Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has sparked feuds with several influential people: Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Mexican government officials. Now the business mogul can add Pope Francis to the list.
On Feb 18, during his return flight from a visit to Mexico, Pope Francis made comments to reporters which have been interpreted as a direct slam against Trump’s immigration proposals.
“A person who thinks only about buildings walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian,” Francis said.
When asked if he would advise U.S. Catholics not to vote for Trump, Francis responded, “I am not going to get involved in that. I say only that this man is not Christian if he has said things like that. We must see if he said things in that way, and in this I give the benefit of the doubt.”
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The business mogul was quick to respond the Pope’s remarks.
“For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful,” Trump said at a campaign event in South Carolina, according to The Guardian.
Trump has proposed building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border which the Mexican government would be required to pay for. He has also vowed to deport the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. if he is elected president.
Trump accused the Mexican government of bad-mouthing him to the pontiff and “using the pope as a pawn.”
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“They should be ashamed of themselves, especially when so many lives are involved and illegal immigration is rampant and bad for the United States,” Trump said.
The business mogul suggested the Pope’s comments had endangered the safety of the Vatican.
“If and when the Vatican is attacked by the ISIS, which as everyone knows is ISIS’ ultimate trophy, I can promise you that the pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been president,” Trump said.
Francis has commented on immigration before. According to The Washington Post, he told the U.S. Congress in 2015, “We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners.”
In 2013, the pontiff said “a good Catholic meddles in politics.”
Earlier in February, Trump told Fox Business, “The pope is a very political person” who “doesn’t understand the problems our country has.”
Hearing this accusation during his plane ride, Francis seemed pleased.
“Thank God he said I was a politician because Aristotle defined the human person as ‘animal politicus,’” Francis said. “So at least I am a human person.”