradicated unlike what is happening now with our all talk, no action politicians.
The Mexican government and its leadership has made many disparaging remarks about me to the Pope, because they want to continue to rip off the United States, both on trade and at the border, and they understand I am totally wise to them. The Pope only heard one side of the story – he didn’t see the crime, the drug trafficking and the negative economic impact the current policies have on the United States. He doesn’t see how Mexican leadership is outsmarting President Obama and our leadership in every aspect of negotiation.
For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful. I am proud to be a Christian and as President I will not allow Christianity to be consistently attacked and weakened, unlike what is happening now, with our current President. No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man’s religion or faith. They are using the Pope as a pawn and they should be ashamed of themselves for doing so, especially when so many lives are involved and when illegal immigration is so rampant.
Trump’s statement did not mention that he questioned the faith of fellow GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz earlier this year. His attacks on the pontiff also appear to contradict his initial assessment of Francis when he ascended to the papacy in 2013.
The new Pope is a humble man, very much like me, which probably explains why I like him so much!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 25, 2013
Trump, who claims to be a Presbyterian but is not an active member of any church, has suffered a number of religious gaffes during campaign for president. He was unable to properly explain communion, said that he does not ask God for forgiveness because he doesn’t think he has to, and almost put money into the communion plate during a visit to an Iowa church, mistaking it for an offering plate.
Trump has also had difficulty understanding Presbyterianism, the tradition he claims. In January, he accidentally sat through a Presbyterian service in an Iowa church that included a sermon about welcoming immigrants and refugees — a common belief in the Presbyterian Church (USA), which officially supports immigration reform as a denomination. Yet Trump said he believed the church chose the Bible verses to speak directly to him, apparently unaware that scripture passages come from the Lectionary, meaning they are decided years in advance. Meanwhile, the stated clerk of the PC(USA), one of the highest positions in the denomination, issued an open letter to Trump asking him to tone down his anti-immigrant rhetoric, and at least one PC(USA) church has called for denomination officials to review his membership — something that was ultimately deemed impossible, since Trump does not belong to any church.